The Gamecock men's basketball team started flat and couldn’t bounce back Tuesday night during its 75-64 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The Commodores gained separation by overwhelming the Gamecocks in the rebound battle, doubling South Carolina’s rebound total in the first half and holding a 30-15 advantage.
“A lot of it's effort, a lot of it's will, and we just didn't show a whole bunch of that collectively,” graduate student forward Hayden Brown said.
Eleven of those 30 rebounds came on the offensive glass. Vanderbilt used these extra possessions to score 14 second-chance points.
“That's been a real big point of emphasis for us, and I thought the guys did a good job tonight,” Commodores head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “We have a rebound report after every game, so I'm pretty sure they're going to be happy to hear about this one this time.”
The Gamecocks had just two offensive rebounds in the half, trailing by 20 points. Head coach Lamont Paris said the team was lucky the gap wasn’t any larger.
“There were some frustration on guys of not playing well. We didn't attack the basket in the first half, and after all that ... we look up and it's 20 (points behind),” Paris said. “This is basketball — things happen quickly, and they did in the second half.”
South Carolina found some life in the second half. The team went on an 8-0 run early to cut the lead, but Vanderbilt responded with its own 8-0 run.
The Commodores' lead stayed above double-digits until the final minute, when the Gamecocks cut it to 9 points.
Senior forward Liam Robbins was a difference maker for the Commodores. He finished the game with 23 points, eight rebounds and two blocks while shooting 8-14 from the floor and 3-3 from three-point land.
“He does a really good job just body positioning,” Brown said. “He also has been shooting the ball really well lately, and so when you add that component to a seven-footer, it kind of makes it a little dicey.”
Neither team shot the ball well. Both shot less than 40% from the field and and less than 30% from three. The Commodores went 10-37 from behind the line, and the Gamecocks went 7-27.
Sophomore guard Meechie Johnson exploded for 19 points in the second half after going scoreless in the first. Senior guard Chico Carter Jr. added 15 points, and Brown had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Junior forward Josh Gray led both teams in rebounding with 12 in total.
The loss marks the seventh straight home loss for the Gamecocks. The team has yet to beat an SEC team at home this year, its last home win being against Eastern Michigan on Dec. 30.
Freshman forward GG Jackson was absent from the starting lineup for the third straight game after a controversial live stream on his Instagram, where he criticized the Gamecocks after the Arkansas game.
Jackson struggled against Vanderbilt, scoring just 2 points in 16 minutes of playing time.
Jackson checked in early in the second half but was quickly taken out. He eventually subbed back in with 9:43 left in the game but was pulled again, logging just five minutes of playing time in the half.
“We made a couple substitutions, they went on a run, and so I subbed back, and then we started clawing our way back,” Paris said. “Ultimately, that's what it boiled down to, but guys get frustrated sometimes at poor play or whatever it is. But frustrations (are) never great for an athlete.”
With this loss, the Gamecocks fall to (9-17) overall and (2-11) in the SEC.
South Carolina will play LSU on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Tigers enter the matchup in last place in the SEC at (1-11).