In a matchup between two teams that have seen better days, South Carolina will host Alabama tomorrow night. Carolina, as we well know, has struggled all season, while Alabama comes into this contest having lost three straight, albeit to some of the SEC's best teams. The Tide lost a close one at Rupp Arena in its last outing.
Needless to say, despite 'Bama's recent struggles, it will take a very strong effort for the Gamecocks to come away from this one with a win. The Tide are, moreover, a tough matchup for Carolina; they come into this game with the conference's best defense, while Carolina sports the conference's worst offense. Carolina will need to find some kind of huge offensive spark if it's going to score enough points to win this game. We need Bruce Ellington to go off, or perhaps for Brian Richardson or Damien Leonard to heat up and make a big contribution. We also need Malik Cooke to have a steady game.
It's also very important is for Carolina to play a full game. Over the past few games, Carolina has had moments when it's looked like a fairly competent basketball team, playing good defense and deliberate, effective offense. Then, typically out of the gate to start the second half, it wilts, giving up a dominant run to the other team while going completely haywire on offense by failing to take good shot and turning the ball over frequently. If Carolina can play a full game against the Tide, we can make a game of this one--we have the talent to do it. The question is if we can stay focused.
The thing to watch for from the Tide will be whether they come out flat in this game. On the one hand, they have to be motivated to end their losing streak, particularly knowing they're playing a very vulnerable team. On the other hand, they lost a heartbreaker in the Bluegrass last weekend, and it may be tough to get up for this game by comparison. If they come out still smarting from the last game, that improves our chances to pull the upset.