South Carolina men’s basketball suffered a 90-71 defeat to the Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday in a game that was out-of-hand after the first half. The Gamecocks were down 23 points at halftime.
“I think we actually had a good game plan, man. We just, first 20 minutes of that game, we just didn't play with enough energy, enough fight. It was pretty lackadaisical to be honest,” senior guard Erik Stevenson said postgame.
Alabama started the game on fire from the three-point line. They opened the game hitting five of its first eight three-point attempts. The Crimson Tide rode the three-ball heavily in the first half hitting 9-18, compared to the Gamecocks’ 3-10.
“We found ourselves in too many situations on the defensive end where we were too spread out,” Stevenson said. “They spread you out and they dribble-drive, they either get lay-ups or they knock down some threes.”
Alabama shied away from the three-point line in the second half. The Crimson Tide instead looked to get shots inside the arc after cooling down from outside.
The Crimson Tide finished with 13 made threes, while South Carolina hit only seven on the night.
Alabama won the turnover battle by a minuscule margin, 19-17. The difference came on the points off these turnovers. Alabama found success capitalizing off Gamecock turnovers and scored 24 points off turnovers. 22 of those points came in the first half.
“We turned it over 15 times in the first half, and when you do that it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be hard to beat a top-20 team in the country — a team that’s as good as Alabama, on senior day in a sold out building, we put ourselves in a tough spot," head coach Frank Martin said.
South Carolina only scored 10 points off Alabama’s turnovers. This added another obstacle to the game for the Gamecocks.
A second-half comeback looked possible for a while. South Carolina started the second half with urgency and Alabama started missing.
“We just kind of took away the three-point shots that they were making early,” graduate student guard James Reese said. “We rebounded better, you know, and we wasn’t spread out, letting them have those easy driving lanes.”
At one point the game got as close as six points, but the Crimson Tide quickly built its lead back up to over 20 points where it would remain through the rest of the game.
The loss moves the Gamecocks to 8-8 in the SEC and 17-11 overall and snapped a four-game win streak for the Gamecocks. With only two games left before the SEC tournament, moving forward every game will matter more when it comes to a potential NCAA tournament berth.
South Carolina will try to add to its resume and bounce back on senior night when it hosts Missouri at 7 p.m. on March 1.