Kacinas leads South Carolina rout of NC A&T, 91-54
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Frank Martin likes when the system works. For the Gamecocks to continue the early season success they've found this season, he insists, they need to have a balanced attack with everyone that plays contributing in some way.
It's been that way in the month of December and it's led to an unbeaten month.
Mindaugas Kacinas came off the bench to score a season-high 16 points in a balance attack that saw six players score in double figures to close the home portion of the non-conference schedule with a dominating 91-54 victory over North Carolina A&T Tuesday night.
Laimonas Chatkevicius added 14, Duane Notice chipped in 13 points and Sindarius Thornwell had 11 while Ty Johnson and Demetrius Henry contributed 10 each as South Carolina (8-3) won its sixth game in a row.
''Offensively, I like balance. I don't like playing through one guy,'' Martin said. ''For us to be good, forever and ever, in our system, we have to play ''X'' number of guys. It's good to see different guys continue to grow and contribute when given a chance.''
The Gamecocks had leads of 8-0, 19-4 and 27-8 in the opening 11 minutes before settling for a 47-16 halftime lead. It didn't get any closer in the second half.
Bruce Beckford led the North Carolina A&T (2-12) with 14 points. He only had two points at the half when the Aggie starters combine for four points on 0-for-12 shooting from the field.
Martin was concerned about the nine-day layoff but the Gamecocks put those concerns to rest early.
The inside presence of Chatkevicius and Henry combined for 24 points with 17 coming in the decisive first half. After Thornwell scored the first five points of the contest, Chatkevicius scored seven of the next eight points to give the Gamecocks a 13-4 lead and the route was on.
The Aggies were handcuffed by 11 first-half turnovers. They shot 20 percent (5-of-25) and missed all seven of their three-point attempts. They finished at 32.7 percent.
''I've been happy with this team for a while. I don't think we lost in the month of December. Anytime you go undefeated in high major basketball for a whole month, your guys are doing something right. It's fun to be around.'' - South Carolina coach Frank Martin
North Carolina A&T: The Aggies have played 12 games away from home this season, and lost all of them. They've lost 16 straight away from their home court dating to last season. ... Coach Cy Alexander has a long history of playing against South Carolina. Alexander was the long-time coach at South Carolina State and went 0-9 against the Gamecocks during that time. ... This was the first-ever meeting between North Carolina A&T and South Carolina.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have won six games in a row for the first time since the 2010-2011 season. ... The average margin of victory in the six-game winning streak has been 24 points. ... The eight wins before the end of December is also the most since 2010. They finished that year 8-3 at the end of December but finished 14-16 overall. ... Freshman Shamiek Sheppard played for the first time this season. He suffered a torn ACL during the summer and was expected to miss the entire season but his recovery has been ahead of schedule. He played five minutes and scored three points.
North Carolina A&T host Cal State Bakersfield Saturday.
South Carolina plays No. 9 Iowa State Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.