South Carolina may have signed one of the top recruits in the country. And the Gamecocks may play in the SEC. On Thursday afternoon though, they did not look like they belonged on the same court as Colorado State.
The Rams came out in the first round of the Charleston Classic and absolutely bullied the Gamecocks in a 85-53 win.
Here’s how it all went down.
Dominant first half propels CSU to big lead
CSU built its lead with a phenomenal defensive effort and by absolutely owning the paint against the bigger team.
The jump shots were not falling for the Green & Gold initially. The Rams missed their first five 3-point attempts of the game. However, it did not matter because of their terrific on-ball defense and the consistent ability to produce points down low.
In the first 20 minutes alone, CSU recorded 30 points in the paint, which was almost four times as many as South Carolina (8). In total the Rams outscored USC by 40 points in the paint when the final buzzer sounded (54 vs. 14).
The persistent penetration not only gave CSU a ton of high-quality looks around the rim, but it also got South Carolina into early foul trouble, and ultimately created more open looks along the perimeter. And after struggling a bit from deep in the opening minutes, those good looks eventually started to fall for the Rams.
At one point down the stretch of the first half, the Rams made nine consecutive field goals. What was fun about the run was that it was a collective effort too. The ball movement was tremendous and guys selflessly shared the rock in search of the best possible look. It was the type of team basketball that coaches dream of.
CSU showed no mercy
South Carolina responded with a 12-2 run in the opening minutes of the second half, and for a moment it looked like they may have what it takes to make things interesting in the final 20 minutes.
But just like a Cobra Kai superstar, CSU swept the leg and showed no mercy to their opponent, as they absolutely pummeled the Gamecocks on national television.
Obviously it’s easy to play with confidence when things are going as well as they did for CSU early on. The sign of a mature team though is being able to survive your opponent’s counter, and then going about your business to secure a win. On Thursday afternoon the Rams did exactly that.
Need some more Moors
The ESPN broadcast wanted nothing more than to rant and rave about GG Jackson for the entirety of this game. Instead they were treated to the James Moors show.
While this certainly was an impressive team victory, seeing the junior big man go off for a game-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting was the highlight of this win.
The Rams are going to need Moors to be effective in the games where they are undersized, so to see him play with so much confidence was a great sight to see in the early stages of