Gamecocks learn relevance of shooting in basketball, lose to Vandy 58-51

There’s not a lot to say about this game, frankly, other than if you shoot a 27% eFG% from the field, and you only lose by seven points, it means you played pretty well otherwise.  And that’s the story – the Gamecocks outplayed Vanderbilt generally speaking, but just couldn’t make buckets.  Some of that has to do with Vandy’s defense, some of it has to do with our team, but most of it has to do with variance, pure and simple.  There’s no reason to think Carolina will shoot this poorly going forward, so there’s no reason to overreact to this outing.  Unfortunately, it represents another missed opportunity for Carolina in conference play, which is the issue that comes with playing close games – you’re not much better than 50/50 to win them, by and large, and so if you’re playing a lot of close games with bad teams, it means you’re going to lose your share of games to them.

Four Factors USC Vandy
eFG 27.1 51.4
TO% 10.7 27.6
Oreb% 26.1 22.2
FTR 42.4 89.2
Possessions 65

Carolina did a marvelous job in avoiding turnovers on the day, their best outing on this front all season.  I’m not sure where the change has come from, but it’s hard to see how it’s not going to make our offense better overall, unless you passionately believe the reason we shot so poorly on the evening was because we were avoiding making risky passes that used to lead to our easy baskets.  I don’t buy that, but it’s the only argument that would make sense to me.

The story was the same on the other side of the ball as well – the Gamecocks just missed out on posting their best defensive TO% (by 0.2 percentage points).  Fascinatingly, Carolina has now posted its three best defensive TO games in the last three games, against teams that – while not great stewards of the basketball – you wouldn’t expect to see us just shoot up the charts against otherwise.  A lot of this appears to be based around two things: (1) our new full-court pressure defense, which has led to quite a few turnovers; but more importantly (2) our guys being confident in pressing the ball aggressively, and being able to do so without losing position and giving up easy baskets as players blow by them.  It’s the defense I expected to see when Martin arrived, and I’m happy to see the players growing into the system as the season moves along.

Vanderbilt
Name
Min
Poss%
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Dai-Jon Parker
31
29
11
1-5
1-2
6-7
0
5
3
5
Rod Odom
30
12
8
1-1
1-2
3-4
1
3
1
1
Sheldon Jeter
23
19
8
3-3
0-1
2-5
2
4
1
1
Kedren Johnson
23
32
3
0-3
0-3
3-4
1
7
4
4
Shelby Moats
14
21
3
1-2
0-0
1-2
0
0
1
2
Kevin Bright
30
12
8
1-1
2-3
0-1
1
6
3
1
Kyle Fuller
28
22
12
1-3
2-2
4-8
0
5
2
2
Josh Henderson
21
23
5
2-6
0-0
1-2
1
2
0
2
Team
0
2
0
TOTAL
200
58
10-24
6-13
20-33
6
34
15
18
0.89
41.7%
46.2%
60.6%
22%
74%
94%
28%
South Carolina
Name
Min
Poss%
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Bruce Ellington
34
23
7
2-8
0-5
3-4
1
3
2
1
Lakeem Jackson
33
14
6
2-6
0-0
2-4
5
5
1
0
Eric Smith
28
11
5
1-3
0-2
3-3
0
1
0
0
Michael Carrera
27
24
8
3-9
0-0
2-3
2
7
0
2
Laimonas Chatkevicius
7
2
0-1
0-1
2-2
0
0
0
0
Brenton Williams
25
30
16
0-3
3-7
7-8
0
2
2
1
Brian Richardson
20
26
7
2-4
1-4
0-1
3
0
1
1
RJ Slawson
16
16
0
0-2
0-1
0-0
0
2
1
2
Damien Leonard
6
0
0-1
0-1
0-0
0
0
0
0
Mindaugas Kacinas
4
0
0-1
0-0
0-0
0
1
0
0
Team
1
0
0
TOTAL
200
51
10-38
4-21
19-25
12
21
7
7
0.78
26.3%
19.0%
76.0%
26.1%
77.8%
50.0%
10.8%

The thing I’d be most concerned about from above was our inability to do anything on the interior for almost the entirety of the game.  While the Gamecocks avoided turning the ball over, they were simply unable to move the ball around so as to give themselves open looks inside.  A lot of the reason that Vanderbilt gives up a lot of 3PAs is because they refuse to give up easy shots inside, which is somewhat by design and somewhat by skill – their interior defenders simply dominate our guys on that end of the court, both in preventing 2PAs and in keeping us off the glass.  The 26% OReb% is the second-lowest rate posted all year by the Gamecocks (I’d tell you more about the first, but it was Missouri State, one of the three games we’ve played this year that was impossible to witness unless you traveled with the program).

Brenton Williams came the closest to having what could be called a good offensive game.  While he wasn’t able to make a 2PA, he did get eight FTAs (and buried seven of them), which kept Carolina scoring even when they weren’t making shots from the field.  Lakeem Jackson also contributed by shooting relatively efficiently (at least, relative to the rest of the team), but also grabbing five offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive, something the Gamecocks struggled to do more often than is common.  While his ability to avoid turnovers was appreciated, Bruce’s 2-13 effort (which included a number of ill-advised 15-footers) stung.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard for this analysis not to be colored by one’s expectations. Simply, mine aren’t that high – I’m not fooling myself into thinking we have a team that’s so good it can’t lose this game (or, frankly, any game on the schedule).  But they improved in some areas and continued to grow.  I know Coach Martin said he was disappointed to hear fans expect something other than results from these guys, but right now, I just can’t bring myself to expect results.

Speaking of not expecting results, the Gamecocks head on the road to face off against the Missouri Tigers tomorrow night in a game that will be their most difficult thus far of the season.  While Missouri’s having a few issues today on the NCAA front, they’ll still put the best team we’ve faced all year on the court, and our guys will need to come to play if they expect to hang around on the evening.  Martin knows Mizzou well from his time in the Big XII, and I’m interested to see if the Gamecocks can build on a recent road success in Baton Rouge.  It’ll be worth tuning in.

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About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
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3 Responses to Gamecocks learn relevance of shooting in basketball, lose to Vandy 58-51

  1. Pingback: Better Know An Opponent: Missouri |

  2. Pingback: Gamecocks out-shoot Arkansas, 75-54 |

  3. Pingback: Gamecocks outplay Georgia, but Bulldogs outshoot Carolina, and prevail 67-56 |

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