The South Carolina Gamecocks have suffered yet another loss this season, here are our takeaways
Mississippi State(13-11) beat South Carolina(5-12) in a game that was over from the beginning. Ben Howland’s squad outplayed the Gamecocks in every way despite South Carolina sharpening their defense in the second half. So what have we learned about South Carolina from this ugly loss?
South Carolina needs to improve on offense desperately.
The defense has been abysmal lately, but the Gamecocks need someone not named AJ Lawson to show up on offense. South Carolina only shot 29 percent and 19 percent from beyond the arc. That’s horrible when you’re facing a bottom-half SEC team. It’s truly insane that South Carolina has won the turnover battle both times against Mississippi State this season, but they haven’t turned their forced turnovers into anything.
The biggest issue last night was shot selection. You can’t have Keyshawn Bryant not shoot a wide-open three-point shot or TJ Moss shoot from behind the backboard. Even when the shot selection was good, South Carolina just couldn’t knock it down when it mattered. Even AJ Lawson was held to just 10 points with only one three-pointer. This was just a performance that you want to move past and focus on the next game.
The defense couldn’t win at the basket or the perimeter.
The Gamecocks didn’t allow more than 80 points since the last time they played the Bulldogs. The issue was South Carolina couldn’t defend the perimeter, and they couldn’t win on the boards. South Carolina let the Bulldogs shoot 47.1 percent and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. They did a much better job of slowing down D.J. Stewart, but the Bulldogs just had more talent to spread the ball around.
The Gamecocks lost the rebound battle 24-49. The Bulldogs just had more size, and the combination of Tolu Smith and Abdul Ado was too much for South Carolina to deal with. 55 percent of Mississippi State’s scoring came from inside the paint. They just bullied South Carolina on the inside and exposed the zone defense. If South Carolina wants to improve on defense, they need to simplify the scheme. With limited practices, the Frank Martin zone defense hasn’t worked in games.
Who can you blame anymore?
COVID has made it impossible to place any blame on South Carolina’s stretch of horrible games. Frank Martin has dealt with the virus, and the players have also dealt with health issues. When you’re bad on every end, it’s really hard to not place blame on the coach. The blame really goes to both Martin and the players. You have to expect more from this team next season or else Martin’s seat will be as hot as lava.
This was South Carolina’s sixth straight loss, and it was a 21 point loss to a team that will most likely end up in the NIT. It has been a weird season, but the most fans can hope for is a strong showing in the SEC tournament. The other weird thing about this game was the lack of transparency with Seventh Woods’ injury. With two games left in the regular season, next season is looking more fun than what’s left of this season.