The Gamecocks dominated Marshall on Monday night, running away from the Herd with a 22-7 run to open the first 10 minutes of the game, and never letting the hosts get within ten points the rest of the way as they eased to a comfortable 77-59 win. With the victory, the Gamecocks current total for road wins in the 2014-15 season matches their road win total for each of the last three seasons - one. They now have nine road SEC contests that give them a chance to beat those prior totals.
|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 Stats
1. That's a really solid defensive effort. The Gamecocks won this game on defense, smothering Marshall by limiting them to shooting just 37% on two-point shots. Combined with creating turnovers on over one quarter of the Herd's offensive possessions, Carolina ultimately limited their Conference USA hosts to under 0.800 points per possession, an excellent number.
2. The offense didn't play well, but they did plenty enough. There are some shooting issues that you can find in the offensive numbers, but generally speaking, when you hit over 60% of your 2s, you're going to be in good shape unless you spent most of the night turning the ball over or hurling up 3s. The Gamecocks did neither, instead ending the night with 13 layups or dunks, and also shooting 9-14 on two-point jumpers. That's a nice evening of shot making, especially considering their earlier struggles on interior shots.
None of the other numbers were super, but if you put out an average performance in every category, you'll end up averaging just over one point per possession. That won't be good enough on nights where the other team has something going on the offensive end, but against this Marshall team, it was plenty.
3. That said, there are still areas to improve. There's plenty that could've gone worse - the Herd played without one of their best players (Shawn Smith was out with an injury), and shot a woeful 5-26 from behind the arc. Give them another scorer and an average night from downtown, and we're looking at a competitive game.
In addition, the offensive performance is slightly disappointing - you wish the Gamecocks would put together a nice night from beyond the arc sooner or later, as 4-20 doesn't inspire confidence, not to mention the disappointment of shooting just 13-24 from the free throw line. Simply put, the offensive numbers just look like a litany of wasted opportunities.
And yet, the Gamecocks scored over one point per possession and won by 18 points on the road. When you don't play your best and you win comfortably on the road, you start wondering that you might have a good team.
Three Thoughts on the Player Stats
1. The role players stepped up big. Raise your hand if you expected over 70% of the Gamecocks' points to come from three combined players. OK, that's some of you, likely expecting Sindarius Thornwell and Tyrone Johnson to combine with a third player to pace the Gamecocks.
Instead, the output came from Lamionas Chatkevicius, Duane Notice, and Justin McKie, the last two setting career highs on the evening. Notice has spent too much of this season failing to make an impact on the offensive end, and his 27 points came on the first night he's really taken the reins on the offensive end. Meanwhile, Chatkevicius continues to make his case that he's the best offensive threat the Gamecocks have in the post, going 7-9 from the field in 18 minutes of action.
And for the first time in his career, Justin McKie saw extended action, as his 22 minutes marked a career high in playing time in one game. He went 5-8 from the field and added four rebounds against just one turnover. He still doesn't look great on the floor, but he looked comfortable in his role on the offense and represents an actual threat when he's on the court, as compared to guys like Brian Steele and Mindaugas Kacinas, who typically shy away from scoring opportunities. Another scoring threat means better opportunities for guys like Sindarius Thornwell and Tyrone Johnson, and that's great news going forward if McKie can replicate it.
2. An 18-point win with only 11 points from the stars? Um, sure. Speaking of Thornwell and Johnson, they accounted for just 11 points in 47 minutes of action. For Johnson, it's the third shaky outing so far this season - he also struggled to make a real impact against Akron or Charlotte. At some point, it's worth asking if the way he's being used this year is hurting his game, and what can be done to fix it. The last thing this team needs is a lost season akin to Michael Carrera's sophomore campaign, particularly from its senior leader.
As for Thornwell, he wasn't bad in his 27 minutes, but he also wasn't stellar. It's his fourth straight game where he hasn't really shined, though he continues to bear the brunt of production, scoring in double digits in each of those outings. Still, the Gamecocks are only going to go as far as their two best players can carry them; otherwise, the ceiling on this team isn't very high.
3. Marcus Stroman had a freshman game. He's fine, and he's going to be good. But on a night where a lot of players looked good, Stroman put up five turnovers against just six points in 25 minutes, though he added three assists. One area that freshmen normally struggle is turnovers, and while it's understandable that he's going to make mistakes, it's one of those performances that could cost the team in a closer game.
That said, nitpicking an 18-point victory is a luxury the Gamecocks would love to live with this season. Next up is a big chance for a marquee out-of-conference win, as Oklahoma State comes to the Colonial Life Arena on Saturday.