Well damnit. Gamecocks lose to State, 54-52.

Well that sucked.  A game that was never fully in hand but certainly a likely victory for the Gamecocks was thrown away by the team quite literally in Starkville, MS, and the Gamecocks begin the SEC season 0-1 and staring down the barrel of a brutal 9 weeks.

There’s not much good to be said about what happened last night, so we’ll try to make this recap quick and painless.  We only wish the teams could’ve done the same last night.

Four Factors USC MSU
eFG 47.1 38.8
TO% 35.2 24.7
Oreb% 41.4 29.0
FTA/FGA 21.2 51.0

Team

God, can you imagine what would’ve happened if State could’ve actually made a few 3PAs.

In a matchup of USC’s good offense v. MSU’s good defense, State clearly came out on top, wreaking complete havoc with their 1-3-1 zone, something Carolina never adjusted to really.  It’s not rocket science to say that if you turn the ball over on 35% of your possessions you’ll almost never win the game.

The Gamecocks offensive rebounding (which was far better than I remembered when watching the game – shout out to State and ESPN3 for having horrid Gametrackers and video on the offer last evening) did something it typically does – it gave the Gamecocks enough chances to score that it pretty much countered the woeful turnover percentage.  Of course, this is a false choice – there’s nothing about us being good at offensive rebounding that requires us to be terrible at turnovers.

However, in the end, South Carolina took 11 FTAs, 30 2PAs, and 21 3PAs last night, which gave them the opportunity to score 134 points (multiply each shot by the value associated with it).  And when you do that math for State, they only had the chance to score 133.  This game was, somehow, still out there for the taking at the end.

If you score 0.79 points per possession, you really don’t deserve to win.  Beating a dead horse here, but Carolina scored 1.22 points per possession on the trips down the floor where it didn’t turn the ball over.  Two fewer turnovers and it’s a completely different ballgame.

On the other side, credit the defense for shutting down a woeful State team, as it should have, holding them to 0.82 points per possession (the best anyone has done against State aside from North Carolina this season).  That is a season low for Carolina, and by a lnog shot – the next best effort on the season is 0.91 against Missouri State in Mexico.  Some of this has to do with how putrid State’s offense is, but credit all the same to a Carolina team that has not had much success on the defensive end all year.

Now some of this can’t completely be attributed to the defense – as we’ve covered before, it takes defensive skill to prevent teams from attempting three-pointers, but not from making them.  The Gamecocks defended the 2PA reasonably well and kept State off the boards, while also creating more turnovers than they normally do (State turned the ball over 25% of its trips down the floor, the second-best effort of the season for Carolina).

All those niceties aside, it comes down to a simple, incontrovertible fact – the Gamecocks lost last night because they couldn’t stop turning the ball over to save their lives.

Individual

South Carolina
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Brian Richardson
35
27
20
2-8
5-11
1-2
4
4
1
1
Eric Smith
35
15
8
4-6
0-1
0-1
1
2
5
2
Mindaugas Kacinas
30
8
0
0-3
0-0
0-0
1
2
1
2
Lakeem Jackson
26
16
4
2-2
0-0
0-2
1
3
1
4
Bruce Ellington
23
38
11
1-1
3-6
0-0
0
0
2
9
Laimonas Chatkevicius
18
23
4
1-3
0-1
2-2
3
3
0
3
Damien Leonard
12
11
0
0-1
0-1
0-0
0
2
0
1
RJ Slawson
8
3
0-0
0-0
3-4
1
3
0
1
Michael Carrera
7
2
1-3
0-0
0-0
1
2
0
0
Brenton Williams
6
2
1-3
0-1
0-0
0
1
0
1
Team
1
3
0
TOTAL
200
54
12-30
8-21
6-11
13
25
10
24
68
0.79
40.0%
38.1%
54.5%
39.4%
73.5%
50.0%
35.3%
Mississippi St.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Fred Thomas
33
19
8
4-7
0-4
0-2
0
2
1
1
Colin Borchert
31
21
8
3-7
0-1
2-2
2
4
1
3
Craig Sword
28
42
18
6-10
0-1
6-8
1
2
2
7
Roquez Johnson
26
21
14
3-3
0-0
8-10
1
2
0
2
Trivante Bloodman
22
20
2
0-3
0-1
2-2
2
0
2
3
Gavin Ware
21
9
2
1-3
0-0
0-1
2
2
0
0
Jalen Steele
20
22
4
2-5
0-3
0-0
0
3
1
1
Tyson Cunningham
19
4
0
0-1
0-0
0-0
1
2
1
0
Team
0
3
0
TOTAL
200
56
19-39
0-10
18-25
9
20
8
17
68
0.82
48.7%
0.0%
72.0%
26.5%
60.6%
42.1%
25.0%

