This week was the perfect example of youth for the South Carolina men's basketball team. In Wednesday's 57-47 loss at Alabama, the Gamecocks shot a pathetic 29% from the floor and had 20 turnovers. In Saturday's 72-69 upset of the Florida Gators, the young Gamecocks showed what they're capable of when they're all playing to the best of their abilities.
After taking a 19-18 lead on the first of two Ramon Galloway free throws with 8:21 left in the half, the Gamecocks would never trail again. It was the beginning of a 15-2 run that gave the Gamecocks a lead they would desperately need as the Gators made a late surge. The Gators would tie the game at 59-59 on an Alex Tyus layup that would last all of 15 seconds before a Bruce Ellington jumper gave the Gamecocks the lead for good.
The 15-2 run would epitomize what the game would be for the Gamecocks. Six different Gamecocks scored during the run as Ellington and Brian Richardson hit three-pointers, Damontre Harris, Lakeem Jackson, Ramon Galloway, and Sam Muldrow would score from inside the arc, and Muldrow would make one of two free throws.
It was that kind of balance that would lead the Gamecocks to victory. Ellington paced the offensive attack with 23 points, but Muldrow, Richardson, and Jackson each scored 10 points as all but two players that played scored.
Everybody that played had at least one rebound as the Gamecocks outrebounded the Gators - who entered the game as the #1 team in the conference in rebounding margin - 39-to-36. Malik Cooke - who had two key rebounds off missed Gator free throws late in the game - led the team with seven, Galloway had six rebounds, Muldrow and Jackson had five, Harris and Ellington had four apiece, Richardson had three, and RJ Slawson and Eric Smith had one.
The Gamecocks also had more assists than the Gators as Galloway led the team with a career-high six assists and Ellington added three, and only turned the ball over eight times after having 20 against the Tide.
How many times has Gamecock fans watched the opponent come roaring back in the final minutes and Carolina miss free throws down the stretch to lose in the final seconds? The Gators nearly did that, but a Muldrow three-pointer and four free throws by a freshman in Ellington secured the victory for the Gamecocks.
Carolina now enters a critical stretch in the conference season with three consecutive home games against Arkansas, Kentucky, and Auburn where the Gamecocks almost have to win at least two of the three to keep the momentum from this road victory going. This young group of Gamecocks that started three freshmen went down and beat the pre-season favorites to win the SEC in one of the toughest venues in the conference. The inconsistency that comes along with a young team may be what keeps this team out of the NCAA Tournament, but they proved Saturday afternoon that they are capable of playing with, and beating, the best the SEC has to offer.
SEC East Standings
South Carolina 2-1
SEC West Standings
Mississippi State 1-1
Ole Miss 0-3
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