Frank Martin divided the blame among three parties following South Carolina’s 76-62 loss to Alabama on Tuesday.
The Crimson Tide, using a page from previous USC opponents this season, took advantage of long stretches where the Gamecocks couldn’t score and struggled to defend. Martin called them “crazy runs.”
Alabama increased its lead from seven to 23 in less than five minutes of Tuesday’s second half. The Tide made seven of its eight field goal attempts during that stretch while the Gamecocks missed all four of theirs.
“It’s been our downfall all year, we just let teams go on these crazy runs,” Martin said. “Part of that is inexperience, part of that is lack of leadership and then obviously another part of that goes on my shoulders.
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“We got to fix that problem or else you can’t win on the road in league play.”
South Carolina is now 10-6 and 1-3 in the SEC. It hasn’t won away from Colonial Life Arena since Nov. 27 at Florida International, dropping its last three opportunities. The Gamecocks play at Georgia on Saturday.
Some more takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:
Rare to see USC get that bullied inside
There was a definite theme to the starting lineup Avery Johnson debuted against USC. The Alabama coach surrounded his star 6-foot-3 point guard Collin Sexton with 6-7 Herbert Jones, 6-8 Braxton Key, 6-9 Donta Hall and 6-11 Daniel Giddens.
Johnson said the move was more about his team than it was the opponent, but the added size obviously gave the Gamecocks trouble.
USC, which likes to feature 6-9 Chris Silva and 6-10 Maik Kotsar offensively and defensively, was outscored 44-20 in the paint. The Gamecocks entered allowing just under 22 points in the paint a game. Alabama’s 44 are the most against USC since the Tide totaled the same in the four overtime game last February in Columbia.
Alabama on Tuesday made 68 percent of its 2-point shots. Carolina made 37 percent of its 2-point shots.
The Gamecocks were outscored by 14 points when Silva was on the floor. The junior fouled out with 6:46 left.
Gamecocks had a ‘crazy run’ of their own
On a night when it shot under 40 percent (35.8) for a sixth straight game, South Carolina didn’t miss for a five-minute stretch.
Kotsar, with a jumper at 8:38 mark, and Silva, with a layup at the 3:36 mark, bookended a Gamecock streak of seven consecutive makes. The run cut the Alabama advantage from 15 to eight points.
“At that time, we were just being aggressive and then making stops on defense,” said Wes Myers, who led USC with 15 points. “So that’s kind of what got us to easy baskets.”
Carolina then followed that hot streak by missing 13 of its next 16 attempts.
USC is now 13th in the 14-team SEC in field goal percentage.
Gravett wasn’t 100 percent in return
Hassani Gravett returned from a three-game absence for a sprained ankle and scored seven points in 15 minutes.
The junior point guard came off the bench for the first time this season as Myers started for a fourth straight game.
“Hassani’s our most experienced guard, so he gives us a guy that understands a little better and he gives us a guy that can make some shots,” Martin said. “And he did that.
“But as the game wore on, I just think conditioning and just mentally, he’s not 100 percent yet. It’s not fair for me to say he gave in for that moment because that’s not right, but he didn’t show the leadership to stand up and say, ‘Yo, we need to stop this right now. Let’s get good execution offensively, fix this on defense.’
“And that’s what we’re struggling for.”