Congratulations and thank you to Brian Richardson and Eric Smith.  You both played capably and deserved better than what you got last night.  Richardson took all the shots because he was the only player capable of draining shots from the outside (though Bruce contributed a very useful 3-6 from 3PA) and the only guy regularly getting open willing to take those shots.  It’s not the way we should play, but it was forced on the team on the evening by the respective coaching staffs, and credit to Richardson for stepping up and doing his best with it (also, your one turnover in 35 minutes is something that’s easier to do when you’re a spot-up shooter, but something we still desperately needed and appreciated).

Let’s go ahead and get it out of the way – holy shit, Bruce.  I like you, I think you have many skills, you seem like a nice kid and a hard-worker and a great ambassador for the university.  You’ve also only had a few days of practice since returning from this, so I get that you were shaking off the rust.

So the fault must lie with the coaching staff, who have forgotten more basketball than I’ll ever know, but on this night stuck with you far longer than they should’ve.  On the last two possessions, there you were getting blown past and fouling the shooter to give State the two FTAs they’d need to get the win, before missing a 3PA with our last, best opportunity (of course, you were fouled and the no-call was egregious).  But it’s everything that came before that – namely, the nine turnovers in 23 minutes, which means of the 19 possessions you ended, 47 percent were a turnover.  That just can’t happen.  From anyone.  Ever.

Bruce stayed out there with Eric Smith all night, which likely helped Eric limit his turnovers (the two was a welcome sight in his line, and his 4-7 shooting was productive to go along with his five assists), but at some point, Carolina needed another scorer from either the inside or the outside.  Of the seven guys that logged over 10 minutes, the only one shooting better than 33% from outside was Richardson.  Against that zone, there were outside shots to be had, but the ball simply wasn’t in the hands of a shooter often enough.

The choice to play Brenton six minutes was baffling, his defensive deficiencies be damned.  State rolled out Trivante Bloodman for 22 minutes and Tyson Cunningham for 19 more – you’re going to sit here and tell me those guys couldn’t have been guarded effectively enough by Brenton?

The rest of the offense was horrific from the main rotation.  Kacinas missed every shot he took and only contributed one offensive rebound while coughing up the ball twice.  Lakeem had an easy bucket to start the second half, but otherwise wasn’t able to involve himself in the offense in a meaningful way, except to contribute four turnovers.  Chatkevicius did decent work on the glass, but his three turnovers ruin any of the positives, especially the abysmal one that gave State the lead at 52-50 with less than four minutes left.  For the life of me, I cannot understand how he got so many minutes this evening after playing so few for the last few weeks, especially given that R.J. was productive in his limited time on the court.

On the other end, the only guy who really burned us was Roquez Johnson, who just kept finding a way to get to the foul line and get his points.  Otherwise, the defensive effort on the evening was utterly superb, and something to build on going forward (though again, how replicable is this effort – we may not have played, and surely will not again play, an offense as bad as State’s).

Final Thoughts

Martin talks about March basketball a lot to this team, and they threw away a critical opportunity to move closer toward that goal last night.  I’m not talking about the NCAAs – I’m talking about the NIT, or hell, give me the CBI, anything that gets us an extra week or two of practice that we clearly will need going forward.

It’s hard to find positives from last night.  I honestly drove back from where I watched the game wondering to myself – how many players on this team will contribute to the next Carolina team that does make the NCAAs?  Right now, this team graduates Lakeem this season, brings in a decent freshman class, and then comes into next year lining up five seniors (Bruce, Brenton, Brian, RJ, and Eric Smith).  So are we just waiting for those five scholarships to come open?  Or can this team grow and improve as the year goes on?

I think the latter is achievable, but it starts and ends with turnovers and preventing the easy baskets that still seem to come far too frequently on the defensive end (even last night, State shot damn near 50 percent from 2PA).  Martin keeps saying he sees progress at practice, that he sees improvement.  If we don’t start seeing it on game nights soon, it’s going to be a brutal year for the Gamecocks.

Auburn comes into town on Saturday.  Despite all the negativity above, it’s an excellent chance to get this season back on track.  Let’s hope the team seizes it.

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About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
This entry was posted in 2012-13 Basketball, Mississippi State, What Happened and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Well damnit. Gamecocks lose to State, 54-52.

  1. Pingback: Better Know An Opponent: Mississippi State (redux) |

  2. Pingback: Better Know Mississippi State (yet again) |

  3. Pingback: The Departed |

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