Missouri dominates inside, but sinks Gamecocks with outside 3-pointer to win 71-65

The Gamecocks played one of their best games of the season against a Missouri team dealing with distractions and injuries, but in the end, they finally ran out of luck as, after denying the ball to point guard Phil Pressey on the final possession, Earnest Ross found Jabari Brown in the corner for a wide-open three-pointer.  The Gamecocks spent a lot of the evening riding Missouri’s unfortunate outside shooting, but in the end Carolina couldn’t do enough on the interior.

Four Factors USC MIZ
eFG 41.5 37.7
TO% 18.4 18.4
Oreb% 36.4 37.2
FTR 26.1 63.2
Possessions 71

The story of this game was pretty simple, when it gets right down to it – the Gamecocks simply couldn’t stop Missouri on the inside.  After a very slow start in the first half, Missouri ended the evening hitting 47% of their 2PAs and rebounding 37% of their misses.  More damningly, that 47% only represents the shots that Missouri took where they weren’t sent to the line, as Missouri took almost 40% of its shots Tuesday night from the free throw line.  Given their ability to make those shots, they were able to keep themselves in the game long enough for their shooting to come around.

Missouri also started taking care of the ball far better in the second half, and concluded the evening scoring exactly 1.000 points per possession.  That’s still a pretty good effort from our guys on the road against this Missouri team, but a lot of it was out of our hands – the Gamecocks, either by design or circumstance, let Missouri take almost half (47.4%) of its FG attempts from beyond the arc, and had Missouri made those with any sort of regularity, this game would’ve looked a lot more like the 14-point spread predicted it might.

On the other end, Carolina gave a pretty good effort, avoiding turnovers again at a reasonable rate (18.4%) and rebounding the basketball in the way we’ve come accustomed to seeing them rebound this season.  Unfortunately for Carolina, they couldn’t really score inside, and Missouri serves as an excellent juxtaposition – the Gamecocks could only hit 40 percent of their 2PAs, and couldn’t really get to the line to make up for that lack of interior offense.

Even with good offensive rebounding and an improved job of avoiding turnovers, there simply aren’t going to be a lot of points available if you play this way unless you can really bury shots from outside.  While Carolina did a good job of getting and making some of those outside looks early in the game, they simply couldn’t keep finding and making those shots later in the game when Missouri switched away from its zone and got back into man-to-man defense.

Individual

South Carolina
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Bruce Ellington
36
22
7
3-10
0-2
1-4
3
6
3
3
Lakeem Jackson
32
17
9
2-5
1-1
2-4
3
2
3
2
Eric Smith
20
22
7
2-4
1-5
0-0
0
1
1
1
Laimonas Chatkevicius
15
23
8
2-3
0-1
4-4
1
2
1
1
Michael Carrera
15
22
4
2-5
0-0
0-0
1
3
0
2
RJ Slawson
28
15
12
5-7
0-0
2-2
4
2
0
0
Brenton Williams
27
19
16
1-5
4-6
2-2
0
5
1
0
Damien Leonard
20
31
2
1-6
0-5
0-1
2
3
0
3
Mindaugas Kacinas
4
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Brian Richardson
3
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
1
Team
2
3
0
TOTAL
200
65
18-45
6-20
11-17
16
27
9
13
0.92
.400
.300
.647
36.4%
62.8%
37.5%
18.3%
Missouri
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Jabari Brown
38
25
17
3-7
2-9
5-8
1
6
0
2
Tony Criswell
35
12
7
2-5
0-1
3-4
2
5
0
1
Phil Pressey
31
22
6
1-2
1-6
1-2
1
1
7
4
Alex Oriakhi
27
23
18
4-4
0-0
10-10
5
6
0
2
Negus Webster-Chan
19
8
0
0-0
0-2
0-0
0
0
2
1
Earnest Ross
37
32
21
4-12
2-6
7-10
4
6
1
3
Stefan Jankovic
9
2
0-0
0-3
2-2
0
2
0
0
Ryan Rosburg
4
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Team
3
2
0
TOTAL
200
71
14-30
5-27
28-36
16
28
10
13
1
.467
.185
.778
37.2%
63.6%
52.6%
18.3%

