South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from Elite Eight win over OSU

South Carolina basketball outlasted Oregon State in a physical Elite Eight battle, earning yet another trip to the Final Four.

South Carolina basketball forward Ashlyn Watkins "stealing" a block opportunity from guard MiLaysia Fulwiley in the Gamecocks' win over the Oregon State Beavers
South Carolina basketball forward Ashlyn Watkins "stealing" a block opportunity from guard MiLaysia Fulwiley in the Gamecocks' win over the Oregon State Beavers / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Oregon State Beavers
Thumbs Down 1: Offense

The Gamecocks were not very good on offense (by their standard) on Sunday. USC shot 33.3% from the field and 20% from the perimeter and had just 12 assists on their 26 made shots.

Te-Hina Paopao and Chloe Kitts struggled to put the ball in the basket, combining to go 2-15 from the field for just 7 total points. The whole team shot just 7-17 on layups in the 1st half. That number was good enough to move to over 50% for the game, but only barely. That's not good enough.

When the Gamecocks needed to score, it seemed like strong individual efforts were the only way they could do so as most of their buckets came unassisted or on assists that stemmed from one player putting in most of the work.

The Gamecocks' team offense must improve before playing a strong defensive team like NC State on Friday.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Oregon State Beavers
Thumbs down 2: Long Stretches without Key Players

There were several extended periods of play in which the Gamecocks did not have key players on the floor. MiLaysia Fulwiley was pulled by Coach Staley for some defensive lapses off the ball, and Kamilla Cardoso only played 10 minutes in the 1st half. Raven Johnson had to sit more than Gamecock fans would have liked due to early foul trouble, and ineffectiveness from Chloe Kitts moved the starter to the bench after just 15 minutes of play.

With the margin for error growing ever smaller, South Carolina needs its players operating at a high enough level that they can be put on the floor at any time. Key players sitting for long stretches should only happen because another player gets hot, not because of poor execution.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Oregon State Beavers
Thumbs Down 3: Contesting Jump Shots

For the second game in a row, South Carolina basketball did not do a great job of contesting jump shots. Against Indiana, it almost cost USC the game as the perimeter defense allowed the Hoosiers to get off a ton of outside shots. Against Oregon State, the Gamecock guards locked in and prevented OSU from taking many shots from behind the arc after halftime, allowing them to keep the Beavers at arm's length.

However, Oregon State was able to take far too many comfortable jump shots when they were available. On several instances, Carolina defenders did not even have their hands up as Lily Hansford or Timea Gardiner shot the ball. Ball-screen defense wasn't great at times, either, as the Gamecocks went under several screens that resulted in easy shot opportunities.

USC's bigs locked down the paint for most of the night (allowing just 14 points in the lane to a good Oregon State low-post attack), but they did not get out to stop the midrange very well. Oregon State picked up 10 points from middies as the Gamecocks simply left shooters open too many times. Ashlyn Watkins was excellent on closeouts from the post, but the other Carolina post players were not.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks put two on All-Regional team. South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks put two on All-Regional team. dark