Thornwell leads South Carolina to 69-45 win
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Frank Martin got the hard game out of the way. He hopes it leads to even bigger things for his Gamecocks at the Charleston Classic.
Sindarius Thornwell scored 13 of his 14 points in the opening period as South Carolina built a double-digit lead and rolled to 69-45 victory over Cornell to close the opening round of the eight-team tournament Thursday night.
Mindaugas Kacinas had 10 points and 10 rebounds for his third career double-double.
Martin had been on edge the past couple of days since his team played nose-to-nose with Baylor, yet fell at home 69-65 in a game televised as part of ESPN's 24 hours of college basketball. The third-year coach regretted his program missed a big chance to make an early mark and didn't want the same thing to happen this weekend.
''I told the guys, I've been on edge for two days. I don't like losing,'' Martin said. ''I don't enjoy guys that accept losing. We've been patient in trying to build our program. Those days are behind us now.''
They looked that way against the Big Red (2-2), who came in after matching their victory total from last year's 2-26 season. Thornwell took control early on. The first of his three 3-pointers in the opening period put South Carolina (2-1) ahead at 12-11 and started a 14-2 run.
The Gamecocks kept up the pressure after halftime and led by as many as 28 points on Tyrone Johnson's 3-pointer.
JoJo Fallas had 11 points lead Cornell. Galal Cancer had 10 points - although he shot just 2 of 13 from the floor - and Shonn Miller, the Big Red's leading scorer this season at 16 points a game, was held to nine points on 2-of-6 shooting before fouling out.
Cornell opened with a surprising win at George Mason before getting their second victory against Colgate on Tuesday. They started fast in trying for No. 3, leading 11-9 in the first five minutes.
But Thornwell followed with the first 3-pointer put the Gamecocks ahead for good and start the game-changing run.
The Gamecocks kept their large margin the rest of the period, building to a 35-21 halftime lead on Thornwell's last three and two foul shots by Duane Notice.
South Carolina continued the onslaught in the second half, leading 58-30 with 9:40 to go.
''They're very aggressive,'' said Cornell coach Bill Courtney. ''Frank's done a terrific job coaching them on defense.''
The Big Red finished with 17 turnovers.
When asked about playing Charlotte, a 106-97 double OT winner in the game prior to South Carolina, on Friday, Frank Martin said, ''I hope they're real tired.''
Gamecocks reserve Justin McKie finished with eight points and made both 3-pointers he took. McKie is the son of South Carolina's all-time leading scorer, BJ McKie, who attended the game. The elder McKie is an assistant coach with Charleston Southern.
South Carolina forward Mindaugas Kacinas said coaches told him that he played strong and aggressive, he make an impact on the game against Cornell's front line. ''Work hard as you can in the post,'' Kacinas was told, ''be physical, you'll get fouled and get open layups.''
Cornell: The Big Red only played South Carolina once before, an 83-60 loss in the opening round of the ECAC Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden in December 1970.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks reached the championship of the 2009 Charleston Classic, losing the title to Miami. The Hurricanes are also in this year's event and defeated Drexel 66-46 earlier Friday.
Cornell will play Penn State at the Charleston Classic on Friday.
South Carolina will play Charlotte at the Charleston Classic on Friday.