The South Carolina Gamecocks had a tough outing on the road today in Nashville as they lost to #24 ranked Vanderbilt 78-60. South Carolina had no answer for Vanderbilt in the second half as the Commodores outscored the Gamecocks 48-37 and shot the ball extrememly well. Vanderbilt got several double digit scoring performances from players like John Jenkins(18 points), Jeffery Taylor(17 points), and Festus Ezeli(17 points).
Bruce Ellington, the Gamecocks leading scorer at 14.5 points a game, was ineffective for most of the game and finished with 13 points. Most of those were late in the second half with Vandy up by doube digits. Ramon Galloway led the Gamecocks in the first half and finished as the leading scorer in this contest with 16 points. Malik Cooke provided some points off the bench as usual with 12 points and also pulled down 7 rebounds.
The key difference in the ball game was Vanderbilt's shooting from the 3-point line and free throws. Vanderbilt shot 11-20 from the 3-point line while the Gamecocks were 6-21. They also were 13-18 from the free throw line while the Gamecocks were 8-15. Both were huge advantage and gave Vanderbilt extra points that USC just couldn't overcome. USC applied good pressure defense at times and created some turnovers by pressing full court and some stingy man-to-man defense but it wasn't enough. They created 16 turnovers but these poor shooting numbers did the Gamecocks in this Saturday. They also contributed 15 turnovers themselves.
Vanderbilt has lost only once at home this season and the home court played in their favor. USC has played fairly well on the road at times but today was not one of them. The size advantage gave Vanderbilt an edge rebounding wise at 31-25. It's tough for any team to compete when their opponent shoots over 50% from the field and 55% from the 3-point line. South Carolina was sloppy and failied to come up with crucial stops all day long.
The loss drops the Gamecocks to 13-8 on the season and 4-4 in the SEC. This places them at the bottom of the division with Vanderbilt at 4-4. This season looked promising a short few weeks ago but with losses in 3 of the past 4 games by South Carolina it's derailed hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid. They obviously could win out or go on a big run here in the win column but a game like this coming in off some recent struggles was crucial to those hopes.
South Carolina returns to conference play Wednesday against Florida at the Colonial Life Arena at 8:00 pm. This will continue a tough stretch of games against SEC and will need some help from the fans if they hope to beat the Florida Gators.