USC fell into a big first half hole, nearly climbed all the way out of it in the second half, but then ran out of gas over the final minutes of the game in a 90-71 loss at 24th ranked Alabama. The loss snapped the Gamecocks’ four game winning streak and kept them in a tie for sixth in the SEC standings with Florida, LSU and Mississippi State.
The Crimson Tide hit the Gamecocks with a first half haymaker, forcing 15 turnovers and knocking down shots, and led by 23 at halftime. The Gamecocks got off the mat in the second half, cut down their turnovers, played better defense as Alabama missed their first nine shots, and made some shots.
The Gamecocks got to within six with eight minutes to play. But Jaden Shackelford hit back-to-back threes to stem the tide, and the Tide pulled away to their fifth win in their last six games.
Erik Stevenson led the Gamecocks with 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds. James Reese V added 14 points and Jeremaine Couisnard contributed 13 points.
The Gamecocks could not match Alabama’s quick striking offense. The Crimson Tide are among the national leaders in three pointers attempted and the number made, and Saturday they launched 33 and made 13. USC was 7 for 21.
Inside the USC big men managed just six rebounds, or one fewer than Alabama guard Keon Ellis. The Gamecocks were outscored by 10 in the paint, and their 19 turnovers were converted into 24 points.
USC is now 17-11 overall and 8-8 in the SEC. They will host Missouri Tuesday night then travel to Auburn next Saturday.