Commentary: Basketball Heating Up
Kelley Leading The Way
"He can do it all." That was the headline after the Gamecocks and star point guard Tre Kelley came from behind to beat the Baylor Bears 64-59 in front of a rowdy Waco (TX) crowd when the Gamecocks last hit the floor on December 9. Trey Kelley stole the show with his 26 point night, that brought USC from eight points down with ten minutes left to pull out a critical five point road win. Seventeen of his points came in the second half, which included a barrage of timely, key shots and a few crucial three pointers. The Gamecocks, as a whole, looked solid through the first half and held a two point lead at the break, but USC looked overmatched in the paint with Baylor's two seven-footers. Still, the Gamecocks found a way to win with timely three pointers and, of course, Kelley doing it all.
Gray's Arrival Expected To Make Impact
USC hopes to receive a boost from newcomer Chad Gray, who joined the Gamecocks for the first time on Tuesday. A highly touted player coming out of high school, many are wondering if Gray could be the missing piece to this year's puzzle. Gray is a 6'7, 205 pound forward that can bring size to the thin Carolina lineup. Don't expect Gray to contribute too much in Wednesday night's game against Princeton, but with more practice time under his belt, USC hopes that he can help fill the gaping hole inside when SEC play starts in a little less than three weeks.
Gray will have five non-conference games to improve his conditioning, learn the system, and adjust to the college level before heading into the heart of the SEC schedule. The general consensus is that Gray will be a stud for the Gamecocks in the future, but only time will tell if he can produce this season. USC should improve their mark to 10-2 on the season before knocking gloves with #12 ranked Kansas on Jan 7. That contest will likely serve as a benchmark for the remainder of the season.
Questions Still Left To Be Answered
While the youth-filled Gamecocks are still searching for the consistency that elite teams play with on a nightly basis, they are making strides. Through the first month of the young basketball season, the Gamecocks have played about as well as expected, with the exception of the clobbering against Clemson and the loss to the Anteaters of UC-Irvine. The real question for this Gamecock squad remains unanswered. Can the athletic but small lineup that USC is playing make some noise in the SEC this year? With continued progress, it‘s possible. That's the best answer I have for this basketball team at this point.
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