South Carolina Basketball: Three thumbs up, three thumbs down vs. Florida

South Carolina basketball remained undefeated on Thursday with a win on the road against Florida.
South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall
South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley, despite no longer seeing her team voted as the unanimous #1 team in the nation, led her group to their first conference win on Thursday night, and the Gamecocks are now 13-0 and 1-0 in the SEC.

In a game against a scrappy Florida squad, the Gamecocks “lost” two quarters in a game for just the third time all season (the Duke and Utah games were the other). However, a strong open to both halves pushed USC to a comfortable 23-point victory on the road to open conference play.

A dominant post performance from the Gamecock bigs (21 points, 30 rebounds, and 7 blocks from Kamilla Cardoso, Ashlyn Watkins, and Chloe Kitts) and extremely efficient guard scoring (58 points on 22-34 shooting from Raven Johnson, Te-Hina Paopao, Bree Hall, and MiLaysia Fulwiley) were the driving forces behind the win. As a team, Carolina outrebounded Kelly Rae Finley’s team 51-38 and outshot UF 50% to 32,9%.

The Gamecocks also did a much better job at the free throw line than they have most of this season. Shooting less than 70% from the charity stripe on the year, South Carolina basketball went 13-15 on Thursday, good for 86.7%.

Florida’s success on second chance opportunities (15 points on 14 offensive rebounds) and at forcing turnovers (18 takeaways) allowed the blue and orange to keep the game somewhat closer than many expected.