“Different day, same book,” Gamecocks fall 66-61

Another incredibly frustrating afternoon ended with the Gamecocks coming up just short in an SEC game, losing 66-61 to the Tennessee Volunteers.  The Gamecocks struggled to contain a major post player on the inside for a majority of the game, and couldn’t find enough weapons on offense to get themselves over the hump.

In a lot of ways, Carolina outplayed expectations to some extent – they were far better on making two-point baskets than they have been since the Arkansas game, hitting 49 percent of those shots.  But it was just not enough, and Carolina now seems assured of finishing no higher than 11th in the SEC regular season, meaning they will get to play in the mess that is the “opening round” of this year’s newly-designed SEC tournament.

Team

Statistics courtesy of KenPom.com

USC UT
eFG 42.2 47.6
TO% 19.9 27.6
Oreb% 35.3 35.7
FTR 49.0 90.2
Pace 65

For most of this game, the Gamecocks and the Volunteers were dead even on eFG and OReb, and basically trading off TO% against FTR – that is, the Gamecocks were winning the turnover battle at a high-enough rate to compensate for allowing Tennessee so many chances at the line.

But in the last five minutes or so, the numbers diverged just enough.  Instead of forcing a turnover, Carolina gave Skylar McBee a wide-open look in the corner that he buried.  And instead of running our offense to get a couple of good shots, both Bruce Ellington and Brian Richardson took ill-advised three-pointers that never had much of a chance to go in, and the Volunteers had what they needed to walk away with a victory.

Overall, it wasn’t terribly surprising to see the game play out this way – we knew from our preview that the Volunteers would get to the foul line a ton, and that the Gamecocks greatest advantage would be the ability to win the turnover battle, something they’ve done far more of as the season has gone along.  The Gamecocks shot well enough from 2P to hang around, but couldn’t out-shoot the Vols from elsewhere – or do well enough on the boards or in turnovers – to get the extra shots they needed to come away with a win.

It was a complete team effort in that respect.  Carolina scored 0.94 points/possession and conceded 1.02.  Neither of those numbers is too far off the SEC’s conference-game average of 0.987, and so it just came down to Carolina not being able to do just a little bit more on either end of the floor to get the win.

Individual

Tennessee
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Jarnell Stokes
35
37
20
6-9
0-0
8-13
5
5
2
6
Jordan McRae
35
13
7
0-4
1-3
4-4
0
4
1
1
Josh Richardson
33
16
7
1-2
0-2
5-6
1
4
5
2
Kenny Hall
11
21
2
1-2
0-0
0-0
1
1
0
2
Armani Moore
8
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
1
0
2
Skylar McBee
27
15
8
1-1
2-6
0-0
0
0
1
1
Trae Golden
27
29
16
4-6
0-2
8-10
0
1
1
2
Quinton Chievous
11
23
4
2-2
0-0
0-0
1
0
0
2
D’Montre Edwards
6
0
0-0
0-0
0-2
0
3
0
0
Yemi Makanjuola
4
2
0-1
0-0
2-2
1
0
0
0
Derek Reese
3
0
0-0
0-1
0-0
0
1
0
0
Team
1
2
0
TOTAL
200
66
15-27
3-14
27-37
10
22
10
18
1.02
55.6%
21.4%
73.0%
35.7%
64.7%
55.6%
27.7%
South Carolina
Name
Min
%Poss
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Damien Leonard
38
10
4
1-2
0-4
2-2
0
2
1
1
Bruce Ellington
36
20
6
1-8
0-1
4-6
0
2
5
2
Michael Carrera
29
33
18
6-8
0-1
6-9
2
9
0
4
Brian Richardson
25
38
17
4-8
2-7
3-5
1
4
0
2
Lakeem Jackson
24
12
3
1-4
0-0
1-1
2
1
0
1
Eric Smith
21
15
9
2-3
1-2
2-2
0
0
1
0
RJ Slawson
18
10
4
2-2
0-0
0-0
1
0
0
1
Mindaugas Kacinas
9
0
0-0
0-1
0-0
1
0
1
2
Team
5
0
0
TOTAL
200
61
17-35
3-16
18-25
12
18
8
13
0.94
48.6%
18.8%
72.0%
35.3%
64.3%
40.0%
20.0%

As Tennessee’s coach Martin noted after the game, Trae Golden returned for the Volunteers in the nick of time, and his ability to score while avoiding turnovers, probably settled the game.  Most critically, he had two turnovers in 27 minutes, as compared to his replacement Armani Moore, who also had two turnovers, but in only 8 minutes.  Moore got the start, but the Volunteers clearly knew they’d have to have Golden to win the game, and he delivered.

Of course, the other major story for Tennessee was the play of Jarnell Stokes.  Interestingly, Stokes wasn’t the beast people were making him out to be by the end of the game, when you look at how much Carolina improved at causing him problems – he ended the game with six turnovers, which significantly impacted how efficient he could be considered.  That said, he was still quite efficient for a man bearing the weight of 37 percent of the possessions he played.  I think Tennessee probably wishes they hadn’t gone to the well quite as often as it did, but it worked out fine for them in the end.

On our side, the story of the game was Michael Carrera, although much like Stokes, his four turnovers took some of the shine off his performance.  That said, again like Stokes, when you’re using one-third of the possessions you play, posting 18 points on that kind of shooting should be good enough to let the rest of your teammates contribute even more effectively, since they’re all the more able to pick their spots.  Two examples of that were guys who did a lot with their limited possessions – Eric Smith (3-4 from the field with two more points from the line, with one assist and no turnovers) and RJ Slawson (2-2 from the field and only one turnover).

Brian Richardson also took up a ton of possessions, and did a nice job of once again showing his game has the versatility to go inside and outside.  Given his number of touches, it’s hard to be too upset with him for his two turnovers, and he made solid defensive contributions with four rebounds on that end to go along with his two steals.

It was another tough day for Bruce.  His 1-9 shooting submarined what would have otherwise been a fine enough offensive day, given his five assists (against only two turnovers).  Damien Leonard wasn’t much better, going 1-6 from the field and only contributing one assist (against one turnover).

Frank Martin sarcastically responded to a question about whether or not he should’ve played Brenton Williams by asking the writer “would you have played him?”  I’m not saying the trade-off of offense for defense that would’ve come with substituting Williams for Leonard would’ve been a net positive for the team – Brenton hasn’t played very well offensively for a couple of weeks – but I also don’t think the answer to that question was a slam dunk, given that Leonard hasn’t had a great offensive game since his outing against Auburn on January 12.

Chatkevicius also didn’t get a minute this game, as Martin played the smallest rotation of players he has since injuries forced us into 7- and 8-man rotations earlier in the non-conference schedule.  Perhaps this starts to inform a question we asked last week on this blog – is attrition coming to Columbia?

Up Next

Carolina gets an extra day to lick it wounds before the Louisiana State Tigers come to town on Valentines Day.  The Gamecocks clipped the Tigers down in Baton Rouge earlier this season (back when we briefly learned how to win SEC games), and it’ll be their best remaining change for a home victory until the season finale against Mississippi State in March.

We talked about trying to avoid the play-in games earlier, and if that’s going to have any possibility of happening, LSU becomes a must-win game for Carolina, as they are now two games back of that spot with a 2-8 record, with plenty of challenging match-ups ahead.

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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, tennessee, What Happened and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Different day, same book,” Gamecocks fall 66-61

  1. Gary says:

    This is not the same team as earlier in the season. It appears that Florida’s raping of USC destroyed what little confidence the team had after beating Arkansas. Lakeem Jackson has been unproductive since Arkansas. He looks to me to have lost interest. And I can’t blame him. I’ve lost interest too. Lakeem has to be discouraged to see his senior season go the way this one has, especially after the previous two seasons were so disappointing. I only hope he doesn’t blame himself. It isn’t Lakeem’s fault that Harris and Gill left, or that Page flunked out. If this team had those three, this season might have been one that Lakeem would fondly remember. I really like Lakeem Jackson, and I wish the teams he played on could have been more successful. Best wishes to him in the future.

    Given Leonards offensive impotence, I am a little surprised that he played so many minutes yesterday, and that neither Brenton Williams nor Laimonas got any time. I can only speculate as to why Martin chose not to play them. Coach didn’t want to talk about that at his post-game presser. Leonard’s shooting woes have continued under the new coaching staff, though some other aspects of his game have improved. But realisticly, if Leonard can’t make shots, and he rarely can, then USC does not need him. He would be one that I would expect to be recruited over in the spring, provided our staff can find a suitable replacement.

    Barring a turnaround in the attitude and confidence of the team, I expect USC to finish dead last in the SEC regular season standings. They might not win again this season. Hope I am wrong. But, I think Martin is too much of a competitor to take the chance that the current players are going to dramatically improve by next season, which means that he is going to try to replace some of the current non-seniors with sping signees. Hope he can because I don’t want anything close to a replay of this season next year.

  2. Pingback: The Departed |

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