South Carolina Basketball was unable to come away with a big-time road victory over a top 10 opponent, falling to the Houston Cougars.
Saturday’s contest between South Carolina Basketball and the Houston Cougars was a physical one, as both teams battled for 40 minutes. After a shaky start, the Gamecocks finally got themselves together and tied the game at 10 with 13:26 left in the first half (after a Justin Minaya transition layup).
South Carolina secured their first lead of the game with 12:36 remaining in the first half, after Jalyn McCreary converted a layup, to put the Gamecocks up 12-10. Following J’Wan Roberts’ two made throws to put the Cougars up by 1 (after they trailed 12-11, as a result of Tramon Mark’s 1/2 free throw shooting), the Gamecocks managed to put together an 8-0 run, that helped them turn a 13-12 deficit, into a 20-13 lead.
The Gamecocks were able to stay in front of the Cougars for the rest of the half and go into halftime with a 35-31 advantage. When the second half commenced, the Cougars let the Gamecocks know that they were on a mission, by instantly elevating their level of play on both ends of the floor. By the 17:03 mark, South Carolina’s lead had evaporated, and from 15:45 to the conclusion of the game, the Gamecocks were forced to play from behind.
After falling behind 50-44 with 12:52 to play, South Carolina went on a mini 5-0 run, to cut the Cougars’ lead to 1. Unfortunately, that is as close as the Gamecocks were able to get, as the Cougars were finally able to pull away from the Gamecocks, and possess as large as a 16-point lead in the second half. Despite playing hard for the entirety of the game, Houston was just too much for South Carolina to handle, as the Gamecocks suffered a 77-67 defeat at the hands of the Cougars.
Although the Gamecocks did not get the result they were looking for on Saturday, they showed they could hang with one of the more polished teams in the country. Houston was without arguably their two best playmakers, in Marcus Sasser and Caleb Mills (who both have ankle injuries), but the Cougars demonstrated that they are capable of being an elite ball club, even when they are not on the floor.
With all of that being said, South Carolina has a long way to go, before they can think about punching their ticket, to the NCAA Tournament in March. In this article, I will be providing my three big takeaways from South Carolina’s 77-67 loss to Houston (which will serve as a learning lesson for the Gamecocks).