Brenton Williams drops 38, Gamecocks win final home game over State 79-72

On what was supposed to be a night where the focus was on Lakeem Jackson, Brenton Williams stole the show, scoring 38 points while using 38 percent of our possessions in 31 minutes, and the Gamecocks turned over State just enough to hold off a late rally and win 79-72 in their final home game of the season.

In a game that was even for the first half, the second half broke itself into two incredibly divergent units – the Gamecocks outscored State 29-12 to start the second half and jump out to a 19-point lead, before the Bulldogs rallied with a 14-0 run of their own to make things interesting late.

With the win and the Auburn loss, the Gamecocks are assured of finding themselves playing either State or Auburn in the first round of the SEC tournament as either the 12th or 13th seed, as both those teams are one game behind USC with one to play and face each other in the final regular season game, ensuring that one will end the season with at least four wins (our current number), but also ensuring that both can’t catch us.

Team

USC MSU
eFG 55.4 58.5
TO% 18.7 28.8
Oreb% 29.6 31.0
FTR 76.1 59.6
Pace 69

The final numbers belie just how dominant South Carolina was in the turnover department for most of this game.  Coming into the match-up, we knew the Gamecocks could likely force State into turnovers, but there was no clear indication that they could stop from turning the ball over themselves.  For the first 33 minutes of the game, State’s turnover percentage stayed in the 30s while the Gamecocks’ sat under 15, and it was the slow convergence of those two numbers down the stretch that let the Bulldogs hang around.  In the end, the lead was simply too great, the time was simply too short, and Carolina had its fourth SEC victory.

Unfortunately, this game doesn’t give me too much hope going forward, and not just because it came against State.  Against this anemic an offense, it’s disappointing that we still conceded over one point per possession (1.04).  Even more distressing, if you look at State’s effective possessions (those not ending in a turnover), we gave up 1.469 ppp, which will get you killed in any game against even half-decent opposition.

That came from the fact we simply couldn’t stop the Bulldogs from scoring inside (the 63% hit rate from 2P is unconscionable), and distressingly couldn’t keep them off the boards or stop from fouling.  The steals were of course helpful, but the problems this team has had all year haven’t gone away, and aren’t going away.

On the offensive side of the ball, Carolina won the game in large part by protecting the basketball and stroking it from outside, going 9-22 (41%) from 3PA and taking almost half their FGAs from beyond the arc.  The other place that Carolina got its work done was at the free throw line, where its 35 FTAs and its 80 percent rate were what both grew and iced the lead.

One thing that shocked me was that Mississippi State, who has one of the worst defensive rebounding rates in the nation, held us to less than 30 percent in our offensive rebounding percentage.  Offensive rebounds have become more and more scarce as the season has gone along, and I’m not sure if it’s from the step-up in competition or Martin de-emphasizing them so the team can get back on defense.  That would certainly explain why our defensive efficiency has ticked up while our offensive efficiency has slowly ticked downward as SEC play has gone on.

Individual

Mississippi St.
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Craig Sword
33
31
20
5-5
2-4
4-9
0
2
3
5
Fred Thomas
26
21
8
1-4
2-6
0-0
0
2
4
1
Gavin Ware
24
14
6
2-2
0-0
2-5
2
3
0
1
Colin Borchert
22
24
7
2-4
1-3
0-0
1
1
1
3
Trivante Bloodman
17
21
2
0-0
0-1
2-2
2
1
4
3
Roquez Johnson
33
22
12
3-4
0-0
6-9
1
2
0
5
Jalen Steele
25
30
17
4-8
2-5
3-3
2
2
0
1
Tyson Cunningham
19
5
0
0-0
0-1
0-0
1
5
2
0
Baxter Price
1
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Team
0
1
1
TOTAL
200
72
17-27
7-20
17-28
9
19
14
20
1.04
63.0%
35.0%
60.7%
31.0%
70.4%
58.3%
29.0%
South Carolina
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Bruce Ellington
33
23
9
0-2
1-3
6-9
0
1
6
4
Lakeem Jackson
33
14
9
4-6
0-0
1-2
3
5
1
1
Brian Steele
15
25
6
0-1
2-5
0-0
1
1
2
1
Michael Carrera
14
13
4
1-2
0-0
2-2
1
2
1
0
Shane Phillips
3
2
1-1
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Brenton Williams
31
38
38
4-8
6-9
12-12
1
3
3
1
Eric Smith
24
22
6
0-2
0-2
6-8
0
2
3
2
Mindaugas Kacinas
22
5
1
0-0
0-0
1-2
0
3
0
1
Damien Leonard
11
29
2
1-1
0-3
0-0
0
1
2
2
RJ Slawson
8
2
1-1
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Laimonas Chatkevicius
5
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
1
0
1
Brian Richardson
1
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Team
2
1
0
TOTAL
200
79
12-24
9-22
28-35
8
20
18
13
1.14
50.0%
40.9%
80.0%
29.6%
69.0%
85.7%
18.8%

