South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from Tennessee loss

South Carolina basketball fell to the Tennessee Volunteers after a fierce late-game comeback attempt.

South Carolina basketball wing Zach Davis defending Tennessee's Dalton Knecht
South Carolina basketball wing Zach Davis defending Tennessee's Dalton Knecht / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Down 1: Shot Selection

South Carolina basketball plays slowly on offense, but they take efficient shots most of the time. Not on Wednesday.

The Gamecocks played a lot of 1-on-1 basketball in the 1st half against Tennessee, and they also shot a lot of quick, long 3-pointers. Meechie Johnson was the only guard providing the usual drive and kick looks, and the Gamecocks weren't converting on their outside looks. BJ Mack and Collin Murray-Boyles played iso ball in the post too often as the Gamecocks weren't cutting or setting good screens to create open looks.

The 2nd half was a little better, but the percentage of shots falling didn't really change.

The shot selection also caused problems for the team by limiting their free throw attempts. Until Meechie Johnson intentionally drove into traffic to draw fouls and get his team into the bonus, Carolina had shot just twice from the line.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Down 2: Giving Up but Not Getting Cheap Points

The Gamecocks didn't get to the free throw line much at all against the Vols. After shooting 0 foul shots in the 1st half, USC finished the game with 10 free throw attempts. Those foul shots only came when Meechie Johnson got uber-aggressive and the whistle flipped from favoring Tennessee to favoring South Carolina.

They also gave up some really bad free throws to Tennessee. A fouled 3-point shooter, multiple fouls 30 feet from the basket, and late-clock bail-out fouls gave the Volunteers free points that they didn't earn. The 22 total free throws allowed wasn't a horrible number, but in a game in which the officials allowed a lot of contact, 22 foul shots was a lot.

Carolina allowed Tennessee to score 13 points in transition, which is a lot considering they scored just 66 for the game. In contrast, the Gamecocks had 5.

Out-of-bounds plays went in favor of USC in a major way the first time these two teams played, but the script flipped on Wednesday. Tennessee got several more free buckets off of baseline inbounds than South Carolina did.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Down 3: Substitutions/Rotations

The minutes distribution in this game wasn't ideal, especially in the 1st half. Some of this was Coach Paris' decision-making, but a lot of it was dictated by the players' performances.

Myles Stute, playing in a huge knee brace in his first game after an injury, played 21 minutes, including a number of them in which he was tasked with chasing around Dalton Knecht. Jacobi Wright had a tough night offensively and wasn't great defensively but had to play 29 minutes.

Zach Davis' struggles shooting (1-5) and difficulties working through the many screens Tennessee threw his way limited his minutes to just 18. It would have been best for the Gamecocks if he could have been on the floor more.

BJ Mack played an ineffective 25 minutes, and he was played off the floor defensively several times.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock signee named All-American. South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock signee named All-American. dark