USC Men's Basketball

Depleted Gamecocks run out of gas, drop third straight game at Missouri

With injuries, the Gamecocks have team to step up and fill in gaps

Frank Martin, in a post-game press conference outlines what needs to be done to keep the Gamecocks in the game for the rest of the season.
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Frank Martin, in a post-game press conference outlines what needs to be done to keep the Gamecocks in the game for the rest of the season.

South Carolina’s third straight loss included the debut of walk-on freshman Nathan Nelson.

The Gamecocks — as depleted as ever — ran out of gas in a 78-63 loss to Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

USC dropped to 14-15 overall, 9-7 in the SEC and 0-1 without A.J. Lawson. The star freshman guard is out at least one more game after suffering a “severe low ankle sprain” on Tuesday against Alabama. It gave the Gamecocks nine available players against the Tigers (13-15, 4-12). With 9:03 left in the second half, Nelson checked in after Chris Silva picked up his fourth foul.

Carolina, down by as many as 13 in the second half, got within four after a Keyshawn Bryant dunk with 5:45 left. But it couldn’t get any closer. The Tigers closed the game on a 20-9 run as the Gamecocks made three field goals over the final 4:21.

“I didn’t think we played with the same energy defensively in the second half, within the (2-3) zone, that we played with the in the first half,” USC coach Frank Martin said in a radio interview with the Gamecock IMG Sports Network. “And that’s one of the things with A.J. Lawson, he’s an energy guy. A.J. brings an enthusiasm, an excitement, an energy, a competitiveness that for our basketball team is worth a lot more than the points and everything else that he does.”

Hassani Gravett led USC with 20 points while Bryant chipped in with 15. The Gamecocks made just three of their 14 3-point attempts. Missouri, which was led by Torrence Watson’s 20 points, shot 47 percent from the field.

Missouri, which lost to USC at Colonial Life Arena in January, went on an 8-0 run early in the second half to build a double-digit lead. South Carolina didn’t threaten much until a 6-0 spurt that was capped by Bryant’s slam.

That was USC’s last real burst. Silva (12 points, no rebounds) fouled out with 1:44 left.

“He played with no energy, no desire,” Martin said of Silva. “He was completely disconnected with what we were trying to do in the game. That’s very disappointing.”

Martin said Thursday that the Gamecocks were bringing “six and a half” scholarship players to Missouri. Lawson, joining fellow injured players T.J. Moss, Justin Minaya and Jason Cudd, was out, but Alanzo Frink (sprained ankle) was less than 100 percent.

USC conserved its early energy by siting in a 2-3 zone. The Tigers, who entered as the SEC’s fourth-best 3-point shooting team, made just three of 12 from beyond the arc in the first half. They also committed 10 turnovers, allowing Carolina to hang around.

The Gamecocks, despite a near five-minute scoring drought, only trailed by four at the break.

NEXT GAME

Who: South Carolina at Texas A&M

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Reed Arena in College Station, Texas

TV: SEC Network

Box score

MISSOURI 78, SOUTH CAROLINA 63

SOUTH CAROLINA (14-15)

Bryant 7-12 1-1 15, Silva 4-8 4-4 12, Haase 1-4 0-0 2, Campbell 1-6 3-4 5, Gravett 8-17 1-1 20, Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Kotsar 1-6 1-2 3, Frink 2-7 2-2 6. Totals 24-60 12-14 63.



MISSOURI (13-15)

Puryear 5-7 8-9 18, Tilmon 4-5 0-1 8, Pinson 0-1 0-0 0, Geist 4-11 7-8 15, Pickett 3-14 1-2 9, Mi.Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Santos 0-0 0-0 0, Nikko 4-4 0-0 8, Wolf 0-1 0-0 0, Watson 7-13 2-2 20, Suggs 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-57 18-22 78.



Halftime: Missouri 29-25. 3-Point Goals: South Carolina 3-14 (Gravett 3-7, Bryant 0-1, Silva 0-1, Frink 0-1, Haase 0-1, Campbell 0-3), Missouri 6-25 (Watson 4-9, Pickett 2-6, Pinson 0-1, Puryear 0-1, Suggs 0-1, Wolf 0-1, Geist 0-6). Fouled Out: Silva, Frink. Rebounds: South Carolina 21 (Bryant 7), Missouri 36 (Tilmon 8). Assists: South Carolina 8 (Gravett 3), Missouri 12 (Geist, Puryear, Pickett 3). Total Fouls: South Carolina 24, Missouri 17.

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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