Starting with Missouri, this game was the story of their two stars most of the night, with Phil Pressey not being able to buy a bucket and Alex Oriakhi completely dominating.  Let’s start with the positive – Ellington and Smith did great work limiting Pressey to 2-8 shooting from the field, keeping him off the free throw line, and forcing four turnovers.  While he certainly found a way to impact the game (notably, his seven assists), the Gamecocks seemed committed to limiting his impact, and I’d say on the whole they did so.

The same cannot be said about containing Oriakhi, who was only contained when Carolina put his fifth foul on him.  He was ultimately the difference in the game, making every shot he took and grabbing 11 boards (5 OR / 6 DR) – the Gamecocks only stopped him twice all evening, when they forced two turnovers, but he owned the interior all night offensively.

Otherwise, the Gamecocks did a decent job defending the rest of Missouri’s weapons, though in reality they were fortunate that Jabari Brown wasn’t making 3PAs until the back-breaker at the end.  Earnest Ross also had a rather forgettable game (though he did contribute 10 rebounds).  All in all, there were positives to be found, but just not enough to complete the task.

Offensively, Bruce Ellington and Damien Leonard combined for two extremely frustrating efforts from the field, especially Bruce’s 3-10 from 2PA.   Right now, Bruce simply isn’t shooting efficiently enough to justify the number of shots he takes.  I understand it’s something foisted upon him when he’s out there without Richardson or Williams to bury outside shots, and I think Martin may need to make peace with the idea that one of those guys is going to need to be on the floor at all times to make our offense work.  I suppose the reason they’re not right now is because he thinks they limit our defense (he was clearly unhappy with at least one defensive possession from Brenton Williams), but Leonard and Ellington simply haven’t proven – either last season or this year – they can shoot well enough to each take double-digit FGAs.

After a rough start that saw him removed from the game 80 seconds in, Laimonas Chatkevicius had one of his best games all season, going 2-4 from the field, adding four free throws, and avoiding the turnover problem that has plagued him most of this season.  Brenton Williams was exceptional shooting the ball beyond the arc, though it was disappointing not to see him do a better job of getting fouled inside (or making shots).  Credit to Missouri for some of that, and still a solid job by Brenton of bringing his skillset to the fore in a big road SEC game.

RJ Slawson also quietly had one of his best nights, even though he struggled to contain Oriakhi on the other end – he went 5-7 from the field and made a pair of free throws, while adding four offensive rebounds and not turning the ball over.  Lakeem Jackson also had a nice night overall, filling up the box score in every department (and not overly doing so with turnovers).

Closing Thoughts

All in all, it was a game where the front-court really helped the Gamecocks go on one end, but ultimately were their downfall because they weren’t able to do enough to help stop Missouri on the defensive end.  A lot of people will draw a lot of false conclusions about the Gamecocks because they’re 1-4 in the SEC after having chances to win each of those games.  My thoughts are already well-known to regular readers of this blog.

Instead, my takeaway from the game is that the Gamecocks certainly showed some improvement, but the problems that were evident against Vanderbilt were still around tonight as well, and in the end, this is still mostly the same team we’ve been watching.  But it’s an improving team.  The progress on turnovers – on both sides of the ball – throughout the season has been very encouraging, and the team has completely re-made itself when it comes to offensive rebounding.

In the end, we all want results, and the Gamecocks weren’t able to grab one they had the chance to get on Tuesday night.  But, much as I felt after the Vanderbilt game, they did a lot of things right.  Keep doing those things right, and hopefully some shots will start falling when it matters for us as the season goes along.

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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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4 Responses to Missouri dominates inside, but sinks Gamecocks with outside 3-pointer to win 71-65

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  3. Pingback: Gamecocks (and CBS) falter down the stretch, lose to Georgia 62-54 in OT |

  4. Pingback: Better Know An Opponent: Missouri (redux) |

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