It was a rough night defensively for the Gamecock men’s basketball team in a loss to No. 19 Missouri, 81-70.
The Gamecocks started the game missing shots and turning the ball over. This, along with some subpar defense, allowed Missouri to start on a 10-0 scoring run. The team’s inefficiency from the field in the first four minutes put them in a hole fast.
These sloppy plays continued halfway through the first half, and South Carolina found themselves down double-digits. The team was having trouble on the offensive end, shooting 27% from the field to Missouri’s 56%, and while both teams had a similar number of turnovers, Missouri was able to get nine points off those turnovers to extend their early lead.
Neither team was able to overcome their turnover problems, but Missouri capitalized off of the Gamecocks' mistakes, scoring 16 points off turnovers by the end of the half. South Carolina got its shooting percentage up to 39% near the end of the half, but it was not enough to compete with Missouri’s 61%.
“Our defense is not good right now," head coach Frank Martin said. "We played a little bit better against Texas A&M, it was not good against Florida A&M, it was not good against LSU the other day and it was definitely not good today.”
Missouri senior guard Mark Smith had a game-high 15 points in the first half on 5 of 7 shooting including 3 of 5 on three-point shots. Sophomore forward Trey Anderson led the Gamecocks with nine points on 4 of 4 shooting. Missouri's defense managed to shut down South Carolina's leading scorer junior guard A.J. Lawson, who had zero first-half points.
Coming out in the second half, Missouri remained in control by drawing fouls early and getting to the bonus with more than 10 minutes left in the half.
The Gamecock offense played much better in the second half by taking high-percentage shots, but their defense let Missouri get easy baskets at the rim.
Fatigue seemed to overcome South Carolina in the second half. They kept getting beat to the basket, causing Missouri to draw more fouls.
“I’m not an excuse guy. We've been dealt a certain hand, and it’s up to us to deal with it,” Martin said. “We got to get in a little bit better shape, we're not in the kind of shape we need to be in right now."
Missouri ran away with the game the rest of the second half, never taking their foot off the pedal. They shot 58% for the entire game and never let South Carolina cut the lead to single-digits.
Senior forward Jeremiah Tilmon led the Missouri team, earning a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He also was a force on the defensive end securing three blocks and three steals.
“Obviously, hard to go on the road and beat the 15th, 16th-ranked team ... when your defense is as bad as ours was today,” Martin said.
The Gamecocks fall to 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in conference play. They will have a shot to get back in the win column when they take on an 8-6 Auburn team at Colonial Life Arena on Saturday at noon on ESPN2.