The USC men’s basketball team did not get a lot of time to lick its wounds from Thursday’s 90-68 loss against Missouri.
The Gamecocks (13-15 overall, 3-12 in SEC) return to action Saturday night at Texas A&M in a battle of two teams reeling from recent events.
The Aggies (16-12, 6-9) lost Wednesday at Ole Miss after coming out on the short end of what, arguably, was one of the best games of the college basketball season — a four-overtime defeat at home against Tennessee.
USC also is on a two-game slide, dropping an overtime game at Georgia before tumbling against the Tigers.
“The disappointing thing is, we had been doing things good and we didn’t do them well (Thursday),” USC coach Frank Martin said after the Missouri game.
Specifically, the Gamecocks suffered an uncharacteristic breakdown on defense. In their first meeting with the Tigers in Missouri, the Gamecocks did a good job of keeping Missouri out of the paint.
The second part of the defensive strategy was to take away point guard Phil Pressey’s passing lanes and force him to shoot.
As a result of successfully doing both, USC led most of the way in the first meeting against Missouri before succumbing late, 71-65.
Thursday, Pressey went wherever he wanted to, didn’t take a shot and was in total control of the game with his drive-and-dish style.
Yet USC was in the game after a strong first half. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks didn’t carry over the effort at the offensive end and the defensive faults opened the floodgates for a blowout defeat.
“At their place, we came out aggressive,” said guard Damien Leonard, who led the Gamecocks with a career-high 20 points. “Tonight, they came out more aggressive in the second half. We stopped playing aggressive.”
USC returns home Wednesday for their home finale against Mississippi State.