It is starting to look like it could be a long year for the USC basketball team. The Gamecocks lost to Baylor 85-74 Saturday night in Columbia. Carolina has now lost three of their past four games and are 2-5 without Dominique Archie(out for season with knee injury) and Mike Holmes (out since 11/27 with eye injury and dismissed from team Friday). A season that started with visions of the NCAA tournament is quickly turning into one that might not even end with an NIT bid. Yes, it is early, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Carolina is 8-5 and has a non-conference game with Longwood on Tuesday before they begin their SEC slate at Auburn next Saturday.
Baylor came into the game sporting a 10-1 record and fresh off a road win against Arkansas. They entered the game with a six game winning streak which is now extended to seven. The Bears were long, lean, athletic and outmatched the Gamecocks pretty much from wire to wire. Carolina scored the first basket and that is the only lead they had all game. They trailed by double digits a majority of the game.
USC took 83 shots to Baylor’s 57. The problem is the Gamecocks only made 29 of those 83 (34.9%) and the Bears shot 49% for the game. Baylor also went 11-17 on 3’s and made 18 of 24 free throws. The Gamecocks were 8-28 from the 3 and were just 8-20 from the free throw line.
Darrin Horn post game audio
You can give USC credit, they did play hard the entire game. The Gamecocks were down by as many as 16 in the second half and managed to close the gap to 9 points with less than a minute to play. They fought hard, battled and never gave up, but the bottom line is they are not the same team without Archie and Holmes. Without those two they are going to have problems with the Boston College and Baylor type teams. And with the exception of Georgia, every team in the SEC East is on the same level or better than the two aforementioned teams.
Devon Downey led the Gamecocks with 20 points. He needed 25 shots to get those 20 points. He is clearly trying to pick up the slack for the two missing starters. He only made 6 of those 25 shots, but if you are USC, you have to let Downey take as many shots as he needs because he is the only true scorer on the team.
Devon Downey post game interview
Freshman Lakeem Jackson is trying to become that number two guy the Gamecocks so desperately need. He had 19 points and could have had more if he could make a free throw. He was 1-9 from the charity stripe. Still, he is starting to find his role and looks more confident and aggressive than he did earlier in the season.
Lakeem Jackson post game interview
As I said earlier, there is still a lot of basketball left this season. Baylor coach Scott Drew said he thinks USC is going to be better than some of us think. He may be right and time will tell. I think we will get the answer sooner rather than later with Auburn, LSU, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Florida as the first five SEC games Carolina plays. If they can win three of those five they may have a chance. Anything less than two of those five could spell trouble. Their sixth SEC game is against Kentucky and I don’t think anyone expects the Gamecocks to be able to play with a top five team at this point. They still have to prove they can play with a top 30 team.