Disaster against the Alabama Crimson Tide struck again for the Gamecocks today, as the Tide rallied from 18 down with around 11 minutes to go and beat Carolina 68-63. Hats off to 'Bama for pulling off one of the more impressive rallies I've ever seen. Coming back from that deficit at the half is difficult enough; doing it almost halfway through the half is mind-bending. The big performers for Alabama were Justin Knox and Mikhail Torrance with 16 and 17 points, respectively. Devan Downey led Carolina with 21.
For Carolina, this win almost certainly ends the season unless Darrin Horn was lying about not accepting a CBI invite, and I doubt he was. And, quite frankly, although I'm sad that this was the last time we got to see Downey suit up for Carolina, this team doesn't deserve to play another game after what happened today. Alabama deserves all the credit in the world for what they did, but as we all know, comebacks like this always involve some combination of stellar play from the team that's down and huge meltdown from the team that's up. And a meltdown it was for the Gamecocks. We went completely cold for the last ten minutes of the game. With an 18 point lead, though, we probably still would have won the game despite the cold shooting if not for the numerous turnovers committed in the last few minutes. Brandis Raley-Ross was the biggest goat here, as he committed two costly turnovers that allowed the Tide to take the lead and then extend it to three on the very next possession. We also got our wires crossed on our final, potentially game-tying possession. As if to cement the utterly impotent play we saw in the final minutes, the usually icy-veined Downey missed a potentially game-tying free throw in the final minute. All in all, it was an ugly way to end a game, particularly one in which we played very well for most of the day.
If I can think of one positive to report, it would have to be the continued strong play of Ramon Galloway and Lakeem Jackson. Galloway looked great offensively and was one of the only players to do anything of note at the end of the game when he made a tying three. Jackson missed some key shots and free throws, but he nearly earned a double-double with his 9 points and 14 boards and had an overall strong day on defense. I'm really glad we have these guys for the next few years. In particular, you have to be happy that Galloway will be taking Raley-Ross's place next year; Galloway will be a major upgrade there.
At the end of the day, though, this game pretty much sums up our season: good enough to put ourselves in position to have a chance to do something big, but not good enough to finish. That's your 2009-2010 South Carolina Gamecocks.