South Carolina's biggest challenge against USC Upstate was supposed to be defending Atlantic Sun Conference scoring leader Torrey Craig, but it was senior forward Ricardo Glenn who helped the Spartans manhandle the Gamecocks, 74-68, in Colonial Life Arena Thursday afternoon.
The Gamecocks had no answer for Glenn, who scored a game-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds, and dished a game-high five assists. The 6-foot-8, 246-pounder, was nearly unstoppable down low as he helped the Spartans rack up 34 points in the paint to South Carolina's 26.
"Their big guy was a load for everyone but Mindaugas (Kacinas) to deal with," South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said after the game.
Glenn's presence under the basket led to several Gamecocks getting into foul trouble, as the senior got to the line for 11 free throws while only committing two fouls of his own. Glenn also blocked two shots and affected South Carolina's offensive approach inside, evidenced by one play when sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas took a pass under the basket from senior guard Brenton Williams, shied away from contact and flung up a prayer high above the rim.
Kacinas made the shot, but Martin wasn't pleased with what he had seen.
"Our bigs have got to play stronger," Martin said. "They've got to be stronger. They've got to create more of a tough - I mean, we can't throw the ball at one foot and have the guy shoot it over the backboard. That can't happen. I don't understand how that happens. We can't avoid fouls."
NOT ENOUGH TO WIN. Sindarius Thornwell had the best game of any Gamecock against the Spartans, racking up a team-high 19 points and three assists and crashing the boards for seven rebounds. Thornwell drained three three-point shots, but his 6-for-18 shooting was on par with the team's dreadful 33.3 percent night from the field.
Thornwell also turned the ball over a team-high five times.
NOT FOR A LACK OF EFFORT. Senior guard Bruce Ellington played like a man possessed, chasing down players in transition, hustling through every play on offense, volunteering his body to get crushed by charging offensive players, and outworking everyone else on the court.
Ellington also dished out two assists - both setting up fast-break layups by Tyrone Johnson - and recorded two steals and a block.
But after a game against Manhattan when he probably should have taken more shots, Ellington went cold against the Spartans, making just three of his 13 shots from the field.
CONTAINING CRAIG. The Gamecocks held USC Upstate senior guard Torrey Craig to 3-of-12 shooting, including an abysmal 1-for-6 mark from beyond the arc. Craig's 13 points and six rebounds against South Carolina were both below his season averages of 18.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, which are tops in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
SHAW ON THE BENCH. Freshman guard Jaylen Shaw played just three minutes in the game, while every other player that checked in logged at least 12. Shaw averages 13.0 minutes per game and generally provides an offensive spark off the bench, but notched just one assist and didn't take a shot before leaving the floor for good against the Spartans.
Shaw played 15 minutes and recorded one rebound and two assists against Manhattan in his last game, but turned the ball over twice.
MISSING CARRERA. Sophomore forward Michael Carrera was suspended for the game for his involvement in the postgame altercation following South Carolina's 86-68 loss to Manhattan Tuesday night. Martin said after the Manhattan game that he didn't see the incident, but that he would find out what happened.
FIRST LOSS. South Carolina's loss was its first in school history to USC Upstate, as the Gamecocks fell to a 3-1 all-time record against the Spartans. All four games have been played in Columbia.
SUPPORTING CAST. South Carolina played its matinee in front of a sparse crowd at Colonial Life Arena, with USC Upstate's bench often making more noise than everyone else in the arena combined. Save for during Cocky's t-shirt toss, the crowd almost never got louder than a golf clap. Several football players and coaches attended the game, including Steve Spurrier, Steve Spurrier Jr., Dylan Thompson, T.J. Holloman, K.J. Brent and David Williams.
UP NEXT. The Gamecocks will head to Honolulu, HI, for the 2013 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. South Carolina will face Saint Mary's in the opening round on Dec. 22 at 11 p.m. on ESPNU. The Gamecocks will play either Boise State or Hawaii in the event's second round.