Conway was not kind to Frank Martin’s Gamecocks on Wednesday night.
In its first true road test of the season, the South Carolina men’s basketball team couldn’t keep pace with host Coastal Carolina. Riding a four-game winning streak, the Gamecocks (5-2) trailed for the majority of the contest, falling to Cliff Ellis’ Chanticleers 80-56.
The trip to Conway was the first road game for the Gamecocks, who went 1-1 in the neutral-site Asheville Championship earlier in the season. With the win, Coastal moved to 3-2 on the season.
Here’s what went wrong for the Gamecocks.
A sluggish start to both halves
Much like USC’s Sunday win over Rider in Columbia, the Gamecocks looked out of sorts early on both ends of the court.
Sloppiness on the offensive end, combined with lackluster transition defense, allowed the Chanticleers to put up points in a hurry on the fastbreak. Coastal scored 11 fastbreak points in the first half, made eight of their first 16 field-goal attempts and led by as many as 13 points.
The Gamecocks had seemingly righted the ship by halftime, tightening up defensively and tying the score late in the half on an Erik Stevenson 3-pointer and trailing just 36-35.
But the Gamecocks came out of halftime scuffling yet again. The Chanticleers went on a whopping 24-4 run to open the half, with the Gamecocks making just one of their first 14 field-goal attempts. That run proved too much for USC to overcome.
Gamecocks miss Couisnard
Junior Jermaine Couisnard started the first six games at point guard and came into the night leading all starters with 13.5 points per contest. However, a groin injury suffered late in the win over Rider kept Couisnard out of the lineup Wednesday.
His loss was felt.
In Couisnard’s stead, freshman Jacobi Wright made his first career start and split time at the point with transfer Chico Carter Jr.
Martin has praised Wright for how advanced he is defensively as a freshman, and while he’s been in sync with the offense, Martin has said Wright has been a little too tentative at times. From a points standpoint, Wright held his own, scoring 11, but the offense as a whole seemed out of sync for most of the night, struggling to create open looks against CCU’s zone defense.
It was another poor shooting night for the Gamecocks, who made just 20 of 70 field-goal attempts (29%) and shot just 23% from the perimeter.
Coastal wins the battle in the paint
The Gamecocks have been searching for the right answers in a new-look frontcourt all season, especially at the power forward position.
They’re still searching.
Starting center Wildens Leveque committed two early fouls and played just seven minutes in the first half. Meanwhile, starting power forward A.J. Wilson went just 1 for 10 from the field.
Martin shuffled through his big men, with freshman Ta’Quan Woodley, transfer Josh Gray and returner Tre-Vaughn Minott each seeing time. But none of those forwards could consistently finish at the rim, and even worse, they lost the rebounding battle to Coastal Carolina 49-38.
The Chanticleers also outscored the Gamecocks in the paint 32-18.
Next USC men’s basketball game
Who: South Carolina vs. Georgetown
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Colonial Life Arena in Columbia
Watch: SEC Network