Darrin Horn's Gamecocks won in an important game today over the LSU Tigers in the CLA. The Tigers held a 35-27 at the half and appeared to be in control at times. True to form, Trent Johnson's team played smart ball and waited for us to make mistakes, which we did quite often early in the game. In the second half, though, we settled in defensively, shot the ball better, and chipped into LSU's lead, eventually taking the lead and then running with it in the final five minutes. Devan Downey led the 'Cocks with 29 points, while Storm Warren led LSU with 19.
Here are a few thoughts on the game.
- Downey, who struggled a bit at times during the OOC slate, is playing inspired ball right now, some of the best that I'vfe seen played in a Gamecocks uniform. Over the past three games, he's averaging 27 ppg, and against Auburn and LSU, many of those points--as well as countless other big defensive plays and great passes--came at just the right time. We all knew this already, but this guy is a great basketball player. Enjoy watching him this year.
- Do we have a shot at the NCAAs? If we do, it's a long shot. We have a lot of ground to make up in the RPI and we have no huge OOC wins to hang our hats on. However, all hope is not lost. If we can continue beating the teams we should and get at least a couple of upsets over some combination of the Ole Miss Rebels, Kentucky Wildcats, and / or Tennessee Volunteers, we might be able to make up enough ground. Can we do that? Well, I know we can beat the teams we're supposed to, and if we can play like we did in the last few minutes of tonight's game for 40 minutes, then I think we could steal a couple from the big boys too. You also have to think that if we get hot we stand a chance to make an SECT run.
- As happy as I am about this win, I really want to know what our problem in first halves is. Some improvement in second half play is to be expected from a team like us, as we rely on our uptempo style to wear teams out and take advantage of them late. However, not getting fatigue points isn't our only problem in the first half. We can't shoot the ball and seem to make more mental mistakes. As poorly as LSU shot the ball and as much as they turned it over early in the game, we should have been able to run away with this one earlier than we did, but we didn't due to the bad play. Luckily, LSU wasn't good enough to really take advantage of our foibles and put us into a big, insurmountable hole, but we will play teams that will be able to do that. We really need to improve early game play.
That's a wrap on this one. Great win for the 'Cocks. Vandy is up next.