Horn not happy with free throw discrepancy

Jim Brown-USPresswire

Any way you slice it, 2011-12 has just been a tough basketball season in Columbia. Case in point: South Carolina's game at Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.

The Gamecocks held one of the most prolific offenses in the conference in check, but were not rewarded for their strong defensive performance as the Commodores won by a 59-48 margin.

Coach Darrin Horn, whose team trails Georgia by one game in the battle to avoid finishing in the basement of the SEC standings, expressed his frustration afterwards. In particular, the foul differential.

"Unbelievably proud of our guys and the way they played, but you're not winning any games when the other team shoots 28 free throws and you shoot four. Just not going to happen," said Horn, who mentioned the Commodores' total of free throw attempts three times during his postgame press briefing.

Little has happened right for South Carolina (10-17, 2-11) this season. The Gamecocks now have lost two straight and seven of eight heading into this Saturday's home date against Tennessee.

"We're losing, but we just got to keep fighting," sophomore Bruce Ellington said. "Just keep running and keep driving and hopefully we'll get some calls."

Defense definitely was not a problem against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks limited the Commodores to 38.5 percent shooting and Jeffery Taylor struggled to a four-point showing on 1-of-8 shooting from the field.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Two key members of the South Carolina rotation flat-out disappeared during the Gamecocks' loss at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Antony Gill tallied just two points. Meanwhile, R.J. Slawson failed to notch either a point or a rebound and didn't even take a single shot.

--Damien Leonard finished with 10 points, reaching double digits for the third time in the month of February. He had to work especially hard to achieve double figures, though. Leonard took 15 shots from the field, making four, and went just 2-of-10 from 3-point range.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1,019/17 -- Senior Malik Cooke has not only been South Carolina's top scorer, he's been the team's leader on and off the court throughout the season. With a 17-point performance against LSU he surpassed the 1,000-point career total. He has 1,019 points as a collegian. That includes 407 points scored in two years at the University of Nevada.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "(Bruce) Ellington is a disruptive force on defense. Everything they do revolves around him. I hope he hurries up and goes the NFL because I am sick of seeing him." -- LSU coach Trent Johnson on USC sophomore point guard Bruce Ellington, who is also a wide receiver on the Gamecock football team.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

--vs. Tennessee, Feb. 25
KEY MATCHUPS: The Gamecocks gave Tennessee all it could handle in Knoxville before falling 69-57 earlier in the season. Skylar McBee was the difference for the Vols, scoring a game-high 18 points. He and Trae Golden locked up the game down the stretch by making 13 of 14 free throws. The Gamecocks did force 14 turnovers in the game and must improve on that to have an opportunity to win.

TRENDING: Bruce Ellington has carried the Gamecocks throughout SEC play, and his workload shows no sign of diminishing. Ellington went 35 minutes against Vanderbilt, posting 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in the process. That's the fourth time Ellington has logged at least 35 minutes of floor time this season -- all since Jan. 21 and all against conference opponents.

PLAYER NOTES

--Sophomore Brenton Williams continues to give South Carolina solid performances off the bench. He has managed to be both a consistent outside shooting threat and an additional ballhandler. While he has been more effective at the two guard slot playing beside point guard Bruce Ellington, Williams has also managed to give him short breaks as well. He came off the bench to score 10 points in the team's win against Georgia.

--After being relegated to the bench recently, junior Lakeem Jackson played 11 minutes in the Gamecocks' win over Georgia, pulling down three rebounds and picking up a steal. He played 19 minutes in the team's loss to LSU and had three points, one rebound, one steal and two assists. Jackson only played eight minutes at Vanderbilt, though.

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