The South Carolina Gamecocks were throttled by Alabama, 73-50, on Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum to suffer their first loss of the season.
It was a nightmare from the opening tip as USC managed to stretch a dismal start all the way to the finish.
Alabama head coach Avery Johnson announced two days prior to Wednesday's game that Riley Norris would start against the Gamecocks. The usual bench player averaged a little over six points a game on the season. Johnson's faith and substitution paid off.
Norris knocked down his first seven three-point attempts to score a career-high 27 points in the win. He made five consecutive three-pointers in the first nine minutes of the game. To make matters worse, South Carolina wasn't responding on their end like they had done all season. The Gamecocks started the game missing seven of their first eight attempts from the field. Combining the misfires with seven turnovers in the first seven minutes, USC was in a 13-2 hole early on.
Frank Martin's team got out to a similar rough start against Vanderbilt and it took them until late in the second half to finally dig themselves out of that hole. Wednesday night, there would be no such opportunity. The Tide were firing away and the Gamecocks couldn't hit a thing.
Alabama held a 35-22 lead at halftime with Norris scoring 18 points by the break, tripling his per game average. The Crimson Tide then opened the second half with a 13-0 run. Beginning in the first half and stretching into the second, USC went 11 minutes without a field goal. They went eight minutes without even scoring at all. The Gamecocks missed their first 12 attempts out of the locker room.
Not once did South Carolina threaten Alabama's lead. Martin's club never managed to cut their deficit below 18. USC's previous scoring low on the season was 65 points - they would have been lucky to even sniff that on Wednesday. The Gamecocks shot 35.8 percent from the floor, 16.7 percent from outside the arc and 52.9 percent from the free throw line.
Alabama had an outrageously good shooting performance led by Norris. The Tide hit 12 of their 21 three-point attempts. South Carolina played awful, but even if they had played well, they still may not have overcome a shooting performance like that. USC's biggest advantage was rebounding. The Gamecocks were outrebounded for the second time this season but Alabama's shooting didn't present many opportunities to grab boards while USC's did.
The Tide improve to 14-2 over South Carolina in Tuscaloosa and earn their third win of the year over a ranked team.
South Carolina hosts Missouri at Colonial Life Arena on Saturday.