COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Senior guard Hassani Gravett and freshman guard A.J. Lawson scored 18 points apiece and South Carolina whipped Norfolk State 81-64 Tuesday night in its final tuneup before the conclusion of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tipoff.
Justin Minaya scored 10 points and Felipe Haase had nine for the Gamecocks (2-1) while the Spartans (2-2) got 15 points from Nic Thomas. South Carolina swished 11 3-pointers just two games after going 0-for-18 from long range, with Gravett connecting on five and Lawson hitting three.
Norfolk wilted under the barrage after a first half where it could have stayed closer because of South Carolina foul trouble. Starting bigs Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar were each on the bench but the Spartans were 14-of-22 from the free-throw line, allowing South Carolina to take a 14-point lead into halftime.
The lead swelled to as many as 28 in the second half as the Gamecocks cruised to the finish.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks needed to answer after a shocking loss to Stony Brook. They have young talent but they won’t go anywhere if Silva and Kotsar don’t play to their best every night.
Norfolk State: The Spartans are trying to build up enough experience before they hit the MEAC schedule. They only lost to two-time defending champ N.C. Central by a point last year and feel they match up well.
Each team heads to the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut to conclude their stays in the Hall of Fame Tipoff.
South Carolina: plays Providence on Saturday, an unranked team but the first major name on the schedule. The Friars have made the last five NCAA tournaments.
Norfolk State: faces Siena Saturday trying to get back over .500 for the season. They could play Stony Brook, which beat South Carolina last week, on Sunday.
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