Nothin' But Rhett: Basketball Analysis

Nothin' But Rhett is GamecockAnthem.com's weekly column by former USC basketball player Joe Rhett, where he will share his expert insight and analysis on the Gamecock basketball team. Read inside for Rhett's third column, as he analyzes USC's two huge home victories last week and takes a look ahead at this week's contests against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Wow, what a great week for Gamecock basketball fans - two impressive wins in different fashions. First I want to discuss the Florida win, which I think was not only one of the greatest moments in the Colonial Life Arena's history, but one of the best moments in Gamecock history period.

There are two reasons I feel the Gamecocks pulled out this last second win. The first thing is the fans. From the beginning the atmosphere was great, and the players fed off of that energy throughout, which kept them in the game mentally and physically. Playing in front of thousands of friends, family, and fans is the ultimate feeling. With everyone screaming and cheering like that, you feel like you can make every shot, jump higher than ever, and beat anyone that comes into your arena.

The second thing goes back to the Tennessee loss. Like I said before, there are no moral victories, but I saw a change in that game, a change in the players' mindset believing they can compete every night if they just fight and stick to the game plan. That last second play against Florida wasn't drawn up; it was just two players with confidence on the same level making a basketball play. So even though we're not giving Coach Horn credit for coming up with that play, he deserves some credit for allowing those guys to be relaxed on the basketball court and having the confidence to go out there and make what is almost a natural basketball play that worked out in our favor.

The Mississippi game was interesting to me. In the past after big wins like Florida, we have been known to come out flat and let games like that slip away. Coach Kennedy of Ole Miss came out with a great game plan in the first half, but due to a large amount of injuries this season, for the first time I saw the Gamecocks' constant defensive pressure take a toll on the opposing team.

Also, for the first time I saw the Gamecocks dominate on the offensive glass to a team that surprisingly may have been smaller than us on the front line. The emergence of Sam Muldrow has definitely been a plus; he has been attacking the offensive glass and finishing in the paint whenever he gets the opportunity. On the flip side of that, since Sam Muldrow's return, Mike Holmes' productivity and minutes have been reduced. These two guys are athletic enough to compete with anyone in the SEC. The best thing about having these guys in the lineup together is it allows Dominique Archie to move to his more natural position at the small forward. We all know that Archie doesn't like to bang inside; he's more of a slasher, adept at moving on the perimeter, cutting to the basket and spotting up for three's.

Gamecock fans, you have to admit that the first half of the season under Coach Horn is definitely going in the right direction - back to back wins in the SEC and close to surpassing our win total from last year already. Without having brought in any new players, I have to give credit to Coach Horn for bringing change to the culture at Carolina, a culture of believing that we can win. I believe the game of basketball is more mental than physical ability, but if you have that combo, it is a definite plus.

I'm going to predict a fairly easy win for the Gamecocks on Wednesday against the Vanderbilt Commodores, who have been struggling a bit so far this year. Saturday presents us with our toughest challenge, not only because it's Kentucky, but it is at Kentucky's Rupp Arena. Rupp Arena is one of the toughest arenas to play in across the entire country. With their loud crowds and constant full court pressure, our guards are going to have their hands full the entire game. But under Coach Horn's style of play, we may pull out another surprising victory. If we can minimize our turnovers and get some more assists, along with strong play inside by finishing around the basket, we will have a chance.

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