From down in Florida to up in New York, South Carolina’s basketball team has been everywhere this week.
The Gamecocks have the results to prove it.
The latter outcome served as the main topic for reporters Friday when they met with guards Frank Booker and Hassani Gravett in Colonial Life Arena.
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“It can really help us,” Booker said, “or it can hurt us. It can help us in a way where we come together and we talk about where we messed up, where we can learn from.
“Or we can sit and play the blame game. Us as leaders, me, Hassani, Chris (Silva) and Maik (Kotsar), we have to be the ones to make sure the blame game doesn’t happen at all, because that destroys teams. That’s a virus, we don’t want that.
“So, as of last night, we talked to each other, we made sure everybody was letting last night go and just go from here.”
Carolina next hosts Massachusetts (3-4) on Saturday. The 2 p.m. tipoff represents the Gamecocks’ first home game since Nov. 13.
Frank Martin’s bunch was last seen in Columbia beating Western Michigan by 18 points. What’s changed in five games and 19 days since? Not a whole lot.
Martin is still using his same starting lineup, the Gamecocks are still streaky shooters and Silva remains the offense’s centerpiece.
The 6-foot-9, 223-pound junior forward dominated the Panthers on Monday, scoring a career-high 26 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Afterward, Martin said of Silva: “Offensively, as he continues to have success like he had tonight, his confidence will continue to grow.”
But three days later, Silva came up small in the Big Apple. Temple crowded his space with multiple defenders, taking the Gamecocks out of their inside-out offensive preference. Silva finished with five points, nine rebounds and a team-high six turnovers in 28 minutes. Afterward, Martin called Silva’s performance “as bad a game he’s played since his freshman year.”
Naturally, it led to one of USC’s worst showings this season.
“We always want to try and get him in rhythm,” Gravett said of Silva. “I mean, he’s a returning post guy that can score the ball. And last night it was really difficult to get him going. And when he gets going, it usually opens it up for us.
“So it was just a tough night.”
The Gamecocks shot 37.9 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers. They were a season-worst minus-12 in the paint.
“It’s tough because Chris is a huge part of our offense,” Booker said. “When he’s not going, it makes it a little tougher on us, because they start guarding us a little more and more. When we go inside, it helps open up the shot more.
“It’s always tough, but we’re going to figure it out. Shots are gonna start falling.”
The last time USC laid an offensive egg – see the Illinois State clunker – it responded with a three-game winning streak in which it shot no worse than 45 percent from the field.
“(Saturday), we’re gonna see what kind of team we are, how we bounce back,” Booker said. “We saw it against Illinois State, how we bounced back against UTEP. But now that we’ve lost and have been on the road and things like that, are we gonna fold? Are we gonna make excuses? Are we tired?
“Or are we gonna buckle down and actually be ready for the next game and not have any excuses?”
Massachusetts (3-4) at USC (5-2)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
How to watch: WatchESPN/SEC Network Plus