You don’t need the sheet above to know that Brenton Williams was the story of the evening, filling it up from everywhere he shot (50 percent or better from 2P, 3P, and FT).  Coupled with only one turnover and three assists, it was as good a game as Brenton has played all year, and hopefully gives him something to build upon going into our final few games.

Elsewhere, Bruce’s four turnovers were costly as they helped the Bulldogs get back into the game as it went along – he’s remaining “good enough” on offense, but he needs to bring more overall if he’s going to make that an impactful position.  Our friends at Rubber Chickens suggested in their recent podcast that Bruce may not be back next year, and if Tyrone Johnson ends up being as good as people are making him sound, that might not be as bad a thing as it’ll be made out to be in the mainstream press.

Lakeem had a fine night on senior night, going 4-6 from the field while grabbing eight rebounds (three offensive) with an assist to go with only one turnover.  He was the Lakeem we’ve come to know – someone who’ll use between 15-20 percent of our possessions effectively and play good defense, but is going to need help from the other guys.  He’s an outstanding role player on a team that never gave him the rest of the pieces he needed to be really successful, but he (much like Malik Cooke) gave us a lot in his time here.

Michael Carrera had another strong game in minutes that were limited due to foul trouble, though using far fewer possessions than he normally does (that said, Brenton was on fire last night and when he was on the court, he took up about double the possessions than you’d normally expect).  I found a great stat yesterday that I wanted to pass along about Carrera:

What a beast.

For State, we never did a great job of stopping them on the inside, as everyone but Fred Thomas hit 50 percent or better on the interior.  Fortunately for us, we forced four of their guys into three or more turnovers.  That was really the difference – as we noted above, when State didn’t turn the ball over, they killed us.  Luckily for us, they threw it away just enough to get us the victory.

Up Next

The Gamecocks finish SEC play at an improving Vanderbilt on Saturday before heading back to (or staying in) Nashville for the SEC tournament, which will begin for Carolina on Wednesday at 6:30pm on the SEC Network, as either the 12 or 13 seed playing either Auburn or Mississippi State.  I’m not sure how the previews/reviews will work for the tournament, but hopefully we’ll win a couple of games and make me work next week.

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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.

4 Responses to Brenton Williams drops 38, Gamecocks win final home game over State 79-72

  1. Gary says:

    I thank God for this win, primarily for the sake of Lakeem and Shane to win on Senior Day, and close their USC careers at home with a win. I have been saying that Brenton can score the ball for a long time. I have hoped that Frank would play him more than he has because Brenton is our best scorer and we need what he brings to the games. I am very happy for him and thankful that Frank gave him minutes to produce. I hope this continues.

    I wish that the teams could have done better the last three years. Lakeem deserves more than what his teams have achieved during his career, and I’m disappointed about that. Best wishes to Lakeem and Shane in their lives.

  2. Walter says:

    Carrera is most definitely a diamond in the rough. Don’t know how many cracks he slipped through on his way to us, but that guy is tough and motivated way beyond the average player. I am certain he would have gotten minutes as a freshman on practically any Major Div 1 team. For one thing, the guy can shoot the basketball pretty well but his motor and his determination are almost supernatural and he is always “in the game” (despite what Martin says about him wandering around not knowing what to do sometimes – I’ve never seen that) moving with purpose – setting picks, boxing out, breaking to the basket, etc. On top of all that, he is a fearless leader even as a freshman. I can’t wait to see how good he is going to be before he’s through here. I’d hate to think how much more dreadful this season would have been without him.

  3. Walter says:

    Also want to say thanks to chickenhoops. Great information and analysis! You’re helping my understanding of the game.

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

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