In an excellent opportunity to nab a much-needed road upset, the Gamecocks fell short to Ole Miss, 66-62. Carolina had its chances to win this game, as Malik Cooke missed the front-end of a potentially lead-changing one-and-one with less than a minute to go, and the Gamecocks then gave up an open three to the Rebels, which iced the game. Malik Cooke led Carolina with 17 points, while Terrance Henry led the Rebels with 15. Former Gamecock Murphy Holloway made his contribution with 14 for Ole Miss.
There are a couple of things to observe about this game. First of all, we're continuing to play poor offensive basketball. Our 8-21 from beyond the arc doesn't look too horrible, but then you realize that Cooke and Brenton Williams made six of the eight connections while taking less than half the total attempts. The 3FG% culprit was, again, Damien Leonard, who shot 1-7 from beyond the arc and 1-8 total. I was all for getting this kid more playing time a couple of weeks ago, but it appears that I was wrong. I would have to agree with tryptic's claim that Leonard's play is a screaming indictment of Darrin Horn; whether Horn is encouraging Leonard to do nothing but jack up threes or if Horn lacks the gumption to give Leonard the red light, you just can't have a guy on the floor who's playing like this. Tell him to attack the basket or sit down. Attacking the basket, I should add, might be a nice change of pace for a team that shoots a high FT% but that oftentimes gets to the line less than 10 times per game. In any event, I think it would be a good idea to give Williams Leonard's minutes. Williams has made the most of his minutes this season and deserves a look for a bigger role.
The good news is that Carolina won the TO battle again and was able to take +11 FGA. The defense wasn't great in this game, but it wasn't as bad as it has been. Able defense and the ability to produce turnovers are a hallmark of Horn's philosophy, so it's pleasing to see us execute his plan. If we can continue playing like that night in and night out, we'll win a few more games this year, regardless of how the offense produces.
It's difficult to be too upset after this game, as it was, after all, a road game against a solid team. The Gamecocks played well enough to win, which is major improvement after the recent Auburn debacle. That said, we needed this win in a bad way. We're about to head into a road game against Florida, a home date with Kentucky, and road games against Tennessee and Arkansas. It's hard to see us winning too many of those games. This may have been our last chance for a while, and we came up just short.