In terms of overall results, this was just an average week in Columbia, South Carolina. The women won both matchups, and the men lost a pair.
The thing is, you could argue that every result had the chance to completely flip from a win to a loss or vice versa.
The men almost shocked the league with how they played against Alabama. The Cocks started the game on a 16-3 run, but unsurprisingly, the Crimson Tide managed to tie the game up just about four minutes later.
Things stayed close for more or less the whole contest, with USC cutting it to a one-point game with 8:25 left to play, but more importantly, this was a two-point game with a minute to play.
South Carolina had not one... not two... but three chances to tie the game up, and they did manage to score... a layup when the team needed three points. Sadly, with three seconds left, no timeouts and the length of the floor ahead of them as a result of the boneheaded play, that’s all she wrote for that one.
Next up for the men was Ole Miss, and the Rebels were doing everything in their power to lose this one.
Having dominated the whole game, Ole Miss played like they got their talent sucked out of them Space Jam style for the last two-and-a-half minutes.
South Carolina cut a 13-point deficit with two minutes and change to go to a seven-point deficit just a minute later.
A missed Rebel free throw later, Hannibal turns it over.
Two missed Rebel free throws later, Hannibal misses a shot.
An Ole Miss turnover later, both Hannibal and Lawson miss shots.
Another day, another game for the taking wasted.
If only this team had a closer...
As for the women, they continued to win after the UConn loss, but these wins weren’t anything to get excited about.
It took until the second half for the Gamecocks to pull away from a bad Missouri team. Yes, they pulled away with a vengeance, but being tied through 20 minutes with a team of that caliber won’t win you a championship.
Against LSU, South Carolina played like themselves for about three-and-a-half quarters.
USC enjoyed a double-digit lead for about the whole contest, but they ended up going through an Ole Miss-like meltdown at the end where a 12-point lead with two and change to go evaporated into a five-point lead with 0:28 to go.
If it weren’t for some clutch free throws from Eniya Russell, they may have been able to come all the way back.
Didn’t love seeing the women lose focus like that.
Anyway, in a week where I most definitely could’ve been happier with the Gamecocks, I still carry on with some players to recognize.
Player of the Week: A.J. Lawson
This may have not been accurate in previous weeks, but I truly do believe Lawson is this team’s best player, and he’s finally begun to show it (only took him a couple years!).
He’s dropped 20 or more points in four of his last five games and is the guy his teammates look for when nothing is working.
Also, he’s the only player on the team that made more than one three-point shot in a game last week...
This is a three-point shooter’s game, and it seems that Lawson may be the only one that’s adjusted to it.
Additionally, while guys like Couisnard, Bryant and Hannibal turn the ball over like it’s its own sport, Lawson has learned how to be productive while simultaneously being smart with the ball.
He may not have had the most difficult looks this past week, he may not have shot the best percentage from the field, but I still feel like USC lives and dies at the hands of A.J. Lawson — this week’s MVP and the team’s MVP.
Runner-up: Destanni Henderson
No one really blew me away on the women’s team this week (although it may just be the expectations they have), but I thought Henderson played the best and was the most valuable.
In a game versus Missouri where the score was painfully close through halftime, Henderson led the run to pull away near the end of the third quarter, scoring seven straight points in a two-minute stretch.
She also managed to collect four steals in that one, which was one shy of her career high.
In the LSU game, she added another two steals to her total, but it was more of an offensive game for her.
Henderson was the leading scorer on the team with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. She even shot her 3s on a 50% clip!
Her turnovers were a tad high and I would’ve preferred a little more ball movement, but in all, I thought Henderson played a quality week of basketball.
Honorable Mention: Wildens Leveque
Just a little reminder that this award doesn’t always mean the third best player in my mind but someone who I feel deserves a little love.
Leveque had a good week!
Although he flies a little under the radar, he finished with a +/- of 15 against Alabama, eight more points than the next highest. So, when he was on the floor, good things generally happened!
Next up, Leveque scored a career-high 13 points, shooting an impressive 6-of-7 from the field, in the team’s bad loss to Ole Miss.
Let’s see if he can build on that performance next week!