Losing streak continues: What went wrong in South Carolina’s road loss to Arkansas

·3 min read

The slide continues.

Coming into the night with back-to-back losses in Southeastern Conference play, the South Carolina men’s basketball team tried to correct course at Arkansas on Tuesday night but couldn’t hold onto a halftime lead.

The Razorbacks (13-5, 3-3 SEC) surged in a dominant second-half performance to defeat the Gamecocks 75-59, dealing Frank Martin’s team (10-7, 1-4) its third-straight loss.

Here’s what we learned.

Martin tweaks lineup again

Martin continues to tinker with his starting lineup, with a whole new configuration on Tuesday. Freshman Devin Carter started for the first time this season and — in somewhat of a surprise — drew the start at point guard.

After the Florida loss, Martin criticized his point guard play for being disconnected from what he wants to do offensively. Throughout the season, Martin has cycled through veteran Jermaine Couisnard and Jacobi Wright as starters at the point as well as transfer guard Chico Carter Jr. off the bench. But Martin went for a different look entirely against the Razorbacks, inserting Carter into the lineup to provide a physical, high-speed presence at the point.

It didn’t work early. Perhaps trying to play a little too fast, Carter turned the ball over three times in his first three minutes at the point, quickly giving way to Wright off the bench.

But Carter found his groove in the tail end of the half, racking up a team-high 14 points with a couple of explosive dunks and a pair of long 3-pointers in the waning seconds as the Gamecocks went into halftime with a seven-point lead.

Carter finished the game with 20 points, two shy of his career high, but his supporting cast faltered around him.

USC can’t stop fouling

The Gamecocks could’ve gone into halftime with an even bigger lead, but a heavy volume of fouls in the first half kept Arkansas right in the thick of it.

Excessive fouling has been an issue for USC throughout conference play, especially near the rim. Starting center Wildens Leveque played just two minutes in the first half Tuesday after picking up two quick fouls, and 10 team fouls by the Gamecocks allowed the Hogs to take 17 first-half free throws.

The Hogs made 15 of those free throws, accounting for nearly half of Arkansas’ 33 first-half points. The Hogs finished with 27 free throws on 33 attempts.

Gamecocks fall apart in second half

Whatever momentum the Gamecocks had seemed to build at the end of the first half came crashing down at the start of the second, as the Razorbacks went on a mammoth 18-1 run to start the half and seize control of the lead.

Four quick turnovers by the Gamecocks helped fuel that run, as did USC’s struggles to box out near the rim, allowing the Razorbacks to consistently extend possessions and build a lead through second-chance points.

As Arkansas continued to score, the Gamecocks scuffled on the offensive end, taking more than eight minutes to score their first field goal of the half. They finished the half making just six of their 27 field-goal attempts, for a 22.2% shooting clip.

Next USC men’s basketball game

Who: South Carolina vs. Georgia

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Colonial Life Arena in Columbia

Watch: SEC Network

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