South Carolina won and is 3-0. P.J. Dozier hit a shot not too many players can hit to deliver a 70-69 overtime win over what should be an NCAA tournament team. The Gamecocks finished with three wins in five days and they put an exclamation point on it with a SportsCenter shot.
After the celebration died, though …
It was time for the real world to reappear.
“Bad offense. We did it in the first half, we did it in the second half,” coach Frank Martin said after the Monmouth win. “Then we just decided to act like practice is something that we never do, and throw the ball to the wrong people and have guys not know what we’re running.”
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Martin said the Gamecocks got lucky against the Hawks. Looking back how USC squandered leads of 17 and 16 points and the way they nearly gift-wrapped the game for Monmouth at the end of regulation, it’s tough to argue.
Some of the struggles could be blamed on playing three games in five days, the last against the toughest opponent of that stretch. “It was very tiring, but we prepared for it all preseason,” Sindarius Thornwell said. “It took a lot of focus and a lot of hard work the last couple of days to prepare for these games.”
Some of it could also be placed on young players. The Gamecocks built leads in each half with their starters, but when they were in foul trouble or took a seat to rest, the newer players slipped into freelance mode instead of running the system.
Had Monmouth not had an awful shooting night for the first 30 minutes, it’s a way different story. Some of that was USC’s defense, which was forcing the Hawks into rushed, long shots and denying entry lanes. But that defense was set up by good offense and being able to get back on D …
See how things get out of hand?
“We tried to play hard, we tried to guard, but offensively we were so selfish, so bad that it ruined our defensive approach today,” Martin said. “We came out of four timeouts today. And we did not even attempt to execute what we spoke about running during timeouts.”
The Gamecocks took a much-deserved day off Wednesday and got back to work Thursday. S.C. State, a team which just missed the NCAA tournament last year and whose best player is a Columbia native (Eric Eaves), visits Friday.
Think the Bulldogs watched the Monmouth film and are seeing an opportunity? USC will be better rested but there’s only one way to find out if Martin’s coaching sunk in.
“This team has one major flaw -- they don’t listen real well,” Martin said. “You’re not a good-listening team, you’re going to end up in bad spots.”
The Gamecocks avoided the worst kind of spot (a loss) Tuesday. Now to see if they heard Martin after Tuesday’s game and Thursday’s practice, and decided to listen.
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S.C. State (1-1) at South Carolina (3-0)
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia
TV: SEC Network Plus
Radio: 107.5 FM
S.C. State’s probable starters: G Eric Eaves 6-3 Sr. (14.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg); G Greg Mortimer 6-3 Sr. (16.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg); G JJ Richardson 6-2 Jr. (12.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg); F Tashombe Riley 6-7 Jr. (8.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg); F Ian Kinard 6-8 Fr. (2.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
South Carolina’s probable starters: G P.J. Dozier 6-6 So. (12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg); G Sindarius Thornwell 6-5 Sr. (20.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg); G Duane Notice 6-2 Sr. (12.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg); F Maik Kotsar 6-10 Fr. (4.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg); F Chris Silva 6-9 So. (10.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
Next game: South Carolina hosts Michigan at 5 p.m. Wednesday.