Alabama defeated Darrin Horn's Gamecocks last night in Tuscaloosa by a score of 57-47. The Tide's JaMychal Green led all scorers with 20 and nearly notched a double-double with nine rebounds. Malik Cooke led Carolina with 11 points.
Carolina played fine defensively in this game, and as long as Sam Muldrow stays out of foul trouble consistently, I expect that will continue to be the case. Carolina was a terror for 'Bama, both forcing plenty of turnovers and bad shots. Considering how many easy baskets they got off turnovers, holding the Tide to 43% from the field should be considered a huge success.
The problem in this game was, again, poor decision-making and offensive strategy. As GwinnetGamecock wrote last night in the open thread, Carolina plays at one speed and needs to learn to slow the game down at times. Pushing the ball down the court and looking for quick scores is all well and good when the plays are there, but our guys haven't learned the difference between when that's the case and when pushing it can only be considered forcing it. There were also some poor, underclassman decisions made with loose balls and the like. Carolina gave up 19 turnovers, which speaks for itself.
Second of all, and relatedly, our coaching staff needs to do some serious work on our offensive strategy. Horn's philosophy is that a stifling defense is the best offense. However, what is Horn's solution when the turnovers aren't there or when they're not creating fast-break points? Apparently, he has none, because this team doesn't seem to have any coherent half-court offense. Horn needs to solve that. Having a good full-court offense is great when it's working, but we need an alternative when it's not. It's simply undefensible strategy to continue to have our guys lob up long threes whenever we're forced into a halfcourt set.
I've been harping on these points all season, and I'm going to continue to harp on them if we don't get them right. Beating Vandy was great, but it was partially based on torrid shooting that can't always be replicated. If we want to take the next step from a team that can engineer an upset on a good shooting day to a team that can consistently win and challenge the best teams on the good shooting days, we need to address these issues.