BATON ROUGE – South Carolina opened Saturday’s basketball game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center by making its first five three-point attempts and LSU was never really able to recover, falling 82-73, to the Gamecocks.
Carolina made 8-of-16 distance shots in the first half and 15-of-32 for the game and seemed to get keep shots when LSU was trying to rally in the second half.
It was South Carolina’s third league win and all have been on the road this season. LSU falls to 12-15 and 1-13 in the league.
The loss wiped out a strong performance by LSU’s Cam Hayes, who equaled his career high with 25 points. His overall line was extremely strong in 34 minutes, hitting 8-of-15 shots, including 4-of-8 at the three-point line with five free throws, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
KJ Williams added 14 points and Derek Fountain had 13.
LSU only turned the ball over six times, a season low, after 19 turnovers on Tuesday at Georgia, but shot 26-of-62 (41.9%) for the game with seven treys and just 14-of-26 from the free throw line. South Carolina finished at 46.3 percent (25-of-54) with the 15 treys and equally hurtful, 17-of-18 at the charity stripe.
Both Gregory “GG” Jackson II and Meechie Johnson had 20 points apiece for Carolina with Johnson hitting five treys and Jackson four. Jacobi Wright had five treys in scoring 18 points and Hayden Brown had 16.
The teams had 36 rebounds each and LSU had a 16-9 advantage in offensive rebounds, but only a 23-16 plus margin in second chance points.
With the five opening threes, South Carolina jumped out to a 15-5 advantage 4:30 into the contest. LSU twice cut it to one point at 22-21 and 25-24 and 32-31 in the first half and went to the dressing room, down, 36-31.
The Gamecocks came out and hit two treys early in the half to build the lead back to nine, and LSU was never really able to get the margin to within striking distance the rest of the way.
LSU returns to the Maravich Center on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. against Vanderbilt. Tickets are available at LSUTix.net.
LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
“Not a whole lot to say. Obviously, it was a very disappointing afternoon. Give credit to South Carolina, they had great energy and shot the ball incredibly well from the three-point line and that was ultimately the difference in the game. You look at a lot of the other statistical categories that were fairly favorable to us, but we were minus 24 points from behind the three-point line and thought they had the energy and played with the urgency that was necessary to win this game, so give them great credit.”
On the first half…
“I think it is just, again from a coaching standpoint, it is your responsibility whether you are making shots or what have you, you have got to get your transition defense set. Have to close out and run guys off the three-point line. We thought the two biggest keys for us from a defensive standpoint would be defending the three, where you look at guys like (Jacobi) Wright and Meechie Johnson who have been shooting it at a really good clip here lately, you know how capable GG (Gregory) Jackson II is there. Then also the defensive rebounds, I think in their last five games, (Josh) Gray, (Hayden) Brown and Jackson were around nine to 10 offensive rebounds a game. Clearly, we didn’t get the job done. I thought we allowed some missed opportunities to finish at the basket to turn into open threes for them in transition and they made us pay. They started five-for-five, they went three-for their next-16, which enabled us to get back into the game there in the first half. Unfortunately, we were not able to convert at the free-throw lines or some layups there. We come in down five and then second half, right back, seven-of-16 from three, just hard to win games when teams shoot it that well from behind the arc. It’s our responsibility to make them miss is the bottom line.
On the play of Cam Hayes…
“When you play hard and you are locked in and focused, it really carries over to every area of the game. 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.”
South Carolina Head Coach Lamont Paris
“What a great win for our guys. It’s probably the best game they’ve (South Carolina) played with everything involved, from shooting performance to how we generated shots. I’m really happy with our performance.”
On cleaning up the team’s performance in the second half…
“The first half, we missed a lot of stuff around the basket. ‘GG’ (Gregory Jackson II) had a layup in transition that he missed, Josh (Gray) got blocked on a dunk and Hayden (Brown) got down and around the basket two times and didn’t get anything out of it. There were opportunities there and we also gave up 15 second-chance points in the first half. We did a better job in the second half of sewing that stuff up.”
On if he believes that hitting early shots has a positive effect on the team…
“There’s no doubt. As long as I’ve done it, that’s how it goes. You get off to a good start and the guys feel good. The rim looks bigger, everyone’s talked about that. If you look at Jacobi (Wright) today, he goes bang-bang-bang with three three pointers in succession and he felt good. Then, he didn’t get a shot for a while and he takes one in the second half and he barely drew iron. It’s not even just you. I think that if you see your teammates making a bunch of shots and often times that inspires you and you know that the lids not on the rim anymore, so you can shoot the ball as well.”
(Press release provided by LSU Athletics)