South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from Gamecock win over Vanderbilt

South Carolina basketball knocked off the Vanderbilt Commodores to move to 21-3 (9-2) and retain their share of 1st place in the SEC.

South Carolina basketball freshman Collin Murray-Boyles dunking against Vanderbilt
South Carolina basketball freshman Collin Murray-Boyles dunking against Vanderbilt / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Thumbs Up 1: Collin Murray-Boyles (Again)

A "thumbs up" from the Ole Miss game is a repeat from Saturday's win.

The best freshman in college basketball on Saturday was a Gamecock. Collin Murray-Boyles was an animal against Vanderbilt, going off for 31 points on 14/17 shooting. If that weren't enough, he somehow grabbed 6 offensive rebounds and had a huge chase-down block on Vandy guard Ezra Manjon.

CMB was easily the best player on the floor in Colonial Life Arena on Saturday, and South Carolina basketball fans can only imagine how much better he could be had he started playing seriously more than a month and a half ago (he missed the beginning of the season with mononucleosis). While it seemed almost impossible given his late start, Murray-Boyles is playing his way onto the SEC All-Freshman team.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Thumbs Up 2: A Clean Game (Again)

Another "thumbs up" from beating Ole Miss translated to the Vanderbilt vicotry.

South Carolina basketball played a clean game against Vandy. With just 14 fouls, 7 turnovers (one coming purposefully at the end of the game when the score was out of reach), and 2 missed free throws, the Gamecocks did "the little things" that are needed to win games in the SEC.

USC also finished the game with a 21-7 assist-turnover ratio, won the rebounding battle 31-26, and got 71 of their 75 points in the paint, from the 3-point line, or on free throws. That is a ridiculously efficient shot selection for Coach Paris' team, and it was a continuation of the game plan he has had for his team all season.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Thumbs Up 3: Sticking with Open Shots

Many teams give up on shooting the ball from outside when shots aren't falling. The Gamecocks don't. Carolina shot 1-11 from the 3-point line in the 1st half against Vandy, but they went on to shoot 18 more times from outside in the 2nd half, canning 8 of those attempts. BJ Mack led the charge with a 4-6 perimeter shooting display after halftime, a bit of a bounce back from his 2-6 (1-3) 1st half.

Primarily run for Mack, the Gamecocks simply can't be prevented from getting open looks from the pick-and-pop game. When Ta'Lon Cooper or Meechie Johnson get a screen from Mack and take an arc dribble, the big man almost always finds himself wide open at the top of the key. The corners have been good to USC, as well, as Cooper and Johnson are excellent drive-and-kick players.

Against Vanderbilt, Mack, Zach Davis, and Myles Stute all hit a corner 3-ball, and a few other open corner passes resulted in lots of space inside for Collin Murray-Boyles after a secondary pass found the freshman down low.