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Veteran frontcourt struggles as South Carolina loses exhibition to Division II Augusta

South Carolina v Gonzaga

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01: Head coach Frank Martin of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts in the first half against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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South Carolina suffered a puzzling loss to a Division II opponent on Friday night as the Gamecocks hosted an exhibition game. Coming only 10 days before South Carolina begins their regular season, the Gamecocks suffered a 77-72 loss to Augusta.

With the veteran frontcourt of Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar struggling to bring intensity and production, the Gamecocks blew a 12-point first-half lead as they lost to a DII opponent who only finished 16-13 last season. While South Carolina can point to the fact that Martin didn’t use seven timeouts, while basically allowing his young team to play through mistakes during a close game, this is still a really bad loss for a team entering a deep SEC this season.

“I’m kind of happy that I kind of let it happen, for lack of better words,” Martin said to reporters after the loss. “Because we weren’t very good in practice this week. And we got so many new guys on our team that I’m still trying to figure some stuff out.

“So I just kind of let this happen.”

South Carolina opens the regular season with three buy games at home against USC Upstate, Stony Brook and Norfolk State before they have to face Providence and George Washington or Michigan on Nov. 17/18 at a neutral site.

Obviously, the Gamecocks need more out of their veteran frontcourt, as Silva battled foul trouble against a DII team after having that happen a lot last season. But, Martin also left Silva out of action for the final 10 minutes -- something he wouldn’t typically do during the regular season. Silva finished with only seven points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action while Kotsar had four points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Gamecocks also struggled with 13 missed free throws and 16 turnovers, as this team has plenty to fix besides for an inconsistent frontcourt effort.

It’ll be interesting to see if this loss acts as a wake-up call for South Carolina and how they handle this preseason loss. If things don’t turn around, it could be a very long season for the Gamecocks in the SEC.