Yesterday, I said this team is good enough to win a game against an elite opponent at some point in the year. "At some point" ended up being last night, when Zam Fredrick hit a go-ahead shot with five seconds left to give the Gamecocks the lead and victory over Baylor. Fredrick scored 19 and Devan Downey scored a game-leading 23. Bears guards Curtis Jerrels lead Baylor with 22. The Bears deserve credit for a hard-fought game. On a day when South Carolina shot 57% from beyond the arc, Baylor almost beat us despite shooting below 50% from the field, indicating that they are likely the better team. However, it wasn't their night; the Gamecocks were hot and weren't going to let this one get away from them.
Make no mistake, this was a huge win for USC. In terms of indicating what this team is capable of, we now know that we can win a game against a top-flight opponent, something we were incapable of accomplishing a year ago. In a down year in the SEC, Baylor might well be one of the, if the not the, best teams we'll play all year. We just beat the Bears on the road, indicating that we're capable of beating anyone we play. As it did last night, big wins will likely require us to shoot extremely well, but we're capable of doing that regularly. Another important point about this game: If we manage to win around 10-12 games in SEC play, which I honestly think is possible if the ball rolls our way, this quality OOC win will go a long way towards securing us an at-large NCAAs bid.
As I said yesterday, Darrin Horn's team is going to please a lot of sad Gamecocks this year. It's time to put the disappointment of the football season behind us and get behind this team. They're everything the football team isn't: they have fire, they've found an identity, and they're maximizing their potential. Last night was our first indication of what they're capable of.