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South Carolina at Auburn Hoops: Gamecocks Travel to Plains Searching for First SEC Win

Overall, the Gamecocks' season is currently on life-support. As luck would have it, this weekend presents the most winnable conference game thus far: a matchup with similarly struggling Auburn, which has lost four of five, with the one win coming over fellow cellar-dweller Ole Miss in overtime. Of course, Auburn is hardly a pushover for this year's Gamecocks--and a loss will mean this season's meltdown will each nuclearly toxic levels.

What does Carolina need to do differently to leave the Plains with a victory? Probably more or less everything, but one thing jumps out in particular: Carolina needs to get back to playing strong defense. The Gamecocks seemed to be playing tough defense through the late part of their non-conference schedule, but when faced with the more formidable offenses of Florida and Vanderbilt, we struggled, giving up 50% or more from beyond the arc in both games. That's not just the opponent getting hot, folks. That's us playing questionable perimeter defense.

The good news is that Auburn is unlikely to put up those kinds of numbers from beyond the arc, even if we don't improve significantly. The other good news is that Carolina has been playing well in other regards: Our own offense has improved somewhat as Bruce Ellington has gained his touch, and we've been rebounding well and not turning the ball over too much. If another scorer emerges to supplement Ellington and Malik Cooke, like Damien Leonard or Brian Richardson, I'd almost say we would be good offensively. That defense, though, might take a bit more work.