It might have been Valentine’s night, but things didn’t come up roses for the South Carolina men’s basketball team.
The Gamecocks got off to a slow start and were dominated on the glass in dropping a 75-64 decision to Vanderbilt Tuesday night at the Colonial Life Arena. The loss broke a five-game home winning streak against the Commodores and ran USC’s streak to seven straight home losses, all coming in SEC play. South Carolina’s last win at home came December 30, 2022, against Eastern Michigan.
It was the fourth straight win for Vanderbilt (14-12, 7-6), the first-time they’ve accomplished that feat in the SEC since February 2017. The win also gave the Commodores the season-sweep of the Gamecocks, the first time that’s happened since 2013.
Jacobi Wright scored the first basket of the game, but Vanderbilt went on a 15-0 run to take control. South Carolina (9-16, 2-11) never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Liam Robbins, who finished with 24 points for the Commodores, knocked down a 3-pointer just before the first half buzzer to give the visitors a 38-18 lead at the half. Robbins was coming off a career-high 32 points in a win at Florida.
Vanderbilt held the rebounding edge 30-15 at that point and was more active around the basket. They had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half. It ended up being 48-34 rebounding edge which led to a 22-11 cushion on second chance points. The Commodores weren’t whistled for a foul in the opening 20 minutes.
“They didn’t shoot the ball great in the first half, but the problem was they had a lot more shots due to offensive rebounds,” USC coach Lamont Paris said. “We played a poor first half.”
Hayden Brown, who had 11 points and seven rebounds, said the rebound aspect was disappointing.
“A lot of it is effort and will and we didn’t show a bunch of that, collectively,” Brown said.
South Carolina trimmed the lead to nine points, 73-64, with 34 seconds remaining on a long 3-pointer from Meechie Johnson but could never draw any closer.
Johnson led the Gamecocks with 19 points, with all of them coming in the second half. Chico Carter scored 15 points and Hayden Brown chipped in 11 for the Gamecocks. Josh Gray had 12 rebounds but scored just two points.
GG Jackson continued to struggle since being removed from the starting lineup three game ago. The heralded freshman played 16 minutes and scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting that included 0-of-6 from beyond the 3-point line. The Gamecocks were -31 on the +/- scale for the 16 minutes he played.
“I will always play the guys that I think has the best chance to win the game,” Paris said. “Usually that comes down to how you’re performing.”
Next Game: South Carolina plays at LSU on Saturday at 1 pm on the SECN. They return home next Wednesday night to face current No. 1 Alabama in a 9 pm tip on ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU.
Story by Chris Dearing