Kevin C. Cox
The Gamecocks didn't manage to bounce back from the debacle in Gainesville, losing to Georgia this afternoon by a score of 67-56. The Gamecocks held a 30-29 lead at the half behind Michael Carrera's 15 first-half points, but Carrera and the rest of the team struggled down the stretch after Georgia took a lead early in the second half. UGA star Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all scorers with 19 on 7-11 shooting.
Although not surprising, per se, this is a very disappointing loss. Georgia is a little more talented than the Gamecocks this season, but they've struggled through much of the season. This was certainly one of the more apparently "winnable" games remaining on the schedule, and the Gamecocks failed to capitalize on the opportunity.
One of the stories of the game was South Carolina's ineptitude in the half-court offense. Much like against Vanderbilt a couple of weeks ago, the Gamecocks struggled profoundly to create open shots against a Georgia defense that was more intent to deny shots than to force turnovers. These struggles are the result of Darrin Horn's failure to teach the experienced players how to run an effective half-court offense combined with the inexperience of the freshman class. The Gamecocks do better against teams like Arkansas that are more aggressive, as they're able to score points in transition. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that we're going to get much better here over the course of the season, and I suspect few teams will follow Arkansas's approach against us. It's going to take us time and a fresh infusion of talent to move forward here.
Obviously, Carolina may steal a game or two from a team like Ole Miss, but we really needed to win more of these early-season home games against teams like Auburn, Vandy, and UGA if we were to make a serious run at the NIT. At this point, I'd be satisfied with 15 wins and a little momentum heading into next season.