So long, losing streak.
After tying the school record for most conference losses to start a season (six), South Carolina destroyed visiting Texas A&M tonight, 80-52. It’s the first time in more than a decade that USC has beaten a fellow SEC team by that many points. The Gamecocks are now 8-12 overall and 1-6 in conference play, while the Aggies are 12-8 overall and 3-6 in the SEC.
The Cocks got hot early and were on fire all game long, with everyone contributing both offensively and defensively. They held a double digit lead for the majority of the game, and were up by as many as 30 points in the second half.
A pair of freshman, Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell, each had 19 points (a career high for Notice). Brent Williams tallied 18, and Laimonas Chatkevicius added 12 (also a career high). There were no Texas A&M players in double figures. Carolina shot 52.2 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range, while the Aggies shot 35.6 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
And as opposed to previous games, where the defensive strategy seemed to be just to foul anyone on the other team, the guys made smart, well-executed plays tonight, which was refreshing. They kept the visitors away from the charity stripe, too, committing just 19 fouls.
For all of the mistakes, struggles, and simply bad basketball the team has played at times, it was encouraging – and fun – to see them dominate on both sides of the ball tonight. Granted, Texas A&M is going through a rough stretch, but still. A win is a win, and this was a huge one. Now, of course, the Gamecocks need to keep it rolling. I kind of doubt they’re going to get blowout victories for the rest of the season, but it doesn’t matter how many points they win by as long as they win.
After a tough loss to the Aggies in College Station, Williams said after the game that tonight’s victory gives the team confidence going forward. Their next opponent, Ole Miss, was the winner the first time the two squads met, so hopefully South Carolina can split that series, too.
The game against the Rebels in Oxford is set to tip off at 1:30 on Saturday. It will be televised regionally and will also be available on ESPN3.