Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gamecocks Slow Start Ends In USC Blowout

After an extremely slow start for the up tempo Gamecocks, the USC basketball squad recorded a 90-66 victory over Georgia Southern on Monday night.  Dominique Archie produced 18 points as South Carolina pulled away in the second half.  Devan Downey added 14 points, with Brandis Raley-Ross scoring 13 and Mike Holmes contributing 12 for the Gamecocks now 2-0 on the early season.

After trailing by as many as 7 points in the first half , South Carolina took control late in the final minutes of the first half to take a 43-36 lead at the break on a 9-2 run, scoring the final 5 points of the half.  The Gamecocks would use a 16-0 run, in the first 5 minutes to start the second half to basically blow the game open against the Eagles (1-1), coached by Charlton Young, a former Georgia Southern All Conference Player, now in his first year as a head coach.  Picked to finish 6th in the Southern Conference, the Eagles looked like a conference contender early in the game, hitting key baskets early and pounding the glass for second chance points against the larger South Carolina team. 

Coach Darrin Horn was extremely calm and cool throughout his teams early struggles, issuing very deliberate instructions while showing no signs of anxiety over the early struggles.  Horn used various player combinations until players starting executing and began to both protect the defensive glass, while adding intensity and extra effort for loose balls and generating turnovers.  At one point the USC players appeared to relax and allowed the Eagles to slip within 11 points before extending another run that basically pushed the game into the laughter status. 

This game of runs and fun saw the athleticism of Archie (3-pointer), Holmes (4) and LaKeem Jackson (5) scored 12 of the 16 points in the early second half run.

Ben Drayton scored 15 and Willie Powers scored 14 to pace the Eagles, who saw their coach issuing enthusiastic, sometimes very animated instructions and gestures throughout the ballgame.  It was clear that Young was preparing his team for a optimistic season in the Southern Conference, never offering a moment for the team to concede a game decided early in the second half.  [final stats]

Coach Horn could be pleased to watch his team play through an early slump to take control of the game through aggressive defense, floor communication and improved shot selection in the half court and during transitions.  Another good test for the Cocks who placed several players on the court early to gain the much needed major college arena experience.  In this case, to experience a little adversity and participate in playing through it.  Another win for the intangibles of the game of basketball. 

The only concern continues to be the perimeter shooting from players other than Archie and Downey.  The season has not yet offered a consistent performer in this area.  Looking for Ross to try and fill that void from the regular player rotation.

Next for the Gamecocks, the LaSalle Explorers, in the Charleston Classic Thursday night.  LaSalle will offer another test, with more obstacles and the first road game for the newcomers on this team, along with the tournament format that will offer back to back game nights to examine the stamina of this unit.

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