Let’s be clear — South Carolina did not lose due to rust, or the exam break.
South Carolina lost because Manhattan was the better team.
The Jaspers had a game plan and used it. They ran and ran and ran some more, forcing USC into anoff-balance defense that led to an attack of the rim and either two points, or a chance at two from the line. On defense, they flashed hands to the face, turned turnovers into baskets and never let USC get comfortable.
For the Gamecocks, it was the same story. They are incapable of playing 40-minute pressure or man-to-man defense, and their offense is inconsistent. Whatever seems to work in short bursts — a throw-in to Mindaugas Kacinas on the block, Sindarius Thornwell slashing to the rim — quickly becomes figured out and shut off.
The same plan becomes turnovers or deflected passes, and the Gamecocks trying to rediscover what they’re trying to do.
USC wants to play aggressive defense but is having trouble implementing it. The style of offense that seems best most teams — driving to the rim and getting to the free-throw line — is turning into blocked shots and missed free throws.
They’ll get better. They have to. There’s only one way to go from here.