Well, that wasn't pretty. LSU defeated the Gamecocks 85-68 in at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. Congratulations to the Tigers, who certainly came ready to defend their court. Zam Fredrick and Devan Downey led the Gamecocks with 18 points, while LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell led all scorers with 30. Dominique Archie contributed a double-double for Carolina.
The story of this game was poor first-half offensive play and poor post defense throughout the game by Carolina combined with an overall solid performance by LSU. Unlike LSU, we had a lot of trouble making shots and gave up plenty of turnovers in the first half and entered the second with a huge 40-22 deficit. During the second, we played better offensively and looked at times like we might manage to chip into the Tigers' lead, but we still had problems with turnovers and were never able to stop LSU long enough to make much headway. Tasmin Mitchell's ability to score at will was a big part of the problem. Our issues defending Mitchell down low don't bode well for our chances against future opponents like Kentucky that feature talented big men, especially considering that we matched up better size-wise with Mitchell and LSU than we will against future opponents. Still, our inability to score in the first half was the main problem in this game; we knew going into SEC play that we would be weak defensively in the post and that we would have to be able to match opponents point for point to win games. Tonight, we shot for 44% compared to LSU's 54%, which just isn't going to do it. Our pathetic 8-22 performance from the foul stripe certainly didn't help matters.
This loss serves as a sobering reminder that, while this team may be a little better than they were last year, they're still a project and are certainly capable of having an off-night. Still, it's important to remember that this was a road game, the team's first of the SEC season. Bad things happen to good teams on the road, especially when their opponent is good at home and comes out hitting all their shots. A team's true test after a loss like this is whether or not they can bounce back, and we have a great chance to redeem ourselves this weekend against Tennessee. Tennessee was blown out on their home court by Kentucky last night, which tells us that they're (1) a vulnerable team and (2) probably looking for a little redemption of their own. Hopefully, we'll give the Vols a game and, with a little luck, leave Knoxville with a win.