Will Gamecocks keep up with Yellow Jackets?

Will Gamecocks keep up with Yellow Jackets?

An unexpected source powered South Carolina to victory in the school’s NIT opener, but can Georgia Tech contain Frank Martin’s newest offensive threat?

The Gamecocks and Yellow Jackets collide in the second round of the tourney, with a 9 p.m. ET tip tonight in Columbia. The winner advances to take on either Washington or San Diego State.

If not for the sudden heroics of Laimonas Chatkevicius, slight BetDSI favorite South Carolina wouldn’t even be here. The 6-foot-11 senior erupted for 30 points vs. High Point. He hauled down five rebounds and recorded two blocks, too, piloting his short-handed squad to an 88-86 triumph.

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Chatkevicius’ previous career high was 27 against Oral Roberts on Nov. 16, so asking him to produce another 15-of-16 shooting performance simply isn’t fair. Fellow upperclassmen Sindarius Thornwell and Michael Carrera must therefore carry a much bigger load.

It may not matter, though, if Georgia Tech maintains its scorching pace from the field. The Yellow Jackets annihilated Houston last Wednesday, 81-62, behind Marcus Georges-Hunt’s 19-point effort. Seniors Charles Mitchell and Adam Smith also reached double figures that evening.

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While Georgia Tech probably won’t convert 50 percent of its 3-point attempts again, Brian Gregory’s group is considerably deeper. Martin recently suspended five reserves for conduct detrimental to his program. In a tournament setting, such a dearth in numbers will prove costly sooner or later.

MONDAY NCAA FREE PICK: GEORGIA TECH/SOUTH CAROLINA UNDER 146 POINTS

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