Gamecocks (and CBS) falter down the stretch, lose to Georgia 62-54 in OT

The Gamecocks dropped a game that I would’ve found utterly comical had they not been involved in it, with a disheartening 62-54 overtime loss in Athens to finish off being swept by the Georgia Bulldogs in regular season SEC play.

It was a game marred by the participants themselves, though CBS (who cut away from the final minute to begin pre-game coverage of the Georgetown-Syracuse game), the referees, and the official timekeeper all added to the cacophony of errors at the end of this otherwise unentertaining and uninspiring game that had a myriad of people on Twitter asking why the hell they were being subjected to this match-up (the best guess being that the SEC TV contract requires some basketball on CBS for them to get the top choice for football).

That nonsense aside, it was a game where the Gamecocks played better than they had during their miserable mid-conference stretch of six consecutive SEC losses, but in the end they couldn’t create enough offense at the end (from the line or otherwise) and couldn’t pick up KCP on a crucial late three-pointer, and the result was yet another disheartening loss.

Team

Four Factors USC UGA
eFG 35.0 35.4
TO% 23.1 23.1
Oreb% 37.0 45.0
FTR 40.0 95.8
Pace 61

As always, use our explanations page for what this all means.

It’s not hard to find the culprit for what ailed Carolina on this particular Saturday afternoon.  The Gamecocks haven’t been able to stop teams all year without fouling them, posting an FTR of 45 percent overall (326th in the NCAA) and 50 percent in conference play (last in the SEC).  And in came the Georgia Bulldogs, who offensively create an FTR of 44.3 percent in all games (19th in the nation, and that included some pretty good non-conference opponents), which has risen to 48.5 percent in conference play (good for best in the SEC).  Georgia came in with one real match-up advantage, and it’s the one they pressed to achieve victory.

Fouls took what would’ve already been an ugly game and just added an emphasis to its hideousness – one of the reasons the game was cut off was because it took so long to play, which foul shots typically cause.  Neither team could make a bucket to save their lives, and the opening ten minutes passed with Georgia only leading 7-4 as the clock hit single digits in the first half.

Foul shooting was also one of the areas that Carolina will rue when it looks back on this performance.  The Gamecocks went 11-20 in regulation, where any extra make could have easily pushed them across the finish line as winners (of course, the Bulldogs will note their 24-40 performance left them with quite a few opportunities to seal the deal themselves).

In the other areas, I was both surprised and disappointed to see the Gamecocks unable to press a turnover advantage, as the Georgia press created a few additional opportunities for the Bulldogs as the game wore on.  The shooting woes on offense, while continually frustrating, were offset somewhat by Carolina’s ability to stop the Bulldogs from making shots inside, though at least part of that was from “defense” that involved simply shipping them to the foul line.  Still, Georgia’s 34 percent rate from within the arc was the lowest the Gamecocks have forced all season, and the first time they’ve even managed to hold an opponent under 40 percent since Appalachian State on December 19.

Individual

South Carolina
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Bruce Ellington
42
17
11
1-6
3-9
0-0
0
1
3
0
Eric Smith
38
18
3
0-6
0-1
3-6
3
2
2
3
Laimonas Chatkevicius
33
21
3
1-7
0-1
1-2
3
7
0
4
Lakeem Jackson
27
24
9
4-8
0-0
1-2
0
2
0
3
Michael Carrera
19
25
5
1-5
0-0
3-5
3
3
2
1
Brian Richardson
25
12
8
1-2
2-4
0-0
0
2
0
0
Brenton Williams
15
34
9
2-4
1-3
2-3
2
0
1
1
RJ Slawson
14
13
1
0-0
0-0
1-4
0
1
0
1
Mindaugas Kacinas
12
23
5
2-3
0-1
1-2
2
3
0
0
Team
4
1
3
TOTAL
225
54
12-41
6-19
12-24
17
22
8
16
0.78
29.3%
31.6%
50.0%
37.0%
55.0%
44.4%
23.2%
Georgia
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
37
26
18
2-4
2-8
8-13
0
8
4
1
Donte’ Williams
30
16
5
1-4
0-0
3-5
3
6
0
2
Brandon Morris
23
20
3
0-3
0-0
3-7
5
6
2
1
Vincent Williams
15
18
3
0-4
1-1
0-0
1
1
0
1
John Florveus
14
27
3
1-1
0-0
1-2
0
1
0
4
Nemanja Djurisic
32
19
11
2-3
1-2
4-4
5
1
1
3
Charles Mann
28
30
14
3-5
0-0
8-13
1
1
2
3
Sherrard Brantley
21
11
0
0-2
0-5
0-0
0
2
0
0
Tim Dixon
15
21
5
2-4
0-0
1-2
1
2
0
1
Kenny Gaines
7
0
0-1
0-0
0-0
0
1
0
0
John Cannon
3
0
0-1
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Taylor Echols
0
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Team
2
0
0
TOTAL
225
62
11-32
4-16
28-46
18
29
9
16
0.9
34.4%
25.0%
60.9%
45.0%
63.0%
60.0%
23.2%

