South Carolina started the season as well as one could ask on Friday night, with a 81-56 win over North Florida that wasn't even as close as that makes it appear - South Carolina opened up a 21-point lead at halftime and coasted through the final 20 minutes for their first win of the season.
The box score shows what your eyes saw - complete domination in all four phases of the game.
|Advanced Box Score|
|PPP = Points per poss.|
|Non-TO = PPP on non-turnover poss.|
|eFG = (2PM+(1.5*3PM))/FGA|
|FTR = FTA/FGA|
|3PA% = 3PA/FGA|
Three Thoughts on the Team Statistics
1. This will do basically every time out. The Gamecocks shot the ball well inside and out, and didn't need to rely on 3s to score on offense, shooting just 4-11 from distance. They got the foul line regularly to earn easy points from the stripe and converted those opportunities. They didn't turn the ball over, and they extended possessions by grabbing their own misses.
That 1.174 points per possession probably won't be the best number they put up all year, and it could certainly still be better - especially against a team as bad as North Florida - but it was a strong opening night for Carolina on the offensive end of the floor.
2. Defensively, the Gamecocks made North Florida try to beat them from deep. That can be a bit of a gamble given that you don't really control how well teams shoot from 3, but the Gamecock defense also forced the Ospreys into it because they simply didn't allow them to score on the inside.
Carolina's defense also did a nice job of forcing turnovers on Friday night, and with the notable exception of Demetrius Henry, did a decent job of cleaning up their foul-prone ways.
3. Again, it's not some sort of elite performance, but it's a solid effort against a team that Carolina should beat easily. The fact that they did is something to celebrate, and the fact they did it playing well on both ends is all the better. In a game like this, the best kind of win you can have is one like this, where you look at the stat sheet and find yourself thinking the team won because they comprehensively beat the opposition. Of course the Gamecocks have things to work on, but there's nothing that sticks out here as a potential concern going forward. That said, Baylor will surely expose us in a few places where North Florida simply could not.
Three Thoughts on the Player Statistics
1. Welcome back, Tyrone Johnson. The senior point guard returned to action with 12 points, five defensive rebounds, and four assists against zero turnovers, along with a steal. He looked in control all night and sparked the Gamecocks' early dominance over the Ospreys.
2. Welcome here, Marcus Stroman. The freshman point guard lined up at times with Tyrone Johnson, and having two capable ball handlers on the court helped the Gamecocks minimize their turnovers on the evening, as Stroman also avoided committing a turnover while chipping in six assists, three defensive rebounds, and six points in 25 minutes. He looked comfortable on the court and ready to play a big role on this team, providing depth the Gamecocks will need given their short bench for the season. Obviously we'll learn more about him as the season goes along, but it's an excellent first outing.
3. What a team effort. Basically everyone contributed in some way - Brian Steele drained a few three pointers, Michael Carrera put a number up in basically every column of the stat sheet, Demetrius Henry tied for the team lead in points, and so on. Just a very good outing overall for Carolina, and the type you like to see in advance of the season taking a turn for the more difficult this coming week, as they have four big games that will determine how seriously we can take this team's post-season chances. First up? Baylor in the Colonial Life Arena at noon on Tuesday as part of ESPN's 24 hour tip-off day.