Role Reversal: Gamecocks Drill Cowboys

A year ago, Oklahoma State beat South Carolina by 27 points in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. On Saturday, the Gamecocks avenged that loss with a 26-point victory – 75-49 – over the Cowboys in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in Columbia, South Carolina. The 49 points was the fewest by the Cowboys in 93 games, equaling the output in a 58-49 loss at Texas on Jan. 7, 2012.

The loss was the Cowboys first of the season and prevented them from opening 8-0 for the first time in Travis Ford’s seven years as head coach. South Carolina improves to 5-3 with the victory.

The 26-point loss is the worst since Baylor's 106-65 win over the Cowboys on Jan. 14, 2012. It is the third worst loss in the Ford's 210 games as Cowboys head coach.

The Cowboys didn’t look anything like that team that began the season with seven straight wins, or the squad that routed South Carolina by 27 points a year ago inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. In that win, the Cowboys shot 44.6 percent from the field and the trio of Le’Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins and Phil Forte combined to score 34 points while shooting 12 of 19 on field goal attempts.

But Nash, Cobbins and Forte were a combined 7-of-32 shooting for 22 points on Saturday inside Colonial Life Arena.

Forte was coming of the best game of his college career in Wednesday night’s victory over North Texas. The 5-11 junior scored a career-best 32 points on 8 of 13 shooting, including making 5 of the 9 three-pointers he took.

But the Gamecocks didn’t let the Big 12’s leading scorer entering the game (19.3 points) get into any rhythm on Saturday, forcing him into the worst shooting game of his career (1 of 14 overall and 1 of 11 from behind the line). He finished with just five points, his lowest scoring output since scoring two against Kansas last March.

Nash returned to the court Saturday after serving a one-game suspension in OSU’s win over North Texas on Wednesday night. But the 6-foot-7 senior didn’t look like the Big 12’s second-leading scorer (18.3 points per game), finishing 4-of-15 from the field. He did finish with 13 points, and was the only OSU player in double figures.

Cobbins added just four points on 2-of-3 shooting, and continues to struggle as he comes back from last season’s Achilles injury.

The Cowboys struggled shooting the ball, making only 16 of 65 shots for 24.6 percent. They missed 14 of their first 18 shots but still only trailed by seven midway through the first half. But Jeff Newberry and Forte both knocked down a pair of three-pointers and when freshman point guard Tyree Griffin found Cobbins open under the basket for his first basket the Cowboys led 18-17.

That would be their only lead as South Carolina scored six in a row to regain the advantage and closed out the first half on a 15-6 run to go ahead 32-24.

The Gamecocks then used a 17-2 run early in the second half to take a commanding 54-34 lead with 12:40 remaining.

"There weren't many positives on our side but congratulations to them they played really good," Ford said. "Obviously, we didn't shoot the ball well but they had a lot to do with that. You can say, 'Oh we had an off night.' no, they played good defense. Give them credit.

"It kind of snowballed for us a little bit and for them. That's what happens in sports. Period. I don't care if it is basketball, football, baseball whatever it is. You get the momentum going at home and their team is ready.

"You could tell they were really focused on winning. I thought that all their players played to a really high level. Everybody on his team did a good job playing to their strengths. We could just never really get anything going. Congrats to them. Give them the credit."

The Cowboys don’t play any games during the week because of finals in the classroom but do return to action next Saturday in a nationally televised game at Memphis (ESPN2).


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