If you’re surprised the story of the afternoon for Georgia was Caldwell-Pope, you haven’t followed the SEC much this year.  He played 37 minutes, used 26 percent of their possessions, and threw up 18 points along with four assists and only one turnover (which he more than atoned for by grabbing four steals on the other end).  We didn’t stop him as much as we’d have wanted to, but limiting him to 4-12 from the field has to be seen as a type of success.  You know KCP is going to get his when you play Georgia – you just have to limit the damage and slow down his teammates.  Overall, we did a decent enough job of both.

A couple of other Georgia players notably used over twenty percent of their possessions did so with wildly disparate results.  Freshman Charles Mann did what he does best by getting to the line 13 times in 28 minutes of play, while also adding a 3-5 shooting afternoon (only slightly marred by his three turnovers).  On the other hand,  center John Florveus ended four of his six possessions with turnovers, and ended up with only three points in his 14 unproductive minutes.

The other Bulldog who it could best be said wounded us on our defensive end were Nemanja Djurisic, the frequent-shooting sophomore forward who limited his shooting a bit in this game, but made the ones he took, going 3-5 from the field and 4-4 from the line to throw up 11 points.

For Carolina, Ellington played one of his best offensive games of the year in a losing effort.  Over the last five games, Bruce has steadily declined his own usage rate, not topping 23 percent in any of those games (though much of this comes from never committing over two turnovers in a single game – he had none on Saturday).  While it hasn’t directly been reflected in his efficiency, Bruce using fewer possessions is a net win for our offense, especially if he can pair them with assists, one area he has shown improvement of late – he’s had two or more in each of the last five outings.  While his shooting still needs to improve (he went 4-15 against the Bulldogs), given his minutes, this was still improvement on the whole from Ellington.

On the other hand, Eric Smith had one of his worst games of the year, and will spend at least some part of this week frustrated by his inability to make a late-game free throw, which was matched by his inability to make a single shot from the floor, going 0-7 from the field and only 3-6 from the line, with three turnovers on just two assists.  His three steals on the defensive end helped, but we didn’t get enough production from his 38 minutes on the court.

On the wing, Brian Richardson and Brenton Williams (who fouled out because, and I love what he does offensively, Brenton struggles to play defense aside from drawing charges), combined for 40 minutes of efficient action.  Richardson especially came to play, going 3-6 from the field with two big threes and not committing any turnovers.  Williams kicked in a 3-7 effort from the field with a 2-3 mark from the line.  In total, we got 17 points from the wing in their 40 minutes, or just over 30 percent of our points on the afternoon in less than 18 percent of the minutes.  We need to get these guys playing enough defense to justify keeping them on the floor, because our 0.78 points per possession would’ve been even uglier without them.

In the post, Chatkevicius took a big step back by going 1-7 from inside and adding a missed three-ball to contribute just three points in 33 minutes, along with four turnovers, including a particularly damaging one late (I know we couldn’t abdicate the post, but given his 28.8 percent turnover rate and 56.7 percent FT%, I can’t understand why he was in the game at the end).  He’s made strides in recent weeks, but Saturday was not one of his better outings.

