South Carolina men conclude historic season after former Gamecock Jermaine Cousinard torches team

Posted 3/26/24

The Gamecock men's basketball team lost in the opening round of the 2024 NCAA tournament after their former player's record-breaking game.

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South Carolina men conclude historic season after former Gamecock Jermaine Cousinard torches team


Things weren’t personal between former South Carolina guard Jermaine Cousinard and his former team entering their matchup in the first round of the NCAA tournament last week. 

As the game progressed, however, and the trash talk began, Couisnard found his motivation and recorded a historic 40-point performance. 

“I kind of heard [Jacobi Wright] say something on the court to me. That’s what got me going,” Couisnard said. “I’m a competitor, and that’s a guy that I kind of mentored.”

It was a full-circle moment for the 25-year-old guard who set a new career-high and broke the Oregon record for points in a tournament game in front of his family. 

Couisnard poured in buckets, going 14 of 22 from the field with five three-pointers and seven free throws. After the game, Couisnard said it was a fun game and he still appreciates the program for helping him develop. 

“It was fun, man. Those guys, they kind of made me,” he said. “I grew a lot, I learned a lot when I was there, so I appreciate those guys more than anything.”

The Gamecocks suffered from long scoring droughts, which allowed the Ducks to slowly build a lead that became too much to overcome. 

South Carolina ended the first half giving up an 11-0 Oregon run. Ta’lon Cooper hit a buzzer-beater from halfcourt to bring the Gamecocks within five going into the break. 

The Gamecocks shot 32% from the floor in the half, while Oregon shot above 60%. South Carolina pulled its numbers up in the second but failed to pull the Ducks down. 

“They were just, you know, hitting tough shots, getting the ball down inside, maybe some offensive rebounds. They shot a lot of free throws as well,” Gamecock guard Meechie Johnson said. 

The Ducks went up by as many as 18 points in the second half. South Carolina brought it back to 10 at one point but never managed to crack single digits. 

Defensively, Gamecock head coach Lamont Paris said they threw several looks at Oregon but nothing was working. 

“I wish we had found a way to slow [Couisnard] down better,” he said. “He makes tough shots.  He doesn’t average 40, but he makes tough shots.”

Johnson and Cooper led the Gamecocks in scoring with 24 and 15 points respectively. 

Oregon’s N’Faly Dante shined behind Couisnard, finishing with 23 points and only two missed shots.

The loss marks the end of a historic second year for the Gamecocks under Lamont Paris. The program finished with the most wins ever in a single season, 26, and placed second in the SEC standings after being projected to finish dead last. 

“I think one day here in the next couple days to a week or whatever, all that stuff will start to set in on what we actually did,” Paris said. “When you’re in the midst of it, it’s hard to do that. …They keep coming, and you’re just so locked into trying to do what you need to do to try to give the guys this opportunity right here, which was our ultimate goal.”

Paris and the team will have a chance to run it back next year and look to get back to the big dance. The coach inked a new contract through 2029-30 worth about 4.4 million dollars annually after being named the SEC Coach of the Year.

Paris said this season was a good step in laying a foundation for what’s to come. The team next season may not reach the same peak record-wise, but there are plenty of places for improvement that could make the Gamecocks a better overall team.

“Ultimately, we’d like to be playing back in this tournament again and put ourselves in a position to do that,” Paris said. “I like, really like what our foundation looks like, and I think more importantly, what those individuals are as basketball players, the culture that we have developed, the way in which we work, the way in which we interact, the way in which we respond to coaching. ... I’m extremely optimistic. That’s why I decided to come back. I love it at South Carolina. I love our guys. I love the people I’m around.”

Gamecock basketball, March Madness, NCAA tournament, Oregon basketball, Jermaine Couisnard


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