Veterans Keyshawn Bryant and Jermaine Couisnard were surprise absences for South Carolina in Thursdays opening game of the SEC tournament against Ole Miss. . . The SEC Network announced both players would be out due to coachs decision shortly before the game, with senior guard Seventh Woods also out due to a groin injury suffered at Kentucky. Playing short-handed, the No. 11 seed Gamecocks fell to No. 6 seed Ole Miss, 76-59, ending their season with a 6-15 record. . . After the game, head coach Frank Martin addressed what happened. . . All three are dealing with physical injuries, and just the mental toll that its taken on all three is not fair, Martin said. Its been extremely difficult. . . At the end of the day Im not going to put winning a game over young peoples mental health, young peoples physical health. . Asked directly about the TV report that called Bryant and Couisnard missing the game a coachs decision, Martin emphasized that their absences were not disciplined-related. . . South Carolina had three separate COVID-19 shutdowns during the 2020-21 season. . . Im worried about mentally where theyre at. I cant be more honest than that, Martin said. This year has been ridiculously taxing on our players mentally and physically. . . Behind junior A. J. Lawson, Bryant and Couisnard ranked second and third on the team in scoring, with 14. 4 points per game and 10. 1 points per game, respectively. In recent weeks, Martin had praised Bryant for his growth as a vocal leader on the team. . . After a breakout redshirt freshman year, Couisnard struggled shooting the ball this season, finishing with a 30. 2% clip from the field. He missed two games during the teams six-game losing streak with an ankle injury, and he missed the last game of the regular season at Kentucky with a rib injury suffered during practice.