South Carolina’s best outside shooter, Chico Carter, Jr., hurt his knee earlier this week so he decided to sit out the trip to play at LSU.
Or, his coaches decided he should stay home.
Either way, Carter, Jr. missed the party. He no doubt wishes he could have been playing.
South Carolina, which was shooting less than 40% from the field this season before Saturday, feasted on LSU from the perimeter early and often at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, defeating LSU, 82-73.
It was sort of a Mardi Gras Mambo for South Carolina at LSU’s expense. The Gamecocks made 15 of 32 3s and outscored the Tigers by 24 points from beyond the arc.
It started early and lasted throughout and South Carolina (10-17, 3-11 in SEC) led the entire game.
It also marked LSU’s (12-15, 1-13) 14th straight loss, tying the 1966-67 Tigers of then-first-year head coach Press Maravich for the second longest losing streak in Tigers’ history.
LSU’s team record for futility is 15 consecutive losses by the 2015-16 team of Johnny Jones.
LSU next plays host on Wednesday to a red-hot Vanderbilt team that is riding a four-game conference winning streak going into tonight’s home against Auburn.
Vanderbilt, by the way, likes to shoot the 3, and does it quite well. Perhaps the Commodores can be persuaded to arrive early on Fat Tuesday and wear out their arms throwing beads at a local parade.
Against LSU, Meechie Johnson and Gregory Jackson II each scored 20 points for South Carolina.
Jacobi Wright got the party started for South Carolina, knocking down 4 of 5 shots from behind the 3-point arc in the first half to score 12 points for a 36-31 halftime lead, after leading by as many 12 points before intermission.
USC shot 25 of 54 from the field with 20 assists for the game. The Gamecocks 15 made 3-pointers were more than twice their season game average of seven per game.
Imagine if Chico Carter, Jr. would have made the trip?
That’s really all you need to know.
“They had the energy and played with the urgency that was necessary to win the game,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said “The foundation of any team starts there. How hard do you play? How hard do you compete? Do you play together? Do you communicate with each other on and off the floor?
“I haven’t been able to create that environment that gives yourself a chance to win. That’s always going to be my responsibility.”
LSU certainly could not overcome the long-distance scoring margin.
Throw in South Carolina’s 94% free-throw shooting, compared to LSU’s 52% from the charity stripe, and it’s remarkable the Tigers only lost by nine points in a late-season game most had highlighted as one of the Tigers’ two best opportunities to end their quickly becoming infamous losing streak.
Cam Hayes led LSU with 25 points, tying a career high set earlier this season versus Winthrop.
“When you play hard and you are locked in and focused, it really carries over to every area of the game,” McMahon said of Hayes. “You’ll look and see he had 25 points on just 15 shots, so that’s really efficient, four-of-eight from three. He also had eight defensive rebounds, he also had four assists and three steals. I thought he was really locked in and impacted the game at both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, we were not able to do enough in other areas to give ourselves a chance to win.”
McMahon could not, however, point to anything more meaningful than South Carolina’s 3-point shooting party as the difference in the game.
“Our six turnovers were a season low and we allowed seven points off those turnovers,” McMahon said. “We had 16 offensive rebounds (for 23 second chance points), 26 free throw attempts (14 of 26 compared to South Carolina’s 17 of 18) and we got eight more shot attempts (26 of 62 compared to the Gamecocks’ 25 of 54).
“Yet, I just go back to the 3-point line,” McMahon said. “They (South Carolina) were a plus-24 from behind the (45 points off 3’s compared to LSU’s 21 points) and despite the free throw (attempt) discrepancy they were plus-3 at the free throw line.”
There is no hope for the LSU Men’s Basketball Program. Scott Woodward, while a genius with other hirings, wanted to get rid of Will Wade and put his stamp on the Men’s basketball program. The hire of MM to date has been a failure. Sure, there are challenges with a late hire. However, the player development of the team looks really bad. Adam Miller is supposed to be an elite player, yet he looks silly jacking up 3 balls that have no chance. The turnovers have been fast and furious the entire season. The development during the season hasn’t happened. Another bad year and McMahon will be gone. And the NCAA will ultimate clear Will Wade as happened with the Arizona and Kansas coaches.