HOKIES HOOPS CENTRAL: South Carolina (1-0) vs Virginia Tech (1-0) 930PM ACCN

HOKIES HOOPS CENTRAL: South Carolina (1-0) vs Virginia Tech (1-0) 930PM ACCN

South Carolina (1-0)
vs. Virginia Tech (1-0)
November 10, 2023
Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
930 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Virginia Tech Sports Network

ACCN
Play-by-Play: Doug Sherman
Analyst: Cory Alexander

Local Radio
Virginia Tech Sports Network
Play-by-Play: Zach Mackey
Analyst: Mike Burnop

Current Spread: Hokies -5.5
Over/Under: -141

Turkeys vs Chickens....
The Hokies are at the Hall of Fame Series in Charlotte, NC. They face the South Carolina Gamecocks squad that comes in 1-0 after an 11-21 season last year. The Hokies are 13-18 against South Carolina all time with the last meeting in 1997, a 74-73 loss where the Gamecocks went 35-47 from the free throw line (sounds like last night against Iowa.)

The Gamecocks are coached by Lamont Paris, who is in his second season at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are 12-21 under Paris, who is now 99-93 as a Head coach with five years as a head coach at Chattanooga.

The big changes in the roster saw GG Jackson drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies, Chico Carter Jr. transferred to Depaul, Hayden Brown (Graduated), Tre-Vaughn Minnot transferred to Portland State, Javon Benson left the program, Ford Cooper transferred to Hampton, and Daniel Hankins-Sanford transferred to UMass. They had four players transfer in. Ta'Lon Cooper from Minnesota, Myles Stute from Vanderbilt, B.J. Mack from Wofford, and Stephen Clark from The Citadel. All four will play prominent roles this season.

Defensively, South Carolinas focus is half court man-to-man. He emphasizes responsibility and positioning to protect the lane to the point that even though its man-to-man it has many similar tendencies to the Pack-Line, especially focused on denying the baseline. Defenders are taught to position themselves to not allow any baseline penetration, relying on help defense to close an adjusted drives to the center of the lane. The key weakness of this defense is if a team can find open shooters on the perimeter AND hit those shots, the integrity of this defense begins to fall apart.

Offensively, the Gamecocks run a very slow paced, efficient offense. They utilize heavy screens on the perimeter to open up outside shots or lane penetration. Expect to see a ton of passing and long possessions to get clean looks. They will alternate between 3 guard and 4 guard sets, primarily because the roster is extremely guard heavy.

Gamecocks Backcourt
PG: Ta'Lon Cooper (6-4, 200, Gr.)
Game 1: 15 pt, 3 ast, 7 reb
2022-23 stats: 9.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.0 RPG, 37.8 3PT% (Minnesota)

SG: Meechie Johnson (6-2, 184, Jr.)
Game 1: 15 pt, 3 ast, 5 reb
2022-23 stats: 12.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.4 APG

Stephen Clark (6-8, 208, Gr.)
Game 1: 4 pt, 2 ast, 2 reb
2022-23 stats: 16.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.8 BPG (The Citadel)

Jacobi Wright (6-2, 185, Jr.)
Game 1: 9 pt, 2 ast, 3 reb
2022-23 stats: 7.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 35.0 3PT%

Zachary Davis (6-7, 194, So.)
Game 1: 4 pt, 8 reb
2022-23 stats: 2.2 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.7 SPG

Morris Ugusuk (6-4, 160, Fr.)
Game 1: 5 pt, 3 ast, 1 reb
International Signing via Finland

Gamecocks Frontcourt
SF: Myles Stute (6-6, 209, Sr.)
Game 1: 10 pt, 1 ast, 6 reb
2022-23 stats: 8.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.6 APG, 36.1 3PT% (Vanderbilt)

PF: B.J. Mack (6-8, 270, Gr.)
Game 1: 13 pt, 1 ast, 3 reb
2022-23 stats: 16.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 APG (Wofford)

C: Josh Gray (7-0, 265, Sr.)
Game 1: 3 pt, 6 reb
2022-23 stats: 4.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 0.5 APG

What to expect from South Carolinas?
The Gamecocks come in still looking to gel after significant turnover. Their starting lineup consists of four transfers. They cruised to an easy win in their first game against SC Upstate, which isn't surprising considering Upstate is historically in the bottom 30 of RPI rankings (currently 330th). The transfers accounted for 42 of the Gamecocks 83 points.

There really is not much to draw from the first game, much like the Hokies, as South Carolina simply dominated in almost every statistical category. They shot better than 50% both inside and out, going 12-22 from behind the arc. The only small surprise was that their starting guards outrebounded the forwards. Not sure if it was just long kickouts on missed shots or just positioning.

The Hokies
The Hokies got to see quite a few new faces, most impressive though was the freshman guard duo of Rechsteiner and Young. The duo combined for 20 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Another strong debut was Tyler Nickel with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist.

The Hokies started Collins, Cattoor, Pedulla, Beran and Kidd. Kidd put on a strong showing with a 14/11 Double-Double while Pedulla also added a Double-Double going the point/assist route.

Long coming off the bench still managed more minutes than Beran, so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

The biggest surprise for me was how well the Hokies rebounded. Last season there were numerous games against "outsized, overmatched opponents" that the Hokies got absolutely dominated on the boards.

Highlight of the Night

In Closing
The Hokies need to demonstrate they can operate effectively against P5 competition. This game will most likely come down to which guard set has the edge. The Hokies should have the advantage here, especially with Pedulla. Having seen how well the freshman guards played also gives you confidence the Hokies can sustain during substitutions or foul trouble.

Always nice to see 5 checking in

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