Meanwhile, his compatriot Kacinas saw action after playing just 20 minutes in the past four games – including a DNP against Ole Miss – getting twelve minutes and going 2-4 from the field for 5 points along with five rebounds (two offensive) and no turnovers.

The rest of our post players played OK, but seemed to have some sort of fatal flaw – Jackson and Carrera both fouled out, with Jackson’s 4-8 shooting marred by three turnovers, and Carrera’s one turnover marred by 1-5 shooting (though he went 3-5 from the line).  And Slawson, who didn’t even attempt an official field goal, was betrayed by his inability to make free throws, going 1-4 to go along with only one defensive rebound and a turnover in 13 minutes.

That’s the story for nine members of our ten man rotation.  The tenth, Damien Leonard, recorded a DNP – Coach’s Decision.  After a mid-season stretch where he played 29, 38, and 33 minutes against the heart of our SEC schedule, Leonard has quickly fallen from favor, playing only six minutes against Alabama, and not seeing the court at all in our last two outings.

Also

I have no idea what happened with the timekeeper at the end of the game, and if you do and could leave a note in the comments or find me via e-mail, I’d appreciate a further understanding.  I know the clock is a correctable error at the end of the game, but what I still don’t understand is why we got the ball back, and why we didn’t get the run of the baseline.

You see clock errors corrected all the time, but what made this unique is that it came at the end of the game, so the game couldn’t just naturally pick up where it left off.  Frankly, as much as people keep saying we got screwed (and I’m not going to argue it hurt our chances), can you imagine how UGA would’ve reacted if we’d made our second attempt?  Or how we would’ve reacted if we’d made the first but then UGA got the ball?

It wasn’t a clock error that seemed designed to help one team over the other in the end.  And, it happens.  Still, ugly ugly way to end an ugly, ugly game.

Up Next

The Gamecocks welcome the Missouri Tigers to town on Thursday evening for a game that will be seen somewhere on the ESPN family of networks.  The Gamecocks gave the Tigers fits out in their version of Columbia earlier this season, but couldn’t come out with a win thanks to a last-second three-pointer by Jabari Brown.  They played that game without Laurence Bowers, who has since returned to his formidable playing ways as Missouri has risen up to nearly clinch a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Of course ,we’re only a few days removed from an SEC team entering the Colonial Life Arena with NCAA dreams dancing in their heads, and the Gamecocks put a big dent in those Ole Miss dreams last week (Marshall Henderson returned the favor by putting a few dents in the Colonial Life Arena).

But this is a much better Missouri team than we saw earlier this year, with Bowers back and a high unlikelihood that they’ll shoot under 20 percent from three-point land again.  The Gamecocks will have their work cut out for them, but it’s another opportunity to continue improving our play as we play out the string this year, with the hopes of building toward either an entirely unexpected SEC tournament run or simply building the foundation for better years ahead.

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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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One Response to Gamecocks (and CBS) falter down the stretch, lose to Georgia 62-54 in OT

  1. Gary says:

    Another case of not enough talent by USC. One more made FT in regulation might have won that game, but somehow, we couldn’t get it through the hoop. Both Ellington and Smith are playing far too many minutes than their skills would justify. I agree that Williams and BRich have to play more, even if their defense is not up to Frank’s standards. Eric and Bruce are liabilities on the offensive end. We have a much better chance to score with Brenton and BRich in the game.

    The refs in that game were clowns. Had any of the three been awake, they would have called goaltending on the USC shot in which there were two goaltending violations. But apparently the refs had their minds elsewhere. Or, maybe they just didn’t want to call it. The FT difference between the two teams was glaring, and I don’t believe it was because USC was that much more physical. The clock incident at the end of regulation was another example of their incompetence.

    I will be surprised if USC is able to compete well with Missouri. The incompetence USC has demonstrated this season will probably continue. I see no reason to believe that what we saw on Saturday will be cured by Thursday. But, miracles do sometimes happen.

    I think you can get an idea of what Frank Martin thinks of this team by the fact that he sent Coach Figger to do the post-game interview with the Gamecock Radio Network as Martin had to rush off on a recruiting trip. USC is trying to bring in some new players in the spring, which means that they would like to replace some of the current roster.

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