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
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
3 of 3
Next

South Carolina Basketball vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Thumbs Down 1: Getting Worked on the Offensive Glass

As tough-minded as the Gamecocks are, they are not as big of a basketball team as one might expect. Other than Josh Gray (7'0" and 265 pounds), no player for USC is center-sized, and the primary non-Gray player who get minutes down low (Collin Murray-Boyles and BJ Mack) are 6'7" and 6'8", respectively.

Sometimes this lack of size can lead to issues rebounding. On Saturday, Carolina beat Vanderbilt on the boards (after losing in the 1st half), but they allowed the 'Dores too many 2nd chance opportunities. For the game, Vandy grabbed 11 offensive rebounds on 28 missed shots, meaning they rebounded almost 40% of their misses.

Thankfully for the Gamecocks, they were playing Vanderbilt and not a better offensive group. The Commodores only managed 6 points off of those 2nd chance opportunities.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Thumbs Down 2: Ball Pressure

South Carolina plays some of the best defense in the country, and their slow pace on offense makes things even harder on opponents once they get the ball back. However, the primary issue that has kept the Gamecocks from being the best defensive team in college basketball is the fact that they don't force turnovers.

Against Vanderbilt, Carolina forced just 6 turnovers from Jerry Stackhouse's team, and only 2 of them were live ball turnovers that resulted in steals. Because of USC's slow pace with the ball, live ball turnovers are some of the only opportunities the team has for transition buckets. With just 2 steals, it isn't a shock that Carolina finished this game with 0 fast break points.

It's hard to nitpick too much on the Gamecocks' defense this season (especially in SEC play), but not stealing the basketball is a "weakness" that could put the unit above every other defense in the country if it were to be fixed.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Thumbs Down 3: Guard Scoring

For a while now, Meechie Johnson has not been scoring the basketball like he did in the early parts of the season. Point guard Ta'Lon Cooper is not normally a major scoring threat (though, he really stepped up recently to lead the team in scoring multiple times, including both top-10 wins in January). However, the Gamecocks typically get a double-digit scoring effort from at least one of their two starting guards, and Jacobi Wright and Morris Ugusuk are shooting threats off of the bench.

On Saturday, though, the four true guards who played for Coach Paris scored just 14 total points on 6-16 shooting and 2-11 shooting from the perimeter. The team will need more from their guards on offense when Collin Murray-Boyles and BJ Mack don't combine for 49 points as they did against Vanderbilt.

The beautiful thing about the Gamecock guards, though, is that they impact the game even when they aren't scoring. Cooper, Johnson, Wright, and Ugusuk combined for a 15-2 assist-to-turnover ratio in the game and had just 4 total fouls in 88 combined minutes.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: A former Gamecock dominated and got a new NBA contract on the same night. South Carolina Basketball: A former Gamecock dominated and got a new NBA contract on the same night. dark