COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Villanova transfer Tyrone Johnson had a career high 18 points in his South Carolina debut and freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell added 14 points to lead the Gamecocks to their 13th straight opening game victory 82-44 over Longwood on Saturday.
Johnson was granted a waiver by the NCAA this week to play immediately instead of after the first semester and was in the starting lineup for South Carolina. He scored the team's first bucket and went on to surpass his previous high of 14 points set for the Wildcats against Connecticut in February 2012.The Gamecocks took control of the Lancers with a 19-4 run in the final five minutes before halftime to lead 37-15 at the break.Brenton Williams had 14 points for the Gamecocks while Michael Carrera had 12 points and nine rebounds.Tristan Carey had 12 points to lead Longwood, which shot less than 23 percent.The Gamecocks were led on the boards by Mindaugas Kacinas, who had 14 to top his previous career high of 13 set last season. Kacinas also scored 8 points.South Carolina coach Frank Martin overhauled the roster after last season's 14-18 mark which included a 4-14 record in Southeastern Conference play. Four holdovers from Martin's predecessor Darrin Horn left Eric Smith, R.J. Slawson, Damien Leonard and Brian Richardson while the Gamecocks brought in seven freshmen and transfer guard Johnson.It wasn't until veterans Williams and Carrera took the floor that the Gamecocks got going. The pair scored 13 of 15 points during a four-minute stretch as South Carolina moved in front 18-4 capped by Carrera's two straight 3-pointers.Longwood rallied with a 7-0 run before the Gamecocks took off, again fueled by Williams and Carrera. Williams had a three and a driving basket to extend the lead to 27-13.Freshman Duane Notice closed the decisive, 19-4 run to the half with back-to-back 3-pointers.It was a difficult debut for Longwood coach Jayson Gee. The longtime Cleveland State assistant watched the Lancers miss their first seven shots before Carey hit the season's first bucket nearly six minutes into the game. The Lancers shot 13 of 57 (22.7 percent) for the game and were just 4 of 22 from behind the arc.The struggles will likely continue this month for the Big South Conference club, which plays at TCU, Penn State and St. John's over its first six weeks.