South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

South Carolina basketball is 13-1 and 1-0 in the SEC after knocking off the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Colonial Life Arena on Saturday.

South Carolina basketball star Meechie Johnson alongside rising star freshman Collina Murray-Boyles
South Carolina basketball star Meechie Johnson alongside rising star freshman Collina Murray-Boyles / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Thumbs Down 1: BJ Mack

BJ Mack continues to struggle on offense. The big forward shot just 1-9 from the floor and made just 3 of his 6 free throws. He took several bad shots and didn't make his open looks, either. He has not scored in double-figures in his last five games, and he has shot better than 50% just once (a 3-3 game against Florida A&M) since December 1st.

To his credit, Mack had one of his better defensive games since joining the South Carolina basketball team this season, but the Gamecocks need him to be better on offense if they hope to contend for the NCAA Tournament.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Thumbs Down 2: No Scoring from Non-Meechie Guards

Pretty much all of the Gamecocks' scoring on Saturday came from Meechie Johnson and Carolina's wings and power forwards. The three guards who played (other than Johnson) really struggled to put the ball into the basket.

Ta'Lon Cooper (1-6), Jacobi Wright (1-4), and Morris Ugusuk (0-2) all couldn't get going as scorers. Cooper helped out the cause with 7 assists, but more points will be needed (especially from Cooper) as SEC play continues.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Thumbs Down 3: Free Throws and Turnovers

South Carolina has been one of the country's best teams at avoiding turnovers, and they've shot free throws better than they have in most recent seasons. Those trends did not continue against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

The Gamecocks shot under 70% from the line (18-26), including two clutch misses from Ta'Lon Cooper that could have iced the game. They also had 14 turnovers as a team. That isn't a horrible number, but it's worse than Carolina's season average, and those giveaways directly led to 11 points for the Bulldogs. The sloppiness should get better moving forward.

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