Dozier's 21 lead No. 20 South Carolina to 68-50 win
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) PJ Dozier came to South Carolina last season as coach Frank Martin's first McDonald's All-America recruit. Things, however, did not go Dozier's way.
Just look at him now.
Dozier had a career-high 21 points to lead the 20th-ranked Gamecocks to a 68-50 victory over Vermont and a 7-0 start for the second consecutive year.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore topped his previous best performance of 17 points in a season-opening win over Louisiana Tech. Two games later, it was Dozier who hit the game-winning shot in a 70-69 victory over Monmouth.
It's a dramatic step forward form 2015-16 when Dozier was regularly in foul trouble and routinely pulled from games by Martin because of sub-standard defense.
''Last year wasn't my year,'' Dozier said. ''This year, (Martin) has that trust in me.''
Dozier helped the Gamecocks to a 13-1 run at the start of the second half. Maik Kotsar had eight points in the charge while Dozier had a 3-pointer and a thunderous finish to an alley-oop pass that had the crowd on its feet as South Carolina took a 49-32 lead.
The Catamounts (6-3) could not respond to taller, quicker South Carolina.
Last year, Martin said Dozier committed the triple sins of turnovers, not defending and getting into foul trouble. ''This year, he's playing hard, he's defending and he's never in foul trouble,'' Martin said. ''Last time I checked, you haven't seen any of those turnovers where he throws it to the guy at the top of the key so he can dunk it in the other basket.''
Dozier had three of the Gamecocks' four 3-pointers. Kotsar had 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, mostly from close to the basket, while Chris Silva added 12 points for South Carolina.
Dozier had six rebounds, as did the 6-9 Silva, along with three steals.
Anthony Lamb had 14 points, the only Vermont player in double figures.
THE BIG PICTURE
Vermont: The Catamounts have won 20 or more games in coach John Becker's five seasons and had a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and the NIT in 2014. They do it with a mix of strong-shooting upperclassmen and enough young talent to compete in the American East Conference. But Vermont doesn't have enough firepower to keep up with a top-20 team like South Carolina. The Gamecocks' defense kept the Catamounts off balance most of the way as they fell behind by 14 points in the opening half.
South Carolina: For their success last week in defeating ranked opponents Michigan and Syracuse, the Gamecocks are very much a work in progress. One starter, Kotsar, and four of the five players off the bench are in their first years at South Carolina and several times an animated Martin yanked players, loudly questioning their technique. He calmed in the second half with South Carolina's quick start.
South Carolina should maintain its spot in the rankings as long as it stays undefeated.
With South Carolina in the rankings for the first time this season, Martin worried his team's mindset might be off facing Vermont following wins against ranked teams Michigan and Syracuse last week. ''I'm glad this game's over with,'' Martin said. ''I just had a feeling that because of the success of the last couple of games against name teams, we weren't going to be as clean was we needed to be.''
Vermont coach John Becker believes his players are on the right path to another successful season in the America East Conference. They're just not there yet. He said the loss to South Carolina exposed some flaws that will need to be fixed in the next month. ''I think we found we're just not tough enough yet,'' he said.
Vermont gets almost a week off before starting three straight at home with Dartmouth on Dec. 7.
South Carolina concludes a two-game home stand against Florida International on Sunday.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
|31.3||Min. Per Game||31.3|
|20.0||Pts. Per Game||20.0|
|3.3||Ast. Per Game||3.3|
|7.0||Reb. Per Game||7.0|
|50.0||Field Goal %||47.7|
|45.5||Three Point %||48.3|
|60.0||Free Throw %||87.5|
|Defensive rebound by Justin McKie||27.0|
|Field Goals||18-51 (35.3%)||29-62 (46.8%)|
|3-Pointers||5-20 (25.0%)||4-13 (30.8%)|
|Free Throws||9-14 (64.3%)||6-7 (85.7%)|