The USC basketball players must have taken their coach’s scalding post game words following the loss to LSU to heart Saturday. The result was unchanged from the previous five games, USC still lost to Alabama 68-58, but the Gamecocks had some fight in them this time.
In a game in which they trailed in the first half 32-9, the Gamecocks did not quit and made the Crimson Tide sweat a little bit in the second half. USC pulled to within 35-24 at the break. The Gamecocks shaved a point off the lead over the first five minutes of the second half but the Crimson Tide hit another spurt to run the lead back to 16. The Gamecocks were not able to get closer than the final 10 point margin the rest of the way.
USC coach Frank Martin, despite the defeat, had a much more positive feeling about his team.
“At least we found a handful of guys that had a little enthusiasm for competing today,” Martin said in his post game press conference. “Like I told them in the locker room, in four of our last five games, we have been absolutely lifeless and [had] no interest in competing. I don’t think there is a greater joy in life than when you are given the opportunity to compete. People that don’t like to compete and I will never get along. I have never had to say this before, but in defeat I feel a little encouraged today. I have never – in 28 years – I’ve never said what I just said, but in defeat I feel a little encouraged today. After what we have done for the last three weeks I finally saw a little resolve from a group of guys – not all of them – from a group of guys. Hopefully that attitude maybe permeates to some of the other guys on our team so that they can reengage, because when we were engaged a month ago – we weren’t the greatest team in the world – but at least it was fun to coach. At least it was fun to take our product into other arenas and do what my teams have done for 28 years which is really compete and play as a unit. So with that said, I can’t believe I’m saying that I’m encouraged after a loss, but to a certain degree I am.”
Brenton Williams, who had seen little playing time off the bench in recent games, gave the Gamecocks a boost this time leading them with 14 points. He was one of four Gamecocks in double figures. Center Laimonas Chatkevicius had the best game of his young career with a career high 11 points and a career high tying 7 rebounds. Alabama’s Trevor Lacy led all scorers with 17 points.
USC falls to 12-13 and 2-10 in the SEC while Alabama improves to 17-8 and 9-3 in the SEC.
USC is back at home Wednesday night to face Ole Miss with tipoff at 7:00 PM.