Horn not buying into 'freshman wall' theory

With the plethora of freshmen playing significant roles for the South Carolina this season, the subject of hitting the "freshman wall" has become a hot topic of conversation.

Some of the Gamecocks' freshmen who were a big part of their early success have struggled in the Gamecocks' most recent games, which has led to the team losing four of five through Feb. 9.

South Carolina coach Darrin Horn doesn't want to hear that, however, believing a late-season freshman breakdown should never be the case.

"Everybody loves to talk about that this time of year," Horn said. "I think that is part of the growing process. I think that is part of maturing. I think it is part of being mentally tough. Probably everybody who gets up to go to work every day, who knows what they've got going on? That's life.

"I know this, if you're 19 years old and you're on full scholarship playing in the (Southeastern Conference), if you are, you need to get over it."

Although freshman Damontre Harris managed no points and two rebounds Feb. 9 in a 79-60 loss to Florida, Bruce Ellington scored a team-high 14. Brian Richardson came off the bench to score 10, all in the second half

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: The Gamecocks find themselves in the precarious position of locking down last place in the Eastern Division early after dropping their third straight home league game and the fourth overall in their last five SEC outings.

South Carolina was unable to do much of anything against nationally ranked Florida team that played like it in claiming a 79-60 victory in Columbia on Feb. 9. The Gamecocks continued to struggle making shots, connecting on just 41.8 percent of their 55 field goals. Florida hit 31 of 56 shots from the floor.

Making matters worse, the Gamecocks committed 18 turnovers. South Carolina never posed a threat to Florida, which never trailed.

Although freshman Bruce Ellington paced Carolina with 14 points, he made only six of 19 shots and two of 10 3-point attempts

With a road games against Kentucky and Tennessee on the docket in mid-February, the Gamecocks desperately need to topple an impressive Georgia squad in Columbia on Feb. 12 if they want any chance of pulling themselves out of the Eastern Division cellar.


--South Carolina shot better than 40 percent for the third straight game Feb. 9, connecting on 41.8 percent against Florida. It also marked the second straight game the Gamecocks' opponent has made better than 50 percent, as the Gators were 31 of 56 (55.4 percent).

--Through Feb. 9, South Carolina was shooting 44.5 percent from the floor and scoring 74.8 points per game in its wins this season. The Gamecocks were making only 36.7 percent from the floor and scoring 63 points in their losses.

--Junior F Malik Cooke continues to come off the bench, but he performs like one of the Gamecocks' top performers. He scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, had three steals and blocked two shots against Vanderbilt. He also had a strong performance in the win over Florida earlier in the season, totaling seven points and seven rebounds.

--Freshmen Bruce Ellington, Brian Richardson and Damontre Harris have watched their productivity slide in recent games. Does that mean the trio has hit that dreaded phrase, the "freshman wall"? Only time will tell. One thing is certain. The Gamecocks will not go far without greater productivity from the three.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- The number of blocked shots senior forward Sam Muldrow needed, through Feb. 6, to become the school's career leader in that category. He had 245 blocks, which included 75 this season. Brandon Wallace owns the record.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is the first time where we've felt like we've given the effort and the focus that we need, and the other team just made shots. For us to be in this spot with a win over Vanderbilt and a win over Florida and another road win against LSU, with this young team, we've got to keep grinding and keep coming back and getting better." -- South Carolina coach Darrin Horn.



--vs. Georgia, Feb. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: Forward Sam Muldrow, Damontre Harris and Malik Cooke will be key if the Gamecocks are to have any chance of defeating a Georgia team that is the most talented inside in the SEC.

FUTURES MARKET: After missing the entire preseason with an injured foot, sophomore guard Ramon Galloway lost a potential starting role and became the Gamecocks sixth man. The move by Darrin Horn appeared to work well, as Galloway gave the team a spark on both ends of the court off the bench. A lack of offense by freshman Brian Richardson forced Horn to insert Galloway into the starting lineup. He has thrived in his four games there, including the most recent against Vanderbilt when he led USC in scoring with 16 points. He is tied for second in team scoring with 10.8 points per game.


--Since breaking into the starting lineup, sophomore G Ramon Galloway was averaging 15 points and 4.3 rebounds in 27.3 minutes of action through Feb. 9. He scored team highs of 20 against Auburn and 16 against Vanderbilt. Galloway was projected as a starter prior to the season. An injured foot forced him to miss virtually all of the preseason workouts, however, relegating him to sixth-man status. His offense, combined with the slump of freshman Brian Richardson, led coach Darrin Horn to re-insert him into the lineup.

--Senior F Sam Muldrow has displayed leadership for the Gamecocks since SEC play started. His play down the stretch will be critical as USC attempts to remain in the thick of the SEC Eastern Division race. He scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots against the Gators earlier this year and will be depended upon to battle Georgia's tough inside attack on Feb. 12.

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