The Gamecocks shooting was as frigid as the Columbia air, Saturday, as South Carolina’s offense faltered in a 71-63 loss to Florida at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks shot a chilly 35% from the floor and attempted just five free throws in the loss. South Carolina (10-6, 1-3) hasn’t been able to treat the home fans to an SEC win after a pair of tries this season, falling to Auburn in the conference opener and the Gators, Saturday.
Frank Martin’s squad had been plagued by turnover and foul issues for much of the season, but his club improved in both areas, Saturday. The Gamecocks turned it over just nine times, a marked improvement after averaging nearly 22 turnovers through their first three SEC games. But Martin was as incensed as ever following the game about his team’s guard play, “Right now, our point guard play is not good …. No connectivity with me on what we’re trying to do on offense.”
USC took a lead in the opening minute with a Keyshawn Bryant dunk but the Gators secured an advantage moments later and never relinquished it. Chico Carter, Jr. led USC with 12 points (5 of 9 shooting, 2 of 4 3-pointers) in just 15 minutes of court time. Erik Stevenson was the first Gamecock in double figures, securing his eighth, ninth and tenth points on a running 3-pointer with 2:41 left to play.
The Gamecocks knocked down a respectable 36% from beyond the arc but hit on just 18 of their 53 attempts (34%) inside the 3-point line, struggling to find clean looks against Florida’s 6’11” Colin Castleton (8 blocks). Gators transfer swingman Phlandrous Fleming, Jr. (Charleston Southern) scored 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting.
USC again struggled to produce from the line, attempting just five foul shots, converting three. South Carolina has knocked down just 57% of its free throws in four conference games.
Head football coach Shane Beamer drew the loudest cheers of the afternoon when he appeared at center court during halftime with a contingent of his team including Duke’s Mayo Bowl MVP Dakereon Joyner and incoming transfer running back Christian Beal-Smith (Wake Forest).
South Carolina will next take the court at Arkansas, Tuesday, for a 7 p.m. tip.