South Carolina hung around with the Wildcats on the defensive end for most of the afternoon, but they simply weren't able to mount enough offense, putting up just 43 points in the 40-minute contest and falling to the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats 58-43. The loss drops Carolina to 1-5 in SEC play, and leaves them with few remaining avenues into the NCAA Tournament.
|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|
1. South Carolina got murdered due to shooting. The Gamecocks shot 25.5% in eFG. Not field goal percentage - effective field goal percentage, the one that counts made three-point shots as 1.5 instead of one, because they count more. The Gamecocks decided they wanted to win the game from the inside, and while they got to the foul line with some consistency (and made their shots there, going 16-21 from the stripe), they shot just 21% on 2s, and there's really no way to win a game doing that unless you shoot almost all of your shots from beyond the arc. Instead of all their shots, USC took fewer than one-of-five from outside. That'll get you killed every time.
2. The offensive rebounding gave them a chance. One of the most impressive aspects of the game for Carolina was their ability to grab offensive boards, pulling down 18 of their 43 misses. But again, due to the woeful shooting we outlined above, the Gamecocks weren't able to do anything with the extra chances. 43 points just isn't going to get it done, certainly not against a team as electric offensively as Kentucky.
2. The defense played very well. Carolina only gave up 58 points in 57 possessions, and a number of those points came in transition for the Wildcats off careless Carolina turnovers (although to their credit, the Wildcats are excellent at forcing turnovers). Still, when USC got settled into their defense, they were able to play with Kentucky, and that's the type of defense they need to carry them forward in SEC play.
Carolina proved today that, at least on one side of the court, they can play with anyone in the nation this afternoon. Unfortunately, they're going to have to figure out a way to get better on the offensive end if they want to start winning games. Their next chance comes on Wednesday, at LSU.