South Carolina MBB battles past East Carolina, earns first true road win of season

One could just copy and paste the formula in South Carolina men’s basketball’s loss to Clemson on Wednesday and have a general idea of how the Gamecocks handled East Carolina three days later.

Just change the outcome in favor of USC.

South Carolina’s late buckets in a back-and-forth second half put the Gamecocks back in the win column with a 68-62 win over the Pirates at ECU.

Second half switch up

Against Clemson on Wednesday and again against the Pirates, South Carolina has allowed its opponent an early scoring run in the second half. Both games included 7-0 runs and missed opportunities to shoot the ball.

Those early runs tied the game and put the Gamecocks behind the eight ball.

South Carolina’s fast first halves have led it a three-possession lead at halftime, this time a 35-28 against ECU. Sloppy possessions plagued the Gamecocks. They were passing the ball too much, missing open 3-pointers and letting ECU gain momentum. It was eerily similar to Wednesday’s loss to the Tigers.

There were 10 lead changes and nine ties in the second half. USC had a four minute scoring drought. In the last six minutes, USC and ECU couldn’t score consecutive baskets. The Gamecocks simply couldn’t undo what they did during that opening Pirates scoring run.

Clutch baskets

Head coach Lamont Paris made it very clear after the Clemson loss — find players who can score big-time baskets in big-time moments.

Mack and Johnson stepped up.

The duo both score game-leading or game-tying baskets in the final minutes of the game. Despite both of them in foul trouble late, they found their open lane and took it.

Stute back on track, Johnson storms back

After scoring four points on Wednesday night, Myles Stute was due for another explosive performance. The last time the guard scored less than five points, he put up 11 the next game. Against ECU, that same pattern emerged.

Stute was the leading South Carolina scorer for over three quarters of the game, before fellow starting guard Meechie Johnson roared back to 13 points with four minutes to play.

The pair paved the way for the Gamecocks, and were two of three scoring double-digits and going 10-for-17 Saturday afternoon. BJ Mack continued his streak of 10-plus point games as the third Gamecock. ECU had four players in double-digits.

USC’s next four games

  • Dec. 16 vs. Charleston Southern, 6 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)

  • Dec. 19 vs. Winthrop, 7 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)

  • Dec. 22 vs. Elon, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)

  • Dec. 30 vs. Florida A&M, 2 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)