The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Defense fails South Carolina men's basketball team once again in Vanderbilt loss

Redshirt senior Seventh Woods dribbles the ball down the court during South Carolina's game at Vanderbilt. South Carolina lost 93-81.
Redshirt senior Seventh Woods dribbles the ball down the court during South Carolina's game at Vanderbilt. South Carolina lost 93-81.

Defensive struggles continued to be the downfall for South Carolina men's basketball as they lost 93-81 to the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday night. 

Following a win against Georgia, South Carolina was looking to add another conference win to their record against the Commodores, who were 0-6 in SEC play coming into Saturday. 

The game did not go as planned. 

“From the first possession of the game today — our first defensive possession — I knew we were in trouble,” head coach Frank Martin said.

Sophomore guard Scotty Pippen Jr. started the game hot for Vanderbilt, scoring a quick 7 points. Vanderbilt as a whole shot 70% from the field in the first five minutes. 

On offense, the Gamecocks turned the ball over three times in the first five minutes, allowing Vanderbilt to go up by double digits early.

The Gamecocks were able to pick things up thanks to 11 early points from junior guard A.J. Lawson. They went on a 12-3 run and managed to pull the game within 2 points before Vanderbilt started to heat back up.

South Carolina gave up 11 turnovers by the end of the first half, and Vanderbilt finished the half 52-37 after a 15-5 run. 

“We didn’t come out with maximum effort, and then throughout the game we just, we had our heads down and we couldn’t pick it back up,” Lawson said.

The only thing that went wrong for Vanderbilt in the second half was when sophomore forward Dylan Disu went sliding off the elevated court of Memorial Stadium. He shook it off and finished the game with 17 points. 

The Gamecocks' struggles continued in the second half. They finished the night conceding 26 points off turnovers. They also failed to stop Vanderbilt from driving to the basket and creating contact, fouling 22 times. 

Shooting was not an issue for either team. South Carolina shot 50% from the field, including 43% from three, while Vanderbilt shot 49%. 

South Carolina made a push late in the second half, ending the game on a 13-0 run in the last three minutes, but it was too little, too late. 

Vanderbilt senior guard Maxwell Evans scored a career-high 29 points while Pippen had a big night, scoring 23 points along with 7 assists. 

Lawson finished the game for the Gamecocks with 21 points and 4 rebounds while junior forward Keyshawn Bryant added 13 points and 6 rebounds.

“I’m really disappointed,” Martin said. “We got outworked. Not much I can say about how disappointed I am right now."

The Gamecocks have allowed their opponents to score more than 80 points in four of their last five games. They also allowed 90-plus points to be scored against them for the second time this season. The first time was during a 109-86 loss to Auburn on Jan. 23.

South Carolina is now 4-6 for the season and 2-4 in the SEC. Vanderbilt's win marked their first SEC win of the season. 

The Gamecocks will look to bounce back on Wednesday when they travel to Gainesville, Florida. The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.