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Following their 63-56 loss to Stetson (6-9) Monday, Gamecock forwards Justin Minaya and Maik Kotsar were asked flat out in the post-game press conference who the leader of team was.

“I’d say Maik,” Minaya said without hesitation.”

“Yeah, uhm, Justin and me I feel like are the one that have to be the leaders just because we’ve been through it,”Kotsar said without as much certainty and confidence.

USC suffered another disappointing non-conference loss and are now 8-5 on the season. Head coach Frank Martin they are still looking for that leader to light a fire under the team and hold them together when things are going their way.

“How do immature people handle adversity? They get really quiet and hide,” he said. “That’s what immature people do when there’s adversity. You know what we had guys do today? Get really quiet and tried to hide because they didn’t want to be the one to get blamed.”

The Gamecocks found themselves down 6-0 very early in the game. With 11:56 left in the first half, USC took its first lead of the game, but quickly relinquished it and played from behind the rest of the night.

AJ Lawson had a quiet night with just eight points and sat for the remaining SIX minutes of the game. Martin didn’t directly say why he benched the sophomore guard, simply asked the reporter “If you watched the game and watched how the game was going, would you have played him?”

USC’s Trae Hannibal two freethrows to cut Stetson’s lead to ¬51-46 with 5:30 left. The Gamecocks then forced a turnover and after a three by Minaya were down just 51-49. Stetson responded by moving the ball and getting it to Jahlil Rawley at the top of the key for three to make it a 56-50 and the Hatters never looked back.

The Gamecocks shot just 37 percent from the field in the contest and 21.1 percent from behind the three-point line. USC went to the line 24 times and made 12 free throws.

Kotsar was the only player to finish in double figures with 11 points.

Monday also marked the homecoming of former Cardinal Newman standout Christiaan Jones. He had big night, finishing with 18 points to lead Stetson and his return to Columbia played a large part in Martin scheduling the game.

“I’m really happy for Christiaan. I scheduled the game for two reason. I scheduled number one for Donnie Jones, and number two for Christiaan. He’s a wonderful kid, it’s a wonderful family and he deserved the right to play here in his home before he graduates from college.”

The Gamecocks start 2020 off with SEC play and will host Florida Jan. 7 at 7 p.m.