MBB: Virginia pulls away in second half
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS MEN'S BASKETBALL
Same ranking, same outcome, different team. Eleven days after losing a hard-fought game to then-No. 5 Michigan, South Carolina dropped another tough game to now-No. 5 Virginia, 69-52.
The Gamecocks played the Cavaliers close in the first half, at one point battling back from a 10-point deficit to trail by a single point with less than four minutes to play. They trailed by seven at halftime, and got as close as four in the opening minutes of the second half. But every time the Gamecocks got close, Ty Jerome or Kyle Guy made a basket.
South Carolina was without injured starters Maik Kotsar (concussion) and T.J. Moss (ankle/foot), and played just eight players. As a result, fatigue caught up to South Carolina in the second half. Virginia’s vaunted pack-line defense, which entered the game allowing the second-fewest points in the country, and patient, deliberate offense force opponents to work for the entire shot clock on both ends of the court, and the mental fatigue was evident as Virginia pulled away.
South Carolina held Virginia to 39 percent shooting in the first half, but that ballooned to 50 percent in the second half as the Gamecocks were slow to rotate to open shooters. South Carolina also settled for quick shots on offense, taking the first available look instead of probing until it got a better shot, and that in turn hurt the defense.
“I’m disappointed in our ability to execute some stuff on offense that we practiced for two days,” Frank Martin said. “That comes with immaturity on our basketball team, but our guys really tried.”
Virginia was able to answer every South Carolina push, specifically Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy. In the first half, South Carolina cut the deficit to three, and Jerome made back-to-back layups as part of 11 straight points for Virginia. On two later occasions, South Carolina cut it to three and to one, each time Guy drained a three, part of his 18 points. In the second half, South Carolina pulled within four, and Jerome made a three, on his way to 25 points.
“They’re triple threat guys,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “They’re complete.”
“When they’re on offense, they just wait until one guy makes a mistake” Martin said. “As soon as that guy makes a mistake they attack you.”
Jerome’s three after the Gamecocks pulled within four led to a 17-4 run that put the Cavaliers in control. Chris Silva and Alanzo Frink did their best to keep the Gamecocks close, sparking a 6-0 run to pull within 10, but it was not enough. Silva finished with 11 points and six rebounds, while Frink had career-highs with nine points and eight rebounds.
“They picked on our freshmen in the second half, they put our freshmen on skates,” Martin said. “Our freshmen got discouraged. And when you get discouraged you break down. And when we broke down, they attacked.”
Tre Campbell and Felipe Haase replaced Moss and Kotsar, respectively, in the starting lineup. It was Haase’s first career start, and the seventh of the season for Campbell. Moss was on the bench, wearing a cast on his right leg. Kotsar was not on the bench, which is normal procedure with concussions. … Campbell finished with two points and two assists in 16 minutes. Haase three points and five rebounds in 28 minutes. … Evan Hinson had four points and a career-high five rebounds in 20 minutes, all after practicing with the football team Wednesday morning. … South Carolina drops to 4-6 on the season, and Virginia moves to 10-0. … Virginia, who averages just 8.3 turnovers per game, second fewest in the country, committed three turnovers in the first four minutes, and then just two the rest of the game. South Carolina protected the ball reasonably well, but committed 12 turnovers. … South Carolina outrebounded Virginia 37-33 despite an early 12-5 rebounding deficit. … Announced attendance was 12,291. … South Carolina’s next game is Saturday against Clemson.