USC’s Henry, Sheppard suspended for remainder of regular season

South Carolina's Demetrius Henry (21), who has started 19 games this season, is one of two players suspended for the rest of the regular season. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

COLUMBIA — A South Carolina men’s basketball team which has been undermanned during much of conference play will be without two players, one of them a starter, at least until the SEC tournament.

Just hours before the Gamecocks were slated to tip off against Georgia, head coach Frank Martin announced that sophomore forward Demetrius Henry and freshman forward Shamiek Sheppard had been suspended for the remainder of USC’s regular season because of conduct detrimental to the team.

Martin did not specify the violations. Henry has played in 21 games this season, starting 19, and averaged 6 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest. Sheppard recovered from an ACL injury suffered last summer and has played in seven games, averaging 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per outing.

“Our program is based on helping young people grow as individuals and helping them succeed off the court in life after college, and winning on the court as a member of our team,” Martin said in a statement. “We have expectations and responsibilities that we ask our players to meet on an everyday basis, and unfortunately this has not happened. I will revisit the suspensions prior to the SEC Tournament.”

The suspensions, combined with an illness suffered by freshman guard Marcus Stroman, left the Gamecocks (12-12, 3-9 SEC) with nine players for Tuesday’s game against the Bulldogs (16-8, 7-5) in Athens. Henry missed three games earlier this season due to concussion symptoms, while reserve guard Justin McKie missed five games and forward Michael Carrera missed three each with the same condition.

South Carolina, trying to avoid its sixth consecutive losing season, has five regular-season contests remaining after Tuesday night’s game at Georgia. The earliest Henry and Sheppard could return is March 11 for the opening round of the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn.