Kotsar, Booker lead South Carolina to 73-52 win over Wofford
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Frank Booker has had a lot to learn in a short amount of time with South Carolina. The graduate transfer looks like he’s figuring things out at the right time for the Gamecocks.
Booker, who’s played at Oklahoma and Florida Atlantic before joining the Gamecocks, scored 12 points off three 3-pointers in South Carolina’s 73-52 rout of Wofford on Friday night.
Booker is among eight new faces for a South Carolina that ran to the Final Four last season. Booker shot confidently, hitting four of his six shots, and calmly helped the Gamecocks (1-0) take care of the ball on the way to their 17th straight opening-game victory.
Maik Kotsar, one of two starters back from last year’s group, had 13 points while two other first-year Gamecocks in Felipe Haase and Wesley Myers scored 10 points each.
“It was fun,” said Booker, who helped Oklahoma reach the NCAA Tournament both years there. “It was exciting. I love these guys already. But going through practice the way we go through practice, coming to the game we can just relax and play basketball the way we know to.”
Booker canned a 3-pointer on his first shot, also the first basket made in a game at Wofford’s glittery new basketball venue, funded and named after Carolina Panthers owner and Wofford alumnus Jerry Richardson.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin thought it essential to bring in some experience, even if it weren’t in his system. Booker fills that bill. Martin acknowledged that getting a feel of someone’s game can be a time-consuming process. “But I’m starting to get a better feel on Booker on what things I can do for him and not do for him,” Martin said.
Wofford (0-1) kept things tight most of the first half and trailed 25-22 on Derrick Brooks’ jumper with 3:15 left in the opening half. That’s when the Gamecocks took control with a 20-2 run that spanned both periods. Booker and fellow first-year player Myers had 3s in the run. When Hassani Gravett closed the surge with one more 3, South Carolina led 45-24.
“The wheels just came off,” Wofford coach Mike Young said.
Fletcher Magee had 17 points, 15 in the opening half, to lead Wofford.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks had open looks from the outside and knocked them down. That will be harder to come by as the competition gets more difficult the next few weeks. South Carolina will need to drive to the basket more than they showed against the Terriers.
Wofford: Win or lose, the Terriers and their fans were excited to play in their new building. The Southern Conference school did not have enough to hang with the Gamecocks of the Southeastern Conference. But will compete strongly in their league this season and enjoy a bigger home advantage than ever before.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin said most of the postseason he had perhaps the best-shooting squad of any of his Gamecock teams. The group bore that out in this one, making 25 of 54 shots (46.3 percent) in the win. South Carolina shot even better from long range, going 11 of 23 (47.8 percent) from behind the arc.
Carolina Panthers owner and Wofford alumnus Jerry Richardson was on hand to watch the first game in the newly opened Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. He was honored during a halftime ceremony as Wofford students chanted, “Jer-ry, Jer-ry” several times throughout the game. Richardson has left his mark on the campus with the football complex used as home for the Panthers’ summer training camp and a Wofford arts building named for Richardson’s wife, Rosalind and the new basketball home.
South Carolina opens up its home schedule Monday night against Western Michigan.
Wofford takes on Washington & Lee at home Sunday before flying cross country to play at California on Thursday night.
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