South Carolina hosted No. 20 Missouri on Saturday afternoon, losing its fifth consecutive game, 93-78 due to multiple scoring droughts and a poor shooting percentage.
The game didn't start well for the Gamecocks, as the Tigers took a 6-point lead into the first media timeout. South Carolina went on to miss four straight shots, going scoreless the final two and a half minutes of that increment. These droughts were the story of the game.
After a Missouri drought heading into the next media timeout, the Gamecocks cut Missouri's lead in half. South Carolina then went on a four-minute drought, as Missouri got the lead to double digits before the under-eight.
Missouri raised its lead to 19 just before halftime, junior guard AJ Lawson snapped a three-and-a-half-minute scoreless drought, cutting the deficit to 16 at the break. Lawson scored 22 points on the day.
The deficit was so large due to the Gamecocks' struggles to get loose balls, something, not all that familiar to Frank Martin-coached teams. They were outrebounded by seven on defense and did not see many second-chance opportunities.
“For 35 years, my players have never gotten out of the way. We get out of the way, this year. It’s very, very frustrating,” Martin said postgame.
Along with this, the Tigers could not miss in the first half, shooting a stellar 50%. South Carolina on the other hand struggled, shooting 27.8%.
“We just look to continue to search for somebody to take ownership, to help us defend better," Martin said. "Defensively, we’re just really bad.”
That would carry into the second half, as Missouri finished the day shooting 57.6% from the floor. It had five players score double-digits.
South Carolina would slowly cut into Missouri's second-half lead, getting it down to as low as seven due to some Tiger scoring droughts. They would slowly add back to that, taking leads of as much as 20 in the second half.
This has become a common occurrence for the Gamecocks, either cutting leads to single digits or blowing single-digit second-half leads against big-time opponents.
"It's been a theme that's gone on all year," said Martin. "We've addressed it, we show film, we talk about it, we practice it"
Missouri would outscore South Carolina 46-32 in the paint, in large part to transition defense struggles, once again.
Although the Gamecocks dropped to 5-11 on the season, they are not giving up hope.
“The season's not over yet, so we just gotta keep going hard and keep positive energy,” Trae Hannibal said postgame.
South Carolina will visit Mississippi State on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.