South Carolina suffered its fifth loss of the season Tuesday night when they fell to Missouri, 72-67.
These mid-week, road SEC games have caused trouble for the Gamecocks this season. Three of their five losses have come during those kind of bouts. Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, all teams that aren't nearly as talented as USC, all managed to trip up Frank Martin's team when they visited their houses on a weeknight.
It was the same old story for South Carolina on the road in this one. A poor shooting to open the match-up led to a decent sized first half hole that was borderline impossible to dig themselves out of in the second half. This one had a few wrinkles to it though. Poor shooting wasn't the only thing that held these Gamecocks back and they even fought for, and obtained, the lead late in the game.
Thanks to some crazy offensive rebounding and a slew of extra possessions, Missouri pounced on South Carolina early. It was 6-1 Tigers after the first four minutes and then they held a 23-8 advantage after 10 minutes had ticked away in the first half. Carolina shot 9-of-37 in the first half, a mark good enough for a 24 percent clip. They were also hurt by foul trouble in the opening period as four different Gamecocks picked up two fouls. Mizzou's offense slowed down after earning their big opening lead, going on a five-minute stretch with just one field goal. They still managed to take a 33-25 lead into halftime.
A hot second half start has become a custom for South Carolina in their sleepy road performances and they came out of the break converting their first three attempts from the field. Missouri was able to respond though, rattling off a 7-0 run after the Gamecocks' opening spurt.
USC rallied again, this time making five field goals in a row. But, Missouri was there again with another 7-0 run, forcing Martin to call a timeout.
South Carolina had one more run in them, and it was a big one. The Gamecocks held the Tigers without a field goal for six minutes while going on a 9-0. Trailing 62-54 before the run, USC managed to take a lead with 2:57 to play. The lead changed hands several times in the final minutes with Mizzou making the final play with 35 seconds to go. Following a defensive stop, the Tigers scored on the other end to take a three-point lead. South Carolina took the ball, in a one possession game, and turned it over in the worst possible moment. Missouri iced the game at the line and USC suffered possibly its worse loss of the season.
The Tigers best player was kicked off the team mere hours before Tuesday's tip. Their win at Missouri Arena Tuesday night was one of just three SEC wins on the year for the Tigers, and their second in a row after defeating Tennessee at home last weekend.
It marked the first loss, following a loss this season for South Carolina. They had responded with a win after each of their previous four losses by a two-possession clip.
The Gamecocks will return home on Saturday against Florida, who also holds an 8-5 record in SEC play. The game is already sold out and should be an important affair for the SEC Tournament seeding and USC's NCAA Tournament chances.