South Carolina Basketball: Keys to the Gamecocks winning the SEC Tournament

The SEC Tournament begins on Wednesday. How could South Carolina basketball bring home the trophy?
South Carolina basketball point guard Ta'Lon Cooper
South Carolina basketball point guard Ta'Lon Cooper / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball's Keys to Success in the SEC Tournament:
Limiting the big mistakes

All season, Lamont Paris' South Carolina basketball team has outperformed their talent level because they play smart basketball. Specifically, they don't commit turnovers, they don't foul, and they don't allow their opponents to get extra opportunities.

The Gamecocks ranked 2nd in the SEC this season in turnovers and 3rd in the conference in live-ball turnovers. They have only had three SEC games in which they've had more than 12 turnovers. Two of those games were losses (@ Alabama and @ Auburn), and the other was an overtime game. Clearly, the Gamecocks are at their best when they take care of the basketball. They are 12-1 in games in which they have 8 or fewer giveaways, and they are 17-1 in games in which they have 15 or more assists and 10 or fewer turnovers.

Carolina doesn't foul very often, either. With a 15-2 record in games in which they surrender 18 or fewer free throws, the Gamecocks rank in the top-3 in the SEC in both total personal fouls and in free throws allowed.

Extra possessions and free scoring opportunities aren't given away just from turnovers and fouls. Offensive rebounds lead to second chance points, but that isn't the case for Gamecock opponents. Despite ranking in the top-5 in field goal percentage defense (thus, there being a lot of missed shots in the game), USC surrenders the fewest offensive boards in the conference.

Avoiding the big mistakes that swing games has been the calling card of this team all year, and a run in the SEC Tourney will require the same type of smart basketball.