NOTEBOOK: Gamecocks win one, lose one

Following a stint in which four of five of his team's Southeastern Conference games were on the road -- the lone exception was against No. 1-ranked Kentucky -- South Carolina coach Darrin Horn was happy to return home for back-to-back league games against Georgia and LSU.

The Gamecocks got instant gratification in a 57-56 win over the Bulldogs but dropped a 68-58 decision to the Tigers.

With a Wednesday road game at highly regarded Vanderbilt next on the docket, USC must quickly regroup if it is to have any chance of finishing strong before the start of the SEC Tournament. Barring a strong finish the Gamecocks (10-16 overall, 2-10 SEC) appear destined to finish on the bottom of league standings.

Following the loss to LSU, Horn was particularly disappointed with the execution of his team. Biggest on his list of concerns was the Gamecocks' inability to rebound against both Georgia and LSU as the Bulldogs bested the Gamecocks 37-29 on the boards and the Tigers came out on top 36-23.

Both teams had double-digit offensive rebounds, a statistic that has favored Carolina much of the season.

"We've got to do things we can do," said Horn. "One of the things you look at is that we have been good at consistently, we're in the top three in offensive rebounds in the league. That's one of the things we do well and one of the things we stressed coming into the game. ... We just didn't do a good enough job of that. We did statistically shoot a little bit better but again, the bottom line is rebounding. That's an individual thing with guys going to get rebounds and that didn't happen."

The Gamecocks also continued to struggle in finding ways to score consistently, shooting 38.8 percent against Georgia and 42.6 percent against LSU.


--Freshman forward Anthony Gill, who played as well as anyone on the team during the first half of the season, has struggled through most of the second half. That led to USC coach Darrin Horn relegating him to the bench and putting sophomore R.J. Slawson in the starting lineup. The move has begun to pay dividends as Gill enters Wednesday's game against Vanderbilt following two of his best games in the last month. He scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds in 25 minutes against Georgia and nine points, four rebounds, a block, a steal and assist in 29 minutes against LSU. That will be important for the Gamecocks during the stretch run -- the team has always depended on a consistent contribution from him.

--The Gamecocks came into the week having dropped 10 of their last 12 games and 19 of their last 22 Southeastern Conference games. The team is a shocking 3-10 in Colonial Life Arena during the period. Crowds have been sparse throughout the season with Kentucky and Ohio State fans actually outnumbering USC fans in the Gamecocks' own building. That probably won't change in the final two home games of the season -- students appear to have turned their focus to the back-to-back national champion baseball team.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1,011/17 -- Senior Malik Cooke has not only been South Carolina's top scorer, he's been the team's leader on and off the court throughout the season. With a 17-point performance against LSU he surpassed the 1,000-point career total. He has 1,011 points as a collegian. That includes 407 points scored in two years at the University of Nevada.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "(Bruce) Ellington is a disruptive force on defense. Everything they do revolves around him. I hope he hurries up and goes the NFL because I am sick of seeing him." -- LSU coach Trent Johnson on USC sophomore point guard Bruce Ellington, who is also a wide receiver on the Gamecock football team.



--at Vanderbilt, Feb. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The beauty of Vanderbilt has always been its ability to marry outstanding outside shooters with consistent inside play on offense. That has given South Carolina fits in recent years. That was the case in the first game between the teams as guards John Jenkins, Brad Tinsly and Jeffery Taylor combined for 38 points, while center Lance Goulbourne had eight points and 10 rebounds in a 67-57 Commodore win in Columbia. Since that time, however, USC sophomore center Damontre Harris has picked up his play and is one of the top shot blockers in the SEC. He will have to show up for the Gamecocks to have a shot at victory.

--vs. Tennessee, Feb. 25
KEY MATCHUPS: The Gamecocks gave Tennessee all it could handle in Knoxville before falling 69-57 earlier in the season. Skylar McBee was the difference for the Vols, scoring a game-high 18 points. He and Trae Golden locked up the game down the stretch by making 13 of 14 free throws. The Gamecocks did force 14 turnovers in the game and must improve on that to have an opportunity to win.


--Sophomore Brenton Williams continues to give South Carolina solid performances off the bench. He has managed to be both a consistent outside shooting threat and an additional ballhandler. While he has been more effective at the two guard slot playing beside point guard Bruce Ellington, Williams has also managed to give him short breaks as well. He came off the bench to score 10 points in the team's win against Georgia.

--After being relegated to the bench recently, junior Lakeem Jackson played 11 minutes in the Gamecocks' win over Georgia, pulling down three rebounds and picking up a steal. He played 19 minutes in the team's loss to LSU and had three points, one rebound, one steal and two assists.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories