An undermanned Gamecocks (11-10, 2-7 SEC) squad went toe-to-toe with Arkansas (17-5, 6-3) Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena, ultimately falling 75-55. Injuries left the team with just nine healthy players, but the team fought through the adversity to take an early lead before fading in the second half to the fast-paced Hogs.
Both teams found their offense sputtering at times to start the half, with the Razorback opening with a 6-0 start after four missed field goals and four turnovers on its first six possessions for Carolina. The Gamecocks would answer back, though, as Arkansas would miss its next ten shots and went without a field goal for almost six minutes. Carolina went on a 10-0 run in that span to take their first lead of the night, with four apiece coming from Marcus Stroman and Mindaugas Kacinas.
They would lead by as much as six points before the Hogs went on an extended run of their own. Starting down 16-10, the home side outscored Carolina 18-3 in a span of five minutes to climb ahead 28-19. It would carry a 35-28 lead into the halftime break.
The first 20 minutes saw poor offensive numbers on both ends, with Arkansas hitting on 35 percent from the field and Carolina 32 percent. The biggest factor for the halftime deficit would be turnovers, with the Razorbacks owning a plus-nine margin in the category and outscoring the Gamecocks 13-0 in points off turnovers.
Foul trouble would cut into the already thin lineup, as Tyrone Johnson picked up three fouls within the first 90 seconds of action and sat with four fouls for most of the half. Stroman stepped up strong in the senior’s absence, putting together his best game of the conference season with ten points, six assists and four rebounds.
Sindarius Thornwell and Laimonas Chatkevicius also had to negotiate around three early fouls, and Thornwell had just 11 minutes of action before checking in with 16 minutes to play. He would be strong in his return to action, as he led the team with 10 points in the second half alone, but the Gamecocks made just two field goals in the final 11 minutes of the game and scored two points in the final six minutes as the Razorbacks cruised to the win.
After taking its biggest lead of the game, a 16-10 advantage with 8:48 to play in the first half, the Gamecocks were outscored 18-3 in a five minute span, giving Arkansas a lead it would never relinquish.
The Gamecocks committed 20 turnovers, matching a season high. That allowed Arkansas to play to its advantage, outscoring Carolina 21-1 on points off turnovers.
Sophomore guard Justin McKie did not play vs. Arkansas, he is still experiencing concussion related symptoms. Freshman guard Shamiek Sheppard did not play vs. Arkansas due to fluid on his right knee.
Sophomore forward Demetrius Henry did not play vs. Arkansas. He is engaging in the gradual return to activity protocol after suffering a concussion last week, but was not available for the game vs. the Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks finished with 71 field goal attempts, a season high by a Carolina opponent. The previous high was 65 by Oklahoma State, the Razorbacks reached 65 shots with more than six minutes to go in the game.
The Gamecocks attempted a season-high 24 3-point attempts, surpassing a previous high of 22 from the non-conference season. All eight players in the main rotation attempted at least one shot from deep in the game.
Tyrone Johnson played just 24 minutes Tuesday, his lowest since the Oklahoma State game on Dec. 6. His seven points marked just the third time in the last 12 games that he has not scored in double figures.
South Carolina travels to Vanderbilt on Saturday for a 4 p.m. ET matchup vs. the Commodores. The Gamecocks look for their first win in Nashville since March 2010. The teams met just once last season, with Carolina posting a 65-59 home victory in that contest. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on FSN.
Post game reaction from Frank Martin and company available here.