Frank Martin: ‘Trust’ was key for South Carolina to upset No. 14 Mississippi State
This weekend will feature the streaking South Carolina basketball team after all.
USC announced Saturday that the Gamecocks (7-7, 2-0 SEC) will tip with Missouri (9-4, 0-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Colonial Life Arena. This comes after Friday’s news that the game, originally set for Saturday, had to be postponed due to travel concerns for the Tigers.
A heavy winter storm hit the Midwest on Friday, causing issues in the Show Me State. The Kansas City Star reported MU was originally to fly out of Columbia (Mo.) Regional Airport, but had to change to Kansas City International Airport after an American Airlines flight from Dallas slid off the runway in Columbia, Mo., after landing. The plane was caught between both runways, causing the airport to shut down.
The Tigers didn’t leave Missouri until Saturday afternoon.
Tickets for the originally scheduled matchup will be honored Sunday. There will be no ticket refunds. Ticket vouchers distributed to those students who participated in the “Read With The Gamecocks” and “Martin’s Math Club” programs will also still be honored, USC announced.
The game will be streamed on SEC Network-Plus, accessed via ESPN3.com or the WatchESPN app.
The SEC office worked with both programs to make this happen. Without a contest this weekend, a makeup date would be hard to find as both the Gamecocks and Tigers have two games a week from now through March 9, the end of the regular season. The SEC Tournament begins March 13 in Nashville.
South Carolina enters Sunday on a season-best three-game winning streak after wins over North Greenville, Florida and No. 14 Mississippi State. Missouri’s six-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday with a 24-point loss to No. 3 Tennessee.
Who: Missouri (9-4 0-1 SEC) at South Carolina (7-7, 2-0)
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
TV: SEC Network-Plus, streamed via ESPN3.com or the WatchESPN app
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia area
Series: Missouri leads 5-4
Last meeting: Jan. 3, 2018 — Missouri 79, South Carolina 68
KenPom prediction: South Carolina 71, Missouri 68
1. Crowd watch
With a win, South Carolina improves to 3-0 in SEC play for the second time in three season. But will anyone be there to see it?
USC’s upset of No. 14 Mississippi State on Tuesday — a 9 p.m. tip — drew the worst crowd at CLA (8,776, announced) in three seasons. It was the least attended SEC game since Feb. 10, 2015, against Missouri (8,440).
“I hope our fans show up,” Carolina coach Frank Martin said Wednesday on 107.5 The Game. “Our guys need their help. They deserve to play in an arena where they come out for warm-ups and there’s a vibe, an energy in the building that make them feel good, that their efforts are being rewarded by fan support.”
Mizzou has only played one true road game this season, falling at Iowa State on Nov. 9.
Will the change in schedule impact attendance?
2. A clash of pace — again
Four of the slowest-paced teams in the country have now showed up on South Carolina’s schedule. The Gamecocks lost to Michigan (No. 325 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted tempo rankings) and Virginia (No. 353), but beat Florida (No. 331). Next up is Mizzou, No. 322.
It’s a storyline because Carolina plays differently than these teams. The Gamecocks enter Sunday No. 21 in adjusted tempo. That remains the quickest of any SEC team.
The Tigers haven’t reached 70 points in eight of their games. The Gamecocks have gone for 80-plus in six of theirs.
3. Defending the perimeter
Missouri didn’t miss much the last time it came to CLA. The Tigers hit 58 percent of their 3-pointers (14 of 24) en route to a comfortable win.
A year later, Mizzou enters posing a similar threat. It leads the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (39.1). The Tigers feature five players among the SEC’s top 30 in 3-point FG percentage, including starters Mark Smith, Kevin Puryear and Jordan Geist.
The Gamecocks are second-to-last in the SEC in defending the 3, allowing opponents to shoot 37 percent.
Coach: Cuonzo Martin (215-138 in 11 seasons overall; second season at Missouri — 29-17)
Projected starters: G Mark Smith (11.7 points per game), G Javon Pickett (7.1), G Jordan Geist (13.8), F Jeremiah Tilmon (10.2), F Kevin Puryear (9.2)
Last game: Lost to No. 3 Tennessee 87-63 on Tuesday at home
KenPom ranking: 88 (No. 117 in offense efficiency, No. 79 in defense efficiency)
Notes: The Tigers had won six straight before falling to Volunteers. Mizzou has now lost this season to Iowa State, Kansas State, Temple and the Vols. Its best win, according to KenPom, came Dec. 2 against Central Florida. ... Missouri lost Jontay Porter, a preseason second-team All-SEC pick, to a torn ACL and MCL in an October scrimmage. Porter scored 19 points, 15 coming from 3s, in the win over USC last year. ... The Tigers have out-rebounded 10 of their 13 opponents, but were minus-9 on the glass at UT.
Coach: Frank Martin (237-151 in 12 seasons overall; seventh season at USC — 120-97)
Projected starters: G Tre Campbell (5.6), G A.J. Lawson (12.7), F Keyshawn Bryant (9.1), F Chris Silva (12.8), F Maik Kotsar (9.6)
Last game: Beat Mississippi State 87-82 (OT) on Tuesday at home
KenPom ranking: 105 (No. 157 in offense efficiency, No. 73 in defense efficiency)
Notes: The Gamecocks have scored 80-plus points in six games this season. That happened just five times all of last season. ... Sixth man Hassani Gravett is four 3-pointers shy of reaching his most in a single season. The senior’s four steals shy of doing the same. ... In the a seven game stretch from Nov. 18 against George Washington to Dec. 22 against Clemson, Campbell scored a combined 27 points. He’s totaled 27 in the three games since, including 10 against Mississippi State.