USC’s visit to Atlanta was short lived. The Gamecocks lost 66-55 to Ole Miss in the opening round of the SEC Tournament Thursday ending what has been a tough third season for coach Darrin Horn. The team finishes the season with a 14-16 record. They lost nine of their final ten games down the stretch.
It was the same old story in this one: USC struggled with its shot and gave up a lot of uncontested shots in the paint. The team shot just 29 percent from the floor, 26 percent from 3-point land. Meanwhile the Rebels scored 30 points in the paint, about half of which came on dunk shots.
USC opened the game with a three-pointer by Bruce Ellington and Lakeem Jackson scored on the next possession to give the Gamecocks a 5-0 lead. The Rebels answered with a 17-0 run and never relinquished the lead from there.
Ramon Galloway led the Gamecocks in scoring with 17 points. Sam Muldrow scored 12 points and blocked seven shots in his final game in a Carolina uniform. Bruce Ellington scored seven points.
Horn said after the game the turning point in the season was injury to Jackson in late January. Jackson injured his foot in an overtime win over Arkansas on January 22nd. The Gamecocks were 3-1 in league play after that game. After the injury they were 2-10. Ellington was also banged up at the end of the season.
Despite the injuries, it is still hard to argue this team did anything but regress as the season wore on. This has become an alarming trend in Darrin Horn’s first three years, his team’s fall off a cliff when it counts the most. The Gamecocks lost four of their final five in Horn’s first season in Columbia, they dropped seven of eight to end last year and nine of 10 to close this year. Horn has yet to win a game in the SEC Tournament.
It is pretty hard to call that progress.