- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - With leading scorer and rebounder Sindarius Thornwell out indefinitely, No. 20 South Carolina turned to Duane Notice and P.J. Dozier to fill the void on Sunday.

Notice tied his career high with 27 points and Dozier added 20 as the Gamecocks beat Florida International 70-54.

The Gamecocks (8-0) announced before the game that Thornwell had been suspended indefinitely for violating an athletic department policy.

“We found out (Saturday) after our practice,” Dozier said. “At the end of the day, our team knew that the game was still going to go on with (Thornwell) or without (Thornwell).

“We knew this team was going to be ready to come out and play. We had to continue to keep our same mindset as we had for the games we had already played.”

Notice matched his scoring high, which he set in 2014 against Marshall. He made six of 10 3-point attempts.

“It felt good confidence wise,” Notice said. “I’ve been struggling shooting the ball all season. But I’ve been in the gym every morning with P.J., (Sindarius Thornwell) and Justin (McKie) so I knew it was going to come.”

FIU scored 20 points for the Panthers (3-6), while Michael Kessens had 12 and Anthony Bowell added 10. The Panthers were playing without their leading scorer, Donte McGill, who is averaging 19.1 points per game, and never led.

South Carolina was outrebounded 35-34 but connected on eight of 21 3-point shots (38.1 percent). The Gamecocks dished out 16 assists and forced 23 turnovers while committing only nine.

Dozier and freshmen Maik Kotsar led the team with four steals apiece.

“We were active with our hands when they tried to drive it into crowded areas,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “That’s why the steals were up … When guys try to drive the ball, the whole theory is you’ve got to crowd the space so they don’t have freedom to see and pass. Our guys had active hands in those moments.”

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina’s winning streak could be in jeopardy if Thornwell remains out of action. The 6-foot-5 senior leads the Gamecocks with 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. Martin was in no mood to discuss Thornwell’s suspension following the game.

“Before we even start, obviously, you got the press release before the game and P.J. (Dozier) already answered as to when everything was found out,” he said. “If anyone asks me anything further about that situation, I’m not going to disrespect you but I’m walking out.

“I’m here to talk about our game, not about any individual that didn’t play.”

CLOSE CALL

Dozier was forced to leave the game midway through the third quarter with an apparent leg injury. He returned a few minutes later, however.

“I just kind of pulled up a little too fast and felt a pull in my hamstring,” Dozier said. “I shook it off a little bit and then came back and finished the game.”

UP NEXT

FIU: The Panthers have the week off, then return to action next Sunday at Florida Gulf Coast.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks take a break for exams and return to play on Dec. 12 against Seton Hall in the Under Armour Reunion in New York.

___

More AP college basketball at https://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25


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