South Carolina men’s basketball (10-9, 5-1 SEC) fell to the Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-11, 2-5 Big 12) 74-70 on the road in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.
The game featured a lot of lead changes, as it went back and forth in the second half.
The major factor was the free throw differential. Oklahoma State shot a total of 29 free throws, while South Carolina only shot 9.
“We were really bad defensively,” head coach Frank Martin said in an interview with the Gamecock IMG Sports Network. “On offense, we never once executed anything that we tried to run, and then our guards were just unbelievably passive. When teams play wide zone, your guards have to attack the zone and our guards were not attacking.”
Oklahoma State got into the bonus with 9:30 remaining in the first half. The Cowboys’ lead got up to 12 with under nine minutes left in the first half, as Oklahoma State made over 58 percent of its field goals in the first 10 minutes.
South Carolina went on an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 28-25 with 3:07 left in the first half, and trailed 33-28 going into halftime. The Gamecocks did not attempt a free throw in the first half, while Oklahoma State shot 11-for-12 from the free throw line.
South Carolina finally made it to the free throw line in the first two minutes of the second half. The Gamecocks took a 34-33 lead with under 18 minutes remaining in the game. This was the first lead since the early minutes of the first half.
Oklahoma State went on an 8-0 run of its own, building its lead to 47-40 with 14 minutes left in the game.
South Carolina came storming back to take a 63-62 lead with 5:37 left in the game, as Chris Silva made a jumper.
This was the last lead the Gamecocks had, as Oklahoma State pulled away in the last few minutes to win 74-70 behind Thomas Dziagwa’s 19 points.
“We were disengaged mentally,” Martin said. “We were not good. And you don’t go in the Big 12 and win in one of these buildings against a Big 12 team if you’re not mentally connected.”
Despite being limited by foul trouble, Chris Silva led the Gamecocks with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Keyshawn Bryant led the team with five assists. A.J. Lawson and Bryant combined for 22 points.
Although the Gamecocks out-rebounded the Cowboys 42-34, South Carolina made 38.8 percent of its field goals to Oklahoma State’s 40.4 percent. The Gamecocks also committed nine more fouls.
“Yesterday might’ve been the worst practice we’ve had since November,” said Martin in an interview with Sports Talk Radio Network. “We didn’t execute anything today ... we were not connected.”
Despite a 5-1 SEC record, South Carolina is now 5-8 in non-conference games this season.
The Gamecocks will now turn their attention to the No. 1 team in the country, as Tennessee will travel to Colonial Life Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.