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South Carolina behind Kotsar's 21 dismantle Missouri 76-54

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Maik Kotsar, a senior and the last player left from South Carolina's Final Four run of 2017, had his best game of the season. Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says a big assist goes to freshman point guard Jermaine Couisnard.

Kotsar had a season-high 21 points and 11 rebounds in South Carolina's 76-54 victory over Missouri on Saturday.

Martin praised Kotsar's aggressiveness, drive and hustle in finishing with his second double-double this season and fourth of his career.

But it's the youthful leadership of Couisnard that's lifted Kotsar and his teammates during a stretch where the Gamecocks (13-8, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) have won three in a row and five of their past six SEC games.

“I really feel like that's given our team a chance," South Carolina's Martin said. “And helped Maik, which he needed."

Kotsar, at 6-foot-10, is talented and relentless. But confrontation? That's not his game, his coach said.

Having Couisnard, a tough-minded leader who's unafraid to call out teammates for subpar play, has unified the team during SEC play, Martin said.

It certainly did for Kotsar, who made his first seven shots and had eight defensive boards in the opening half as the Gamecocks built a double-digit lead.

Kotsar also had four of South Carolina's nine blocks - the team's best showing in SEC play this season.

“We got stops," Kotsar said. “And we got confidence on offense."

Missouri (10-11, 2-6), which rallied from 20 points down to beat Georgia last Thursday, cut a 16-point lead to 52-43 with 11 minutes left. But Kotsar hit two free throws and a short jumper to start a 9-0 run and restore the Gamecocks' comfortable margin.

“Maik played his best game in a uniform here," South Carolina's Martin said.

Couisnard finished with 15 points and AJ Lawson 13 off three 3-pointers for South Carolina.

Xavier Pinson had three of Missouri's four 3-pointers and led the Tigers with 12 points.

Missouri has lost five of its past six games.

Pinson said the Tigers must do a better job hitting the shots they get. They finished at 32.8% (19 of 58), the fifth time in six games they've shot less than 40%.

“For the most part, we got a lot of shots that we liked," Pinson said. “We've just got to knock them down.”

South Carolina has played strong defense during its recent run and that continued against Missouri.

The Gamecocks held the Tigers to 1-of-10 shooting on the way to an 11-3 start. Things only got worse for Missouri after that.

South Carolina scored on five of six possessions in the opening period to stretch things to 30-15 on T.J. Moss' 3-pointer.

The Gamecocks forced nine turnovers and had eight blocks the first 20 minutes. Kotsar was a huge part of South Carolina's defense with eight defensive rebounds, four blocks and a steal in his 10 minutes.

The Tigers were without second- and third-leading scorers Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon for this one. Smith came out in the second half of Missouri's last game with lower back issues and was out of the lineup at South Carolina.

Tilmon has missed the past eight games with a stress fracture in his left foot.

THE BIG PICTURE

Missouri: The Tigers will struggle without the firepower of juniors Smith and Tilmon in the rotation. The two have combined for nearly 20 points and nine rebounds a game this season.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are surging at the right time in order to make a run in the SEC. They have several winnable games this month and any hope of getting to the NCAA Tournament rests on them following a winning January with a more successful February.

MISSOURI LINEUP

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said both Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon remain day to day. But without them, Martin has to have sophomore Pinson start at the point instead of having him come off the bench, a role the coach likes having him in. “Everybody can come into the game and be ready," guard Javon Pickett said.

DUNK TIME

South Carolina's Kotsar dunked home a basket, something he's not always comfortable doing despite being 6-10. Kotsar likes pulling up for short jumpers or spinning for a hook shot. And while he's had success, teammate Couisnard hopes there are more rim-rocking shots ahead. “That was a good dunk,” Couisnard said with a smile.

UP NEXT

Missouri goes to Texas A&M on Tuesday night.

South Carolina plays at Ole Miss on Wednesday night.

