College basketball in the 2015-2016 season can often be predicted simply by noticing who is at home and who is on the road. That’s especially true in the SEC, where teams are 22-62 on the road this season.
Even with that being said, what happened to South Carolina in Missouri on Tuesday night is tough to explain.
The Tigers defeated the Gamecocks 72-67, as Missouri’s defense did a number on South Carolina. Frank Martin’s group only shot 33 percent for the game and turned the ball over 13 times. Michael Carrera had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Duane Notice had 21 points himself, but no one else could muster up much in the way of a threat as the Gamecocks just looked lethargic over the course of the first 28 or so minutes.
Ryan Rosburg led the way for Missouri with 18 points, and Terrence Phillips — stepping into the lineup for recently suspended lead guard Wes Clark — had 15 points.
This was a pretty startling loss for a South Carolina group that came into this game still harboring a chance at winning the SEC title with a seemingly easy late schedule. Not only had this team bounced back well from losses this season, but it largely has played consistent basketball. Plus, you never expect a talented, Martin-coached team to come out as listless as this one did in the first half. A loss to Missouri, though, will make you rethink these things, and will also likely end the Gamecocks’ chances at an SEC crown. They’re now two games back in the loss column of both Kentucky and LSU.
The bubble is soft this year, but South Carolina does need to pull itself together here a bit late. The Gamecocks are currently 4-1 against top-50 teams, but three of those teams could easily fall outside of that threshold by the time the season ends. Plus, they also have four losses outside of the top 50, including two to teams with triple-digit KenPom rankings. Plus, they don’t really have a ton of margin for error down the stretch, either, as they play only one top-50 team (their next one against Florida) and four other teams in the 75-100 range. A couple of losses there, as well as a couple of losses from Tulsa and Clemson, could really put this resume in a bad place.
My guess is South Carolina gets into the NCAA tournament. But it has some work to do late to secure a bid.