South Carolina is reeling.
No one expected the men’s basketball team — with a brand-new head coach and new-look roster — to set the world on fire this season. But Lamont Paris’ team (5-6) is scuffling through its non-conference slate, dropping a second straight game this week and losing to ECU 64-56 at the Greenville Winter Invitational at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Much like the team’s loss at UAB on Wednesday night, the Gamecocks played catch-up for nearly the entirety of the game, trailing by 19 points at halftime after a turnover-marred first half.
The Gamecocks have just two more non-conference games before SEC play opens Jan. 3 at Vanderbilt.
Here’s what we learned from Saturday’s loss.
Much like against the Blazers, the Gamecocks got off to a sloppy start offensively, going scoreless in their first four possessions and calling a timeout.
ECU started the game on a 12-0 run, and Gamecocks didn’t score their first field goal until nearly 5:30 minutes into the contest.
Paris has lamented the team’s at-time careless passing early in the season, and it remained an issue against the Pirates. In the first half, the Gamecocks had as many turnovers as field goals (seven), routinely letting the shot clock tick deep into the possession — or chucking up a deep shot far too early.
The Pirates scored 16 points off of USC turnovers.
Big men falter
The Gamecocks have had little to no presence in the paint this season. In recent games, Paris has even opted to play three-guard lineups at times.
Saturday was more of the same for starting big man Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk and backup Josh Gray, who combined for no points and three rebounds in the first half before a slight uptick in production in the second.
The Gamecocks have made the easy look difficult this season, especially near the rim, where the Gamecocks were 8-for-15 on layups on Saturday.
GG Jackson produces on his birthday
The youngest player in the country, star freshman GG Jackson turned 18 years old on Saturday, and he celebrated by putting up yet another double-digit scoring game.
Jackson entered the game as USC’s leading scorer and rebounder with 17.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, respectively, and he’s shown little sign of slowing down from a scoring standpoint.
Jackson scored half of USC’s nine first-half points himself, and he finished with 13 for the game. The issue is that the rest of the team struggled to score with any consistency. The big three veteran core of Jackson, Hayden Brown and Meechie Johnson accounted for 41 of the team’s 56 points.
Next four USC MBB games
Thursday: vs. Western Kentucky, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
Dec. 30: vs. Eastern Michigan, 7 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)
Jan. 3: at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
Jan. 7: vs. Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. (SEC Network)