WKU falls to South Carolina 75-64, leaves Asheville Championship without a win

WKU+senior+guard+Luke+Frampton+%2814%29+scrambles+with+an+Alabama+State+University+player+for+possession+of+the+ball+during+their+game+in+Diddle+Arena+on+Nov.+9%2C+2021.

Marshall C. Canupp

WKU senior guard Luke Frampton (14) scrambles with an Alabama State University player for possession of the ball during their game in Diddle Arena on Nov. 9, 2021.

Kaden Gaylord-Day, Men's basketball reporter

 WKU (1-2) dropped its second and final game in the Asheville Championship to South Carolina (2-1) 75-64, ending the weekend winless.

“Lots of things we need to get better at, lots of things we can learn from,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “We didn’t win either game, but I can tell you [there’s] some positive things from this to build on moving forward.”

Fifth-year Josh Anderson led the team with 16 points on 5-7 shooting with four rebounds and two steals. Senior Jairus Hamilton had 13 points on 5-11 shooting with six rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Dayvion Mcknight finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

“Like coach said, I feel like it’s just a learning experience for us,” Anderson said. “We’re only three or four games in, we got a new team, I feel like if we could just take away those first half starts that we have and just get back in practice and work on those.”

Camron Justice, after being granted an extra year of eligibility, played his first game back in a Hilltopper uniform since 2020 after getting married Saturday afternoon. 

It was another rough first half start for the Hilltoppers but South Carolina wasn’t much better. The two teams combined to go 11-of-40 across the first 40 shots of the game and only had a combined 22 points for the first 10 minutes of the half. 

The Gamecocks slowly took over, hitting four of their next six shots including a couple three’s to help build a double-digit lead. Both teams struggled in the same areas, whether it was turnovers, free throws or shooting in general. 

“As far as the shooting goes, we’re not worried,” Anderson said. “We’re confident in all our players. We’ve got Luke [Frampton] and Cam [Justice] on the wings, me myself I was working on my outside game, we’ve got [Dayvion McKnight] and [Jairus Hamilton], as far as shooting goes we’re not worried at all.”

WKU created 12 first half turnovers with seven steals but were only able to score nine points off those turnovers, the same as USC. WKU improved on getting to the free throw line but only converted 3-9 from the charity stripe. 

The game was tied at 11 before the Gamecocks used the last 10 minutes of the half to pull away and take a 31-24 lead into halftime. 

WKU stepped the intensity up in the second half to put pressure on the South Carolina offense, forcing six turnovers and scoring 11 points in the first four minutes. The Hilltoppers scored 40 points in the second half compared to just 21 in the first.

Frampton scored seven of the first 11 points and hit his first three of the season after going 0-15, following it up with a contested dunk that brought the bench to its feet.

From there the offense went stagnant. The Gamecocks slowly took advantage as WKU went cold. USC went on to take a 15-point lead. 

As in every WKU game, the Hilltoppers may be down but they’re never out. WKU went on an immediate 8-0 run to bring the deficit down to seven, but the Gamecocks’ offense proved to be too much as they were able to get to the free throw line and hit clutch jumpers to keep the lead in their possession, taking the win by a comfortable 11-point margin.

WKU went 12-19 from the free throw line and recorded 17 steals but also had 18 turnovers. South Carolina had 24 turnovers, but out-rebounded WKU 46-28. 

WKU will take five days off before heading across the border to take on the 12th ranked Memphis Tigers. Game time is set for Friday evening at 7 p.m. CT. 

Men’s basketball reporter Kaden Gaylord-Day can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @_KLG3.