There's no easy way to say it - South Carolina blew a huge opportunity to build its NCAA resume on Saturday night with an extremely disappointing three-point loss to the Auburn Tigers. The loss drops the Gamecocks to 1-3 in the SEC, and the forthcoming conference schedule only added to the disappointment.
The Gamecocks likely need 10-11 wins in SEC play to make the NCAA Tournament, which requires no worse than a 9-5 run to finish out the season. With four games left against Arkansas and Kentucky, not to mention the other eight games that don't involve hosting Missouri or Mississippi State, it's tough to see the Gamecocks putting together the type of stretch they need to end their 11-year absence from the Big Dance.
|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. Foul shots killed Carolina. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers from the field, but got hammered by 18 points from the free throw stripe. Some of that came from not shooting very well - Auburn beat Carolina 79% to 53% from the line - but the Tigers also created far, far more opportunities there as well.
Some of that's a credit to Auburn for going to the rim, and some of that is the breaks you get when you travel and don't get the same sorts of calls that you get at home (for example, one of the reasons that Arkansas' game doesn't travel is that they rely heavily on foul calls). That said, it seemed like a combination of poor officiating and the Gamecocks not going up strong enough, often enough, that led to their demise.
2. The Gamecocks didn't win the small things. They weren't clobbered in either aspect, but this is the type of game where a couple of extra shots change the calculus. Instead of getting them, however, the Gamecocks gave them away - they were out-rebounded on the glass and gave the ball away four more times than the Tigers. Those four extra possessions made all the difference.
3. A wasted shooting night. Going into another gym and out-shooting the home team by as much as Carolina did is impressive - they beat the Tigers 53-38% from two and 44-35% from downtown. The fact that wasn't enough to win says a lot about how they played in the rest of the areas.
1. Nice game, Laimonas. The big Lithuanian was impressive in all aspects, racking up 15 points on 7-10 shooting (1-2 from beyond the arc) to go with 11 total rebounds (two offensive) as well as two blocks. You'd like to see him get to the foul line a little more - only one missed attempt - but that's a great effort in the post against a team that doesn't play anyone over 6'8" for significant periods of time. The script for winning this game included some domination in the paint, and while the Gamecocks didn't do it as a whole, the Big Melon certainly did it here.
2. The rest of the post didn't really deliver. While Laimonas played a great game, the combined stat line for Demetrius Henry, Michael Carrera, and Mindaugas Kacinas was as follows -
- 50 minutes (v. 30 minutes for Chat)
- 9 points (v. 15 for Chat, with Henry scoring zero)
- 4 rebounds (v. 11 for Chat, with Henry grabbing zero)
- 5 turnovers (v. 2 for Chat)
- 1 block (v. 2 for Chat)