USC was walking the fine line between the NCAA Tournament and something else going into Tuesday night’s game in Columbia against Alabama. After losing 68-62, the Gamecocks may have put themselves in too deep of a hole to have much hope for making the tournament. With their fourth straight loss to the Crimson Tide, the Gamecocks fall to 14-14 overall and 9-6 in the SEC. They also fall out of fourth place, at least temporarily, a half-game behind Ole Miss which will host Tennessee Wednesday night.
The Gamecocks got off to a terrible offensive start making just four of their first 30 shots and fell behind 28-15. They finally got the offense in gear with a 14-3 run and went into the break down 31-25.
USC continued to play well in the second half making shots and getting stops and built a 54-49 lead with 7:15 to play on a three pointer by Tre Campbell. But the Gamecocks were playing without a key offensive weapon in AJ Lawson who went down with a rolled ankle after a drive to the basket with 8:24 to play. He limped off, with help, to the locker room and did not return.
Columbia native Tevin Mack hit a three-pointer to re-energize the Crimson Tide and bring them within two. A Hassani Gravett jumper was offset by back to back baskets by Riley Norris and Herbert Jones to tie the game. A Chris Silva free throw gave USC its last lead at 57-56. A 7-0 run put the Crimson Tide up 63-57 and the Gamecocks never got closer than three the rest of the way, and never had possession with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Silva had another big night for the Gamecocks with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Gravett added 12 off the bench and was the only other Gamecock in double figures.
USC plays next at Missouri on Saturday afternoon.
Frank Martin postgame press conference