South Carolina basketball: Gamecocks drop matchup versus LSU

The South Carolina basketball team dropped a close game to LSU.

South Carolina travelled to Baton Rouge this past weekend to play its first game in a week in a half. The Gamecocks were forced to postpone back-to-back contests due to COVID, and despite being able to get back on the court last Saturday, the effects of the Coronavirus were still seen.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin was unable to make the trip to Louisiana after contracting the virus for the second time. Assistant Bruce Shingler took over in Martin’s role, and he seemed to have the Gamecocks playing loose after the short hiatus.

The team jumped out to an early lead, taking a 38-34 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Gamecocks led by as many as 11 in that first period.

Unfortunately, the Tigers would go on a 16-4 run late in the second half to take control of the game, and pull out the victory. South Carolina led 72-64 with just under eight minutes remaining, but that run gave LSU new life, and they’d take a 80-76 lead that they’d not relinquish. The two teams traded baskets over the final minute of action, with the Tigers pulling out the 85-80 win.

Though South Carolina left with a loss, they had to feel good about its first road performance in conference play. Playing without a full lineup or a head coach, the Gamecocks went into one of the SEC’s tougher venues and nearly escaped with a win.

South Carolina controlled the game for the first 35 minutes of action, but were unable to seal the deal, which is obviously disappointing.

A bright spot in the matchup was the return of forward Keyshawn Bryant, who put up a season-high 26 points in his first game since December 5th. Bryant shot 10-of-18 from the field, pulled down seven boards, and led the team with four blocks.

Guard AJ Lawson also chipped in 22 points, his third straight outing of 20 points or more, and Justin Minaya tallied a second double-double in three tries.

For LSU, Cameron Thomas and Trendon Watford led the way, scoring 25 and 23, respectively. After getting off to a slow start, the Tigers connected on 6-of-10 three pointers in the second half, which allowed them to claw back into the game.

They also hit 15-of-17 second half free throws to seal the Gamecocks’ fate, and outshot South Carolina at the line nearly twofold. LSU his 24-0f-32 attempts from the charity stripe, while the Gamecocks hit 10-of-14 opportunities.

South Carolina will look to get back on track this Tuesday, when they face off against No. 17 Missouri. It will be a second straight road game.