In a battle between two of the SEC's worst teams, South Carolina fell at Auburn this afternoon, 63-52. Frankie Sullivan led Auburn with 22, while Bruce Ellington and Anthony Gill both scored nine for Carolina, and Damontre Harris tallied a career-high six blocks.
As it did a week ago against Florida, Carolina played fairly well early in the game, building a 28-24 lead at the half. However, Auburn owned the second period, outscoring the 'Cocks 39-24 to finish the eleven-point win. Turnovers were a big problem for Carolina. I've been impressed with how Carolina has protected the ball in recent weeks, but that didn't happen today; we committed 23 turnovers to Auburn's 14, and that undoubtedly made a major difference in the outcome. Shot selection and FG% were also problems for Carolina; Ellington, in particular, shot an abysmal 4-14.
What can the Gamecocks do to improve at this point? One thing I would like to see is for Damien Leonard to get more minutes. Leonard is going to have his freshman mistakes, but, in my opinion, he's a much more dynamic player than Brian Richardson, who Horn has been giving minutes to lately. Leonard shot the ball well when he got into the game today, but he didn't play enough to make a huge difference. I think giving him another 15 minutes per game could inject some life into our offense.
(Also, I hate to be that guy, but I wish we still had Ramon Galloway. Galloway is shooting nearly 50% from the field for 15 points per game for La Salle this year. Sometimes it just takes a guy like him a couple of years to mature. He'll probably be on the All-A10 team, when he could have been helping us.)
Lastly, one has to wonder how games like this will effect Darrin Horn's future here. I think it's quite possible that Horn will get another year either way; he reportedly has a large buyout, making it unlikely that we would fire him, pay the huge buyout, and then not have sufficient funds to get a better coach. That said, if Hyman is thinking about canning Horn, then this is the kind of game that may get Horn fired. It's one thing to lose to Kentucky or Florida. It's another thing to blow it against Auburn. Horn desperately needed this game for us to have any hope of finishing with a winning record this year. It's hard to know where the next win is going to come from at this point, and with such little hope, maybe it's time for Hyman to look elsewhere.