The Daily Gamecock

Column: Men’s basketball will fall short of regular season SEC title

The race for the regular season title is basically down to three teams: Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina. Kentucky and Florida are both 11-2 in conference play, with Florida holding the tiebreaker currently, and South Carolina is one game back at 10-6.

On paper, South Carolina is right there in the thick of it for a chance to win the regular season title. The reality of the situation though is that the Gamecocks are on the wrong trajectory compared to the other two teams.

The Gators are currently on a seven-game winning streak and Kentucky is on a three-game winning streak. Meanwhile, South Carolina has struggled lately and posted a 3-2 record this month.

Three of those games were decided by four points or less, and twice in those three games the Gamecocks lost because for one reason or another they were not able to find a way to win a closely-contested game.

Things are not about to get easier for South Carolina either. They have to travel to tough road environments like  Nashville in Tennessee, Gainesville in Florida,and Oxford in Mississippi, as well as host young, dangerous teams in Mississippi State and Tennessee.

In addition to the tough remaining schedule, South Carolina continues to have zero offensive consistency from players not named Sindarius Thornwell. Key players like Duane Notice, PJ Dozier and Chris Silva disappear some nights.

For example, in the recent loss to Arkansas, Dozier and Notice shot a combined 9-22 from the field, and Chris Silva fouled out by grabbing an Arkansas player for seemingly no reason. Even in games that result in wins such as the one against Mississippi State, Dozier and Notice combined for 4-15 shooting for 13 points.

The team is also struggling to get points from its bench. In the last four games, the bench is averaging 9.5 points. In a quadruple overtime game against Alabama, the Gamecocks only got five points from their bench compared to Bama’s 56, and in a midweek loss to Arkansas the South Carolina bench was outscored 18-8.

Statistics like these show why the team has been struggling lately. If the Gamecocks continue these trends, then it is going to be nearly impossible to win the SEC regular season title, especially considering that Florida and Kentucky are starting to play their best basketball.