South Carolina got the best of the Aggies Saturday night as they won their 2nd game on the road 74-63. The Gamecocks have shown much improvement over the past week as this game became South Carolina’s third straight win. If South Carolina intends on making the big dance, they clearly have a long way to go as they currently aren’t even in conversation. However, the team has been taking steps in the right direction and after the win Saturday night, they may be beginning to build momentum. Below are the positives and negatives from Saturday night, along with a look ahead to Mississippi State and a prediction of that contest.
Second Half Play
After trailing by four points at the half, the Gamecocks took control during the second half, scoring 47 points, just shy of twice the number of points they scored in the first half.
Carolina’s second half play has proved to be their specialty as they have scored an average of 46 points in the second half in the last three games while only allowing an average of 29.
#Gamecocks currently on a 17-1 run. It’s crazy how this team continues to turn it on in the second half.— The Spurs Up Show (@TheSpursUpShow) January 30, 2022
The Gamecocks looked like an entirely different basketball team in the second half as shots began to fall and the team allowed less turnovers. Defensively, the Gamecocks seemed far less timid in the second half as they generated several Aggie turnovers and held A&M under 35 FG%.
Overall, Carolina proves to be a strenuous opponent in the second half that should prove troublesome for several big opponents coming up on the schedule.
Shooting From Behind the Arc
South Carolina put up one of their most accurate performances from behind the line against the Aggies than they have the entire year.
Carolina went 47.4% from deep, sinking nine 3s out of 19 attempts. South Carolina has proved several times this season that they can be dangerous from beyond the arch but have yet to put up a performance as good as they did Saturday night.
If the Gamecocks are able to put up similar numbers as they did against A&M the remainder of the season, they will certainly find themselves with more wins than expected.
Game By Game Consistency
Although South Carolina’s winning streak only stands at three and their first half performance appeared rather lousy, consistency has haunted the Gamecocks for the past few seasons; therefore, I have to give credit where credit is due.
Over the past few years, it seems as if any time Carolina basketball gains any sort of momentum, they tend to blow a game with a downright dreadful performance. Many assumed that after two comfortable wins, Carolina would find a way to drop this game against the Aggies in ugly fashion.
However, the Gamecocks prevailed with a phenomenal second half performance, similar to the two we saw before against Georgia and Vandy. Perhaps the Gamecocks will make it four with a win over Mississippi State?
First Half Performance
Plain and simple, South Carolina has to put up a better performance in the first half against some of the stronger SEC foes coming up on the schedule.
Teams such as Tennessee, Kentucky, or even Auburn are virtually unbeatable unless South Carolina is capable of playing the same way they have in the second half in the first half. If Carolina continues its lackluster play in the first half, teams such as these will put up so many points that the game will be out of reach.
Even with a satisfactory second half performance. South Carolina has been outscored by the opposition in the first half in their last three games.
This issue has to change or else their record will suffer the remainder of the season.
Carolina has appeared to cut the average number of turnovers per game down the past couple of weeks. However, the Gamecocks need to find a way to force more turnovers than they give up in the games to come if they are to be successful.
In their previous two games, A&M turned the ball over an average of 18.5 times while Carolina allowed an average of 11.5 turnovers. When the two teams met on Saturday the Gamecocks lost the turnover battle to the Aggies.
Although South Carolina has shown improvement in this area, the Gamecocks are going to have to win more turnover battles in the weeks to come.
Obviously this one seems harsh… The Gamecocks are beginning to gain momentum and Texas A&M came as an unexpected win to many.
This team has shown improvement with this win. It is nothing to look down upon if you’re looking towards next season or overall improvement this season.
However, Carolina needs to step up their play as the schedule is only getting tougher. A&M came into the game on a three-game losing streak. Although they are 15-6 on the season, it is safe to say they have shown clear regression coming into this game.
Against opponents similar to A&M, Carolina needs to put up more points and give up less if they’re going to compete against a Tennessee, a Kentucky, or even an Auburn team.
Mississippi State currently holds the same record as South Carolina at 13-7. However, the Bulldogs have only allowed one home loss.
Starkville has been a difficult place to play to say the least. Mississippi State has only played two ranked games both losses to Kentucky and A&M. However, they were only defeated by Kentucky by 8 points in Lexington.
The Bulldogs have also put-up impressive wins against Arkansas and Alabama.
Overall Mississippi State has proven to be a middle tier SEC opponent that is very strong at home. I would argue they could have beaten Kentucky had they played them in Starkville.
If the Gamecocks were to meet the Bulldogs in Colonial life on Tuesday, I would feel a lot better about their chances. However, MSU is simply too good a basketball team at home, while the Gamecocks overall have struggled on the road.
South Carolina will have to show even further improvement from A&M if they are to have a shot at beating the Bulldogs Tuesday night.
Final Score: Mississippi State 77, South Carolina 68