Manhattan has more road wins against NCAA Division I opponents than any team in the nation, and the Jaspers will try to add another victory away from home when they travel to South Carolina on Tuesday. The Jaspers are 6-0 away from home and off to their best start since 2001-02. Manhattan will try to hand the Gamecocks their first home loss and avenge a 63-57 defeat last season at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
South Carolina hasn’t played since a 79-52 loss at Oklahoma State on Dec. 6 - and hasn’t won since Nov. 24. The Gamecocks return from a layoff for exams to play five games in nine days, with coach Frank Martin saying they’ll get in plenty of practice time. “Knowing me, we’ll be tired when we play our games, but that’s all right,” Martin told reporters. “I’d rather understand and be fresh in February than worry about our legs in December.” Manhattan has won four straight and is coming off a 77-72 win at UNC Wilmington on Sunday.
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ABOUT MANHATTAN (7-2): The preseason pick to win the MAAC, the Jaspers are undersized with only one player over 6-5 in the starting lineup, so they like to push the pace and score in transition. The return of swingman George Beamon (20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds) from a season-ending injury last season has been huge, as the senior has topped 20 points six times, including 23 against UNC Wilmington. Rhamel Brown does a good job of playing bigger than his listed 6-7, as he averages 4.2 blocked shots and has recorded at least two in every game.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (2-3): Martin’s second season leading the Gamecocks is off to a rocky start, though two of the team’s three losses have come against ranked opponents on the road. Two freshmen and two sophomores start for a team that struggles at the offensive end - shooting just 41.7 percent - but is beginning to exhibit the defensive tenacity Martin’s teams usually display. Villanova transfer Tyrone Johnson leads the team in scoring (12.2) and assists (4.4) and Sindarius Thornwell (11.8 points) is the only other player averaging double digits in scoring.
1. South Carolina G Bruce Ellington, also a receiver on the Gamecocks football team, made his season debut against Oklahoma State and will remain with the basketball team until the football team departs for its bowl game.
2. Only one of Manhattan’s nine games has been decided by double digits - a 70-59 win at Marist.
3. Freshman G Jaylen Shaw has provided a spark off the bench for the Gamecocks the past two games, averaging 14.5 points and four assists while shooting 66.7 percent.
PREDICTION: Manhattan 71, South Carolina 69