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1st Half

Time Team Play Score
20:00   Jumpball received by Missouri  
19:29   Dru Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
19:13   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
19:13 +2 Maik Kotsar made jump shot 0-2
18:55   Dru Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
18:53   Offensive rebound by Javon Pickett  
18:35   Reed Nikko missed jump shot, blocked by Keyshawn Bryant  
18:33   Defensive rebound by AJ Lawson  
18:26   Shooting foul on Xavier Pinson  
18:26 +1 Keyshawn Bryant made 1st of 2 free throws 0-3
18:26   Keyshawn Bryant missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
18:26   Defensive rebound by Mitchell Smith  
18:16   Mitchell Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
18:14   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
18:12   Jermaine Couisnard missed layup, blocked by Dru Smith  
18:09   Defensive rebound by Reed Nikko  
18:09   Personal foul on Jermaine Couisnard  
17:55   Dru Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
17:53   Defensive rebound by AJ Lawson  
17:44 +2 AJ Lawson made layup, assist by Keyshawn Bryant 0-5
17:22   Reed Nikko missed jump shot  
17:20   Offensive rebound by Javon Pickett  
17:19   Javon Pickett missed tip-in  
17:17   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
17:00 +3 AJ Lawson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jermaine Couisnard 0-8
16:46   Lost ball turnover on Torrence Watson, stolen by AJ Lawson  
16:34   Traveling violation turnover on Maik Kotsar  
16:21 +3 Xavier Pinson made 3-pt. jump shot 3-8
16:11   Personal foul on Kobe Brown  
16:01   AJ Lawson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
15:59   Defensive rebound by Javon Pickett  
15:44   Javon Pickett missed layup, blocked by Justin Minaya  
15:42   Offensive rebound by Javon Pickett  
15:39   Traveling violation turnover on Torrence Watson  
15:12 +2 Maik Kotsar made jump shot 3-10
14:56   Kobe Brown missed jump shot, blocked by Maik Kotsar  
14:54   Defensive rebound by Justin Minaya  
14:45   Jermaine Couisnard missed layup  
14:43   Defensive rebound by Missouri  
14:32   Lost ball turnover on Torrence Watson, stolen by Jermaine Couisnard  
14:30   Jermaine Couisnard missed jump shot  
14:28   Offensive rebound by Justin Minaya  
14:23   Jair Bolden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
14:21   Defensive rebound by Javon Pickett  
13:50   Lost ball turnover on Kobe Brown, stolen by Maik Kotsar  
13:50   Shooting foul on Kobe Brown  
13:50   Keyshawn Bryant missed 1st of 2 free throws  
13:50 +1 Keyshawn Bryant made 2nd of 2 free throws 3-11
13:50 +1 Keyshawn Bryant made 2nd of 2 free throws 3-12
13:36 +3 Xavier Pinson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Mitchell Smith 6-12
13:00   Shot clock violation turnover on South Carolina  
12:42   Tray Jackson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
12:40   Defensive rebound by AJ Lawson  
12:35   AJ Lawson missed jump shot  
12:33   Defensive rebound by Xavier Pinson  
12:29   Xavier Pinson missed layup, blocked by Justin Minaya  
12:27   Offensive rebound by Missouri  
12:16   Bad pass turnover on Mitchell Smith, stolen by AJ Lawson  
12:14   TJ Moss missed 3-pt. jump shot  
12:12   Defensive rebound by Missouri  
12:11   Personal foul on Wildens Leveque  
11:45   Offensive foul on Xavier Pinson  
11:45   Turnover on Xavier Pinson  
11:30 +3 AJ Lawson made 3-pt. jump shot 6-15
10:57   Dru Smith missed jump shot, blocked by Maik Kotsar  
10:55   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
10:38 +2 Maik Kotsar made jump shot, assist by Jermaine Couisnard 6-17
10:05   Shooting foul on Trae Hannibal  
10:05 +1 Dru Smith made 1st of 2 free throws 7-17
10:05 +1 Dru Smith made 2nd of 2 free throws 8-17
9:44   Bad pass turnover on Trae Hannibal, stolen by Evan Yerkes  
9:36   Mitchell Smith missed layup, blocked by Maik Kotsar  
9:34   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
9:30   Turnover on Jermaine Couisnard  
9:09   Mitchell Smith missed jump shot  
9:01   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
9:01   Personal foul on Dru Smith  
