The stat sheet jumped out as odd immediately. Only seven Gamecocks played major minutes? And one of them was Jaylen Shaw? I legitimately wondered if the Gamecocks had come down with a team virus.
Instead, Martin chose to match the Panthers' short bench (they only had seven players available - thanks to the suspension of starter Raymond Taylor - that had played significant minutes this season) by playing only seven players significant minutes. Given the dearth of fouls for both teams (33 combined), neither faced significant issues with this arrangement aside from fatigue, as only Tyrnell Murphy of FIU accumulated four fouls on the game, and no players were disqualified.
For reasons, I was unable to watch this game live, and since it's one of the few broadcasts this season that is not on the ESPN family of networks, there's no easily accessed replay of the game available (let me know if I'm wrong about this in the comments). So instead, I'll present to you the individual and team statistics, make a few observations, but otherwise throw it to the folks in the comments who saw the game to answer a few questions I have as someone who didn't witness the action.
|Advanced Box Score|
|Marco Porcher Jimenez||23||18||15||3-3||2-5||3-3||0||2||1||0||0||1|
1. That's not the kind of defense you want to see out of a Carolina squad who we thought had improved a bit more in that area this season. Of course, they're still much better than the 2012-13 squad, but FIU out-shot their season average from 2P% against the Gamecocks, and it's not as if the Panthers played a formidable schedule against their five previous Division I opponents this season. The fact that FIU scored 1.322 points per each possession they didn't turn the ball over means the Gamecocks are going to become more and more reliant on using steals and pressure to stop teams. It can work (just ask VCU), but when it goes wrong, it goes very wrong.
2. South Carolina continues won the battle of extra possessions (turnovers and rebounds) by a substantial margin in each category. They took nine extra FGAs and got the same number of FTAs as the Panthers did. The Gamecocks scored 1.15 points per FGM, while the Panthers scored 1.08. The extra nine shots meant an extra ten points, which accounted for almost the entirety of the twelve-point difference between the teams.
3. Jaylen Shaw? Johnson and Williams spoke highly of him in post-game interviews, but raise your hand if you saw this coming. In his first three games he didn't contribute much if anything, and was a very turnover-prone player in our exhibition win over USC Aiken. But Shaw played magnificently on the afternoon, with 16 points on 6-10 shooting (4-7 from 3PA), adding five assists and only turning the ball over twice. He won't keep shooting 50% from 3PA this year, but if he can keep that assist to turnover ratio around 2:1, he's got a chance to really help a team that could use point guard depth until at least the return of Bruce Ellington.
4. Where were the rest of the Gamecocks? Of the 200 minutes available, 195 went to only seven players. I was very surprised to see that Kacinas and Henry played a combined 66 minutes in the post, leaving Desmond Ringer four minutes (I will guess that Carrera filled in the final 10 minutes down low?). Speaking of Carrera, he was the only Gamecock to struggle offensively, going 1-6 from the field, but more disappointingly only grabbing one offensive rebound. He hasn't been playing at the level he played last season yet. I'd be interested in seeing a rotation where Carrera plays the four offensively but guards the three defensively - his game doesn't seem to have acclimated to the outside of the paint yet. It'll be interesting to see how he and the team adjust to his new role this year.
So now I ask you - what did you see? What's missing from the numbers and the observations above? Fill in the details for us in the comments.
The Gamecocks take a sizable break in their schedule at this point - their only game in the next 23 days is a week from Friday against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who should be ranked no lower than 5th when the new polls come out later today. That game, a part of the SEC-Big XII Challenge, takes place on Friday, December 6th at 9:30pm, and will be broadcast nationwide on ESPNU. The Gamecocks face a massive task in trying to beat the Cowboys in Stillwater, but the game will once again serve as a benchmark for how well this team could potentially perform as the season goes along.
Overall, it's nice to get the second win of the season, and to avoid an upset in one of the four games on the schedule (Longwood, Marshall, and SC State being the others) that the Gamecocks really should have won without a doubt. To the extent this team harbors hopes of seeing the postseason in any form, this was one they had to have.
For a full recap from our friends who were at the game, check out The Big Spur at this link.