Story by Brandon Alter
Three point shooting by USC, the ones the Gamecocks didn’t make, and the one they didn’t take, were a major part of their 81-78 loss to Alabama Tuesday night at the Colonial Life Arena. USC recovered some of its shooting prowess that went missing in Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State but continued to struggle from behind the three-point line. The Gamecocks came into the game shooting 35.5% from behind the arc, but shot just 6-25 (24%) while the Crimson Tide shot 12-34 (35%).
But it was the three-pointer the Gamecocks didn’t attempt that will have their fans mumbling to themselves the rest of the week. USC gave itself a chance for overtime down three with 16 seconds left. AJ Lawson missed a three, he was 5-13 from deep, but the Gamecocks retained possession on a jump ball.
Frank Martin called a timeout to draw up a play for a three point attempt, but puzzlingly Jermaine Couisnard inbounded the ball underneath to Justin Minaya who made a layup with two seconds to play.
Alabama hit a pair of free throws on the other end, and Keyshawn Bryant turned it over on the inbound pass to guarantee the Gamecocks’ sixth loss in their last eight games.
The first half opened with the teams trading a pair of runs. USC went on a 14-3 to take a 14-5 lead at the under-16 timeout. When Seventh Woods picked up his second foul, Alabama went on a15-3 run to tie the game at 18.
The teams would trade baskets the rest of the half. Alabama would pull ahead as the teams headed into the locker room with a 39-36. South Carolina was an abysmal 3-14 from deep in the first half alone, missing wide open shots. On the other end of the floor, the Gamecocks struggled to boxout Alabama who converted 11 offensive rebounds, matching their season average, into 14 second-chance points. They finished with 18 offensive rebounds.
The second half was back-and forth action. South Carolina took a 45-44 lead thanks to a Woods layup less than three minutes into the half, only for the Crimson Tide to take the lead back for good.
The game seemed to be getting out of reach when Alabama took its largest lead of eight, 78-70, with 3:37 left to play. The Gamecocks fought back holding Alabama without a field goal over the last 4:20.
The Gamecocks fall to 5-8 overall and 3-6 in the SEC. They will host Ole Miss Saturday afternoon and will try to avoid being swept in their three game homestand.