8:54 +3 Justin Minaya made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by AJ Lawson 8-20
8:31   Dru Smith missed layup  
8:29   Defensive rebound by Justin Minaya  
8:29   Personal foul on Mitchell Smith  
8:12 +2 Maik Kotsar made jump shot 8-22
8:01   Xavier Pinson missed jump shot  
7:59   Defensive rebound by Jermaine Couisnard  
7:48   Jair Bolden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:46   Defensive rebound by Missouri  
7:26 +3 Xavier Pinson made 3-pt. jump shot 11-22
7:08   Lost ball turnover on Maik Kotsar, stolen by Mitchell Smith  
6:59   Dru Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:57   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
6:55   Personal foul on Reed Nikko  
6:54 +1 Maik Kotsar made 1st of 2 free throws 11-23
6:54   Maik Kotsar missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
6:54   Defensive rebound by Mitchell Smith  
6:44 +2 Javon Pickett made jump shot, assist by Dru Smith 13-23
6:22   Keyshawn Bryant missed jump shot, blocked by Dru Smith  
6:20   Defensive rebound by Dru Smith  
6:14 +2 Dru Smith made layup 15-23
6:10   Personal foul on Xavier Pinson  
6:10 +1 Jermaine Couisnard made 1st of 2 free throws 15-24
6:10 +1 Jermaine Couisnard made 2nd of 2 free throws 15-25
5:55   Javon Pickett missed jump shot  
5:53   Defensive rebound by AJ Lawson  
5:44   Shooting foul on Axel Okongo  
5:44 +1 Justin Minaya made 1st of 2 free throws 15-26
5:44 +1 Justin Minaya made 2nd of 2 free throws 15-27
5:28   Bad pass turnover on Dru Smith, stolen by Alanzo Frink  
5:11   Personal foul on Torrence Watson  
5:11 +1 Trae Hannibal made 1st of 2 free throws 15-28
5:11   Trae Hannibal missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
5:11   Defensive rebound by Reed Nikko  
4:45   Torrence Watson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:43   Defensive rebound by Trae Hannibal  
4:28 +3 TJ Moss made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jair Bolden 15-31
4:09 +3 Torrence Watson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Dru Smith 18-31
3:44   Jair Bolden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:42   Defensive rebound by Reed Nikko  
3:25 +2 Dru Smith made jump shot 20-31
3:15   Justin Minaya missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:13   Offensive rebound by Alanzo Frink  
3:02   Jermaine Couisnard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:00   Offensive rebound by Jermaine Couisnard  
2:53 +3 TJ Moss made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jermaine Couisnard 20-34
2:33   Personal foul on Trae Hannibal  
2:29   Mitchell Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:27   Defensive rebound by Jermaine Couisnard  
2:21   Shooting foul on Mitchell Smith  
2:21   Jalyn McCreary missed 1st of 2 free throws  
2:21   Jalyn McCreary missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
2:21   Jalyn McCreary missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
2:20   Defensive rebound by Javon Pickett  
2:05   Backcourt turnover on Reed Nikko  
2:00 +2 Jermaine Couisnard made layup, assist by TJ Moss 20-36
1:46   Reed Nikko missed layup, blocked by Alanzo Frink  
1:44   Offensive rebound by Missouri  
1:42   Lost ball turnover on Dru Smith, stolen by Jermaine Couisnard  
1:39   Shooting foul on Kobe Brown  
1:39 +1 Jermaine Couisnard made 1st of 2 free throws 20-37
1:39   Jermaine Couisnard missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
1:39   Defensive rebound by Tray Jackson  
1:16 +2 Tray Jackson made layup, assist by Javon Pickett 22-37
1:16   Shooting foul on Justin Minaya  
1:16   Tray Jackson missed free throw  
1:16   Defensive rebound by South Carolina  
1:16   Personal foul on Reed Nikko  
1:16   Justin Minaya missed 1st of 2 free throws  
1:16 +1 Justin Minaya made 2nd of 2 free throws 22-38
1:16 +1 Justin Minaya made 2nd of 2 free throws 22-39
1:03 +2 Javon Pickett made layup 24-39
54.0 +2 Jermaine Couisnard made layup 24-41
43.0   Javon Pickett missed layup, blocked by Maik Kotsar  
41.0   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
22.0   Offensive foul on Jermaine Couisnard  
22.0   Turnover on Jermaine Couisnard  
4.0 +2 Javon Pickett made jump shot 26-41

2nd Half

Time Team Play Score
19:41   Keyshawn Bryant missed 3-pt. jump shot  
19:39   Defensive rebound by Xavier Pinson  
19:18   Xavier Pinson missed layup  
19:16   Offensive rebound by Xavier Pinson  
19:03   Lost ball turnover on Xavier Pinson, stolen by Justin Minaya  
19:03 +3 AJ Lawson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Justin Minaya 26-44
18:36   Xavier Pinson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
18:34   Offensive rebound by Javon Pickett  
18:34   Shooting foul on Keyshawn Bryant  
18:34 +1 Javon Pickett made 1st of 2 free throws 27-44
18:34 +1 Javon Pickett made 2nd of 2 free throws 28-44
18:22   Lost ball turnover on Jermaine Couisnard, stolen by Javon Pickett  
18:14   Xavier Pinson missed layup, blocked by Keyshawn Bryant  
18:12   Defensive rebound by Justin Minaya  
18:09 +2 Maik Kotsar made dunk, assist by Jermaine Couisnard 28-46
17:38   Xavier Pinson missed jump shot  
17:36   Offensive rebound by Reed Nikko  
17:35 +2 Reed Nikko made dunk 30-46
17:23   Justin Minaya missed 3-pt. jump shot  
17:21   Defensive rebound by Reed Nikko  
17:01   Xavier Pinson missed jump shot  
16:59   Defensive rebound by AJ Lawson  
16:53   Shooting foul on Mitchell Smith  
16:53   Justin Minaya missed 1st of 2 free throws  
16:53   Justin Minaya missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
16:53   Justin Minaya missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
16:53   Defensive rebound by Tray Jackson  
16:36   Out of bounds turnover on Tray Jackson  
16:25   AJ Lawson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
16:23   Defensive rebound by Kobe Brown  
16:08 +2 Tray Jackson made jump shot 32-46
15:47   Jermaine Couisnard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
15:45   Offensive rebound by South Carolina  
15:24   Justin Minaya missed 3-pt. jump shot  
15:22   Defensive rebound by Missouri  
15:22   Personal foul on Maik Kotsar  
15:13 +2 Tray Jackson made dunk, assist by Kobe Brown 34-46
14:49   Shooting foul on Mitchell Smith  
14:49   Maik Kotsar missed 1st of 2 free throws  
14:49 +1 Maik Kotsar made 2nd of 2 free throws 34-47
14:45   Personal foul on Jair Bolden  
14:38   Tray Jackson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
14:36   Defensive rebound by Wildens Leveque  
14:19   Jair Bolden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
14:17   Offensive rebound by Wildens Leveque  
14:13 +2 Wildens Leveque made jump shot 34-49
13:59 +2 Reed Nikko made jump shot, assist by Dru Smith 36-49
13:43 +2 Jermaine Couisnard made jump shot 36-51
13:21   3-second violation turnover on Dru Smith  
13:05 +2 Maik Kotsar made jump shot 36-53
12:52   Reed Nikko missed layup  
12:50   Defensive rebound by Jermaine Couisnard  
12:44   Jermaine Couisnard missed jump shot  
12:42   Defensive rebound by Torrence Watson  
12:34   Shooting foul on Wildens Leveque  
12:34 +1 Dru Smith made 1st of 2 free throws 37-53
12:34 +1 Dru Smith made 2nd of 2 free throws 38-53
12:14   Shooting foul on Xavier Pinson  
12:14   Maik Kotsar missed 1st of 2 free throws  
12:14 +1 Maik Kotsar made 2nd of 2 free throws 38-54
11:58   Personal foul on Wildens Leveque  
11:55   Torrence Watson missed jump shot  
11:53   Offensive rebound by Reed Nikko  
11:48 +2 Reed Nikko made tip-in 40-54
11:36   Lost ball turnover on Trae Hannibal, stolen by Dru Smith  
11:28 +2 Parker Braun made layup, assist by Reed Nikko 42-54
11:14   Alanzo Frink missed layup  
11:12   Defensive rebound by Reed Nikko  
10:58   Shooting foul on Alanzo Frink  
10:58 +1 Dru Smith made 1st of 2 free throws 43-54
10:58   Dru Smith missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
10:58   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
10:40   Shooting foul on Reed Nikko  
10:40 +1 Maik Kotsar made 1st of 2 free throws 43-55
10:40 +1 Maik Kotsar made 2nd of 2 free throws 43-56
10:21   Torrence Watson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:19   Offensive rebound by Missouri  
10:05   Lost ball turnover on Dru Smith, stolen by Jermaine Couisnard  
9:53 +2 Maik Kotsar made jump shot, assist by AJ Lawson 43-58
9:30   Dru Smith missed jump shot  
9:28   Defensive rebound by Justin Minaya  
9:21 +3 Jair Bolden made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jermaine Couisnard 43-61
9:00   Offensive foul on Dru Smith  
9:00   Turnover on Dru Smith  
8:43   Trae Hannibal missed jump shot, blocked by Dru Smith  
8:41   Defensive rebound by Tray Jackson  
8:24   Mitchell Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:22   Defensive rebound by Maik Kotsar  
8:04   Maik Kotsar missed layup  
8:02   Defensive rebound by Mitchell Smith  
7:36   Javon Pickett missed jump shot  
7:34   Defensive rebound by Justin Minaya  
7:18 +2 Jair Bolden made layup 43-63
6:57   Shooting foul on Justin Minaya  
6:57 +1 Xavier Pinson made 1st of 2 free throws 44-63
6:57 +1 Xavier Pinson made 2nd of 2 free throws 45-63
6:50 +2 Jermaine Couisnard made layup 45-65
6:32   Xavier Pinson missed jump shot  
6:30   Defensive rebound by AJ Lawson  
6:06   Shooting foul on Tray Jackson  
6:06 +1 Maik Kotsar made 1st of 2 free throws 45-66
6:06 +1 Maik Kotsar made 2nd of 2 free throws 45-67
5:49