South Carolina Basketball: Three thumbs up, three thumbs down in North Carolina win

South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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South Carolina Basketball
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley. Mandatory Credit: Stephane Mantey/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports /

South Carolina Basketball vs. North Carolina:
Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up. The Gamecocks played elite perimeter defense most of the night against the Tar Heels. Raven Johnson, Te-Hina Paopao, and Bree Hall held the Heels’ three best perimeter players to 17-49 shooting and forced them into 9 turnovers. When UNC got the ball inside, Kamilla Cardoso did Kamilla Cardoso things, swatting away 4 shots, including a massive one that resulted in the ball going out of bounds off of the lifeless body of Maria Gakdeng after she made the mistake of challenging the Brazilian post player.. . South Carolina Gamecocks. DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE

Thumbs Up. Something that has been a welcome revelation this season for Dawn Staley’s team is that the Gamecocks have been much more confident shooting the ball from outside. Raven Johnson and Bree Hall are much more willing shooters than last season, and the addition of Te-Hina Paopao has changed everything on the perimeter. On Thursday against North Carolina, Hall and Paopao combined to go 6-10 from outside, and Hall hit maybe the game’s biggest shot to go up 8 with 2 minutes to go.. . South Carolina Gamecocks. OUTSIDE SHOOTING

South Carolina Gamecocks. WINNING UGLY . Thumbs Up. South Carolina basketball has won 5 blowouts this season. Thursday was not a blowout. In fact, it was an ugly affair in which the Gamecocks were, at times, outplayed by their competition. Yet, the nation’s #1 team managed to fight through the struggles and pull off the victory. Playing poorly in several facets is not what any fan hopes to see, but the Gamecocks’ ability to “win anyway” shows the resiliency and toughness that has been synonymous with Dawn Staley basketball. This team has shown the ability to dominate, and now they’ve shown the ability to win when they aren’t dominating..