The Gamecocks defeated PC tonight by a score of 75-56. The Blue Hose deserve credit for coming into Colonial Life Arena and playing Carolina tough, but in the end our superior depth, size, and athleticism combined with cold shooting spells for the Blue Hose helped us pull away. PC did well to force us to slow down and play a halfcourt-style game, but they faltered at times because their most effective offensive weapon, forward Al'lonzo Coleman, had to spend a lot of time on the bench due to foul trouble. He eventually fouled out with about five minutes left, and we promptly pulled away. Without Coleman in the game, PC fell back on the long ball, but their 26% shooting percentage from behind the arc prohibited them from keeping up. The Gamecocks, on the other hand, relied on Domique Archie and Mike Holmes to score points in the paint. Both had 19 points. Devan Downey and Zam Frederick also scored in double digits.
In general, we played a fairly solid game today. We should have tried to get the big guys the ball more often against The Citadel, but today we got them the ball early and often. This strategy played to our size advantage against the smaller lineup used by the Blue Hose, and the results speak for themselves. The number of open threes that Presby took made me think we could play a little tighter on defense, but on the other hand we were able to force a handful of turnovers that led to easy baskets, so the defensive effort deserves credit for that. I should note that PC, while only a few years removed from Division II, is not a bad team. They took UGA down to the wire and appear to be ready for an improved season in the Big South. This victory may not say a whole lot about the Gamecocks, but it's nothing to scoff at, either.
The Gamecocks now stand at 9-1 with two huge games on deck. Clemson comes to town on Sunday and the Gamecocks travel to Baylor on the second of January. Both the Tigers and the Bears are ranked and will be favored. Winning at least one of these games (preferably the Clemson game) will go a long way towards proving that this team is capable of playing at a high level in the SEC. Moreover, we currently have a low RPI due to the poor quality of the competition we've played, and wins in a weak SEC probably won't raise our RPI significantly. A victory against Clemson or Baylor, though, would be very good for our RPI, so coming out of these two games with at least one win could go a long way towards getting us into the NCAA tourney if we end up on the bubble at the end of the season. On the other hand, if we lose both games and end up splitting our SEC games, we'll likely be heading for another NIT berth. That wouldn't be too bad considering that this is Darrin Horn's first year, but I'm sure all of us would prefer a return to the NCAAs. We have the team to do it, but we need to pull out some wins against quality competition.