Another disappointing season of men’s basketball at South Carolina ended with a 70-59 loss to Mississippi State in the opening game of the SEC Tournament Wednesday night in Nashville. It’s been five years since the Gamecocks won a game at the SEC Tourney. It has been seven years since they made it past the second round.
The only good news for the long suffering USC basketball fans is that it’s over. Another one of many lost seasons is now in the books. It’s been bad for a long time now, and a lot of people have replaced their hope with apathy, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why Frank Martin didn’t have a chance this year. His team fought hard and deserves credit for not mailing it in this season, but you can’t win the Kentucky Derby with mules.
Mississippi State has had all sorts of problems with injuries and suspensions this but they still had more talent on the floor Wednesday night. The Bulldogs won two of three against USC and it took a career high 38 point night by Brenton Williams for the Gamecocks to pull out their win. Williams finished with six points Wednesday night. His record-setting game last week means little for the future other than to remind us what the definition of an outlier and aberration is.
Bruce Ellington led the Gamecocks with 13 points. Ellington is a solid player and a hard worker, but he’s not the type of guy you can build a wining SEC basketball team around. He would be a great asset on a team that had a few guys that were better than him on its roster. It says a lot when a guy that spends half the year catching footballs is the best player on your basketball team.
Ellington didn’t get much help Wednesday. Michael Carrera, an All-Freshman player and an example of what Martin can bring to the table in recruiting, finished with nine points and six rebounds. He missed some action when he took a blow to the head in the second half.
How bad was it for the Gamecocks against the Bulldogs? Well, walk-on Brian Steele led the team in rebounding with seven boards. Have you seen Brian Steele? Probably not because he didn’t touch the court much until the very end of the season.
Frank Martin’s team finished 14-18 this season and he probably should get a raise for finding a way to pull that many out. He did the best with what he had. He’s got some help on the way. Better days are ahead.
If you are brave enough to look, here’s the BOX SCORE.
And here’s what Frank Martin had to say after the game: