Going into Tuesday night’s game at Tennessee, USC coach Frank Martin said his guys would have to cut down on turnovers and fouls to have a chance to knock off the 22nd ranked Vols. They did neither and they lost 66-46. The Gamecocks committed 23 turnovers that led to 21 points, and they committed 20 fouls leading to 25 free throw attempts by UT. Fortunately for USC, the Vols only made 11 or the margin of defeat would have been greater.
Out of 350 teams, the Gamecocks were ranked 330th in turnovers per game and 332nd in fouls per game, so it came as no surprise that they struggled again in those categories against a quality team on the road. Plus, Tennessee is one of the top defensive teams in the country allowing 61 points per game, and that defense produced 11 steals, 4 blocks and held the Gamecocks to 35% shooting.
The game was actually tight through most of the first half and was tied at 22 with 1:49 to play. The Vols hit a pair of threes, including a buzzer-beater by Porter-Gaud product Josiah-Jordan James, to take a 30-24 lead into the break. The Vols outscored the Gamecocks 9-2 to open the second half as USC committed four turnovers in the first four minutes, and the lead was double digits the rest of the way.
The Gamecocks were outscored in the paint 28-16 and coach Frank Martin said his big men gave them nothing. He also was disappointed with the play of starting point-guard Jeremaine Couisnard and his “disposition”, and he sat him for all but four minutes of the second half. Couisnard had one point, three assists and four turnovers.
James Reese V was the only Gamecocks with any offensive game. He finished with 15 points on 6-11 shooting, and he grabbed five rebounds.
The Gamecocks drop to 10-5 overall and 1-2 in the SEC and are 0-3 versus Q1 teams this season. They will host Florida Saturday afternoon.