The college basketball season is winding down and barring a miraculous run in the SEC tournament, South Carolina won’t make the postseason.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to play for. As Lamont Paris wraps up his first year as head coach, he’s looking to see growth in his players — positive steps that the program can take into next season.
On Saturday at LSU, the Gamecocks showed their potential. Even GG Jackson — fresh off his worst game and lowest point of the season — contributed in a major way.
Facing a struggling Tigers team (12-15, 1-13 SEC), the Gamecocks (10-17, 3-11) led for the entirety of the contest, defeating LSU 82-73.
The win was just USC’s third in league play. All three have come on the road.
Jackson starts, Carter sits with injury
Jackson hadn’t started the last three games after he complained about not getting the ball on a live Instagram video. In the team’s loss to Vanderbilt on Tuesday, Jackson played just four minutes in the second half and was visibly frustrated on the sideline, untucking his jersey and standing apart from his teammates when they huddled.
But with Chico Carter Jr. sitting Saturday due to a lingering knee tendinitis issue, Paris re-inserted Jackson into the starting lineup, and the 18-year-old freshman delivered.
Jackson set the tone immediately by making back-to-back 3-pointers in the game’s opening minutes to give the Gamecocks a 6-0 lead. He finished the game tied with a team-high 20 points, bouncing back in a big way from his season low point earlier in the week.
USC sizzles beyond the arc
The Gamecocks like to shoot 3-pointers. There’s no mistaking it. There have been games where a reliance on deep shots has hindered USC, but that wasn’t the case Saturday.
Against LSU’s 1-3-1 zone, USC let it fly frequently from beyond the arc, and the Gamecocks set a season high with 15 3-pointers on 32 attempts (47%).
The trio of Jackson and guards Meechie Johnson and Jacobi Wright supplied most of those 3’s. Johnson and Wright led the pack with five, and Jackson added four of his own.
In general, the Gamecocks looked like a more united group offensively, tallying 20 assists as a team to create those open looks.
Next four USC MBB games
Wednesday: Alabama, 9 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPNU)
Feb. 25: at Tennessee, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)
Feb. 28: at Mississippi State, 9 p.m. (SEC Network)
March 4: Georgia, 1 p.m. (SEC Network)