USC continued to hit some of the keys for a successful SEC run in its first league road games last week – a 57-47 loss at Alabama and 72-69 upset at Florida:
Improve rebounding: Check sorta. USC got pushed around inside against Alabama and grabbed 30 boards, the season’s second-lowest total. Then it was back to normal against Florida with 39 rebounds against the Gators, who were allowing opponents 30 a game and had allowed one foe to grab more than 33 boards.
Improve their shooting percentages: Check so-so. Alabama held South Carolina to a season-low 28.6 percent and then the Gamecocks went 44.3 percent on Florida. One concern: USC made 27 percent of its 3-point in the second half as the Gators came back to tie the game. Keep teams under 40 percent shooting: Half check. Both teams shot over 40 percent against USC, but Florida shot 26.7 percent in the first half that meant the difference in the game. The Gators needed to shoot 64.3 percent in the second half to reach 40 percent for the game.
Big Sam needs to show up: Check. No double-doubles but he had solid efforts around the basket – 14 rebounds and nine blocks. Yes, something better than a 1-for-11 night against Alabama would have been nice. He got 10 points against Florida, including a 3-pointer that sealed the game and new nickname from Ramon Galloway – “Big Shot.”
Ellington needs reduce turnovers and his improve shooting: Check and check. Four turnovers in two games rather than four a game works. And he traded 4-for-15 shooting at Alabama for 8-for-15 at Florida. That also works.
Beat East Division foes expected to make NCAAs: Check plus. 2-0 with a big road win.
Earn a winning record in the easier first half of conference schedule: Check. 2-1.
And a road upset could be a spark for an upcoming three-game home stand.
“We had a tough loss, and we knew we had to come back and fight and find ourselves defensively and rebounding,” USC guard Ramon Galloway said. “So it helps a lot to go back home to know you got a W on the road.”