The Gamecocks suffered their first bad loss of the season tonight, falling 91-75 at Furman. Bruce Ellington lead Carolina with a career-high 31 points, while Amu Saaka led the Paladins with 20. Our hats should go off to Furman, who netted its first victory over Carolina in 30 years and what will undoubtedly be a signature win as the Paladins brace themselves for their conference slate. For the Gamecocks, however, the loss is a black eye on the season and a further indication that this team has a long ways to go before it's ready for the big time.
A few quick thoughts on the game:
- ESPN.com's recap reports that Darrin Horn has an ugly road record over the course of his tenure in Columbia. We're not only losing in Lexington and Knoxville, either. Horn has lost a number of road games to teams that we should by all accounts have beaten, and that, with all due respect to a good Furman team, was the case tonight. Road woes are a result of a lack of mental toughness, and that reflects on the coach. This isn't to say that any old team can win on the road in college basketball--it's not an easy proposition. But some teams do it, and our coach hasn't made us one of them.
- The story of this game from a tactical point of view is that we failed to attack Furman's interior. Furman has a decent front line for a mid-major, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have won the battle on the boards and scored some points in the paint. Instead, we were destroyed in rebounding margin and posed little scoring threat in the post. Our front line accounted for only 18 points on the night, a stat belied by our 30 3FGA on the night. We weren't working the ball inside. We have to be able to get more offensive production out of guys like Sam Muldrow if we're going to compete this year.
- The other big story of the game was Furman's shooting. They were on fire all night.
- Might a lineup change be in order? I'm not terribly impressed by the production we're getting out of Malik Cooke on the offensive end. Perhaps playing Demontre Harris a big more would be a good idea. A bigger lineup might help some of our interior woes. Just a thought. Cooke is good on the defensive end, so maybe we shouldn't give up on him.
That's a wrap on this one. Jacksonville State is up next.