Gamecocks MBB Defense One of Best in Nation


The South Carolina Gamecocks Men’s Basketball team picked up a big win Saturday with a 64-60 victory over the 9th ranked Iowa St Cyclones.  The win was the 7th in a row for the team, taking them to 9-3 on the season and earning them votes in the Top 25 for the first time in more than 5 seasons.  But this isn’t a Gamecock team that just ended up here with tip-in wins at the buzzer, or a couple of lucky wins here and there.  This is a team that had made a clear commitment to defense, as David Knight wrote about here over a month ago, and then figured out how to work together better to score as well.

This focus on defense not only meant 7 wins in a row, but 7 games in a row in which the Gamecocks held their opponent under 35% shooting from the floor.  This stretch included games against the high powered Oklahoma St., Clemson, and an Iowa State team that was shooting over 50% on the season before the game.  Against the #9 ranked Cyclones from Iowa St, the Gamecocks not only held them to 35% shooting from the field, they also held them to 1 of 18 from 3 point range.  Coming into the game Iowa St was considered one of the top 3 point teams in the country, ranking 18th in 3 pointers per game, but fell to 39th with just this one game.

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For the season, the Gamecocks are now ranked 4th in the nation out of 345 schools in field goal percentage allowed by their opponent at only 33.8% per game.  They are less than a half a percent from 2nd place, and only top ranked Kentucky is significantly better.  This is a staggering statistic, and come from the aggressive and smothering style of play from the defense, as seen in the featured picture for this article.  Let’s take a look at all the impressive stats from the Gamecocks after the first 12 games against those 345 schools:

StatOverall Rank
Field Goal % Allowed33.8%4
3 PT Field Goal % Allowed27.9%23
Points Allowed Per Game58.127
Rebounds Per Game41.59
Defensive Rebounds Per Game28.5810
Rebound Margin Per Game9.215
Blocks Per Game5.721
Steals Per Game8.342

The Gamecocks may not be a great team overall yet, but there is no denying that at this point in the season, they are one the great defenses in the nation.  As you can see, they are strong in just about every major defensive category, and it’s something for Frank Martin and the team to be proud of so far.  Of course, the strength of their schedule is just starting with the SEC conference games getting started this Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena against Florida and then three days later they travel to Ole Miss.  They’ll need this defense to stay this strong, especially with games against high scoring teams like Arkansas, LSU, and #1 ranked Kentucky.

This team may not be perfect, but they’ve found something to build around, a foundation, an identity perhaps, and to some extent that is the one thing that has been missing over the past few years.  Could make for an exciting year ahead for the men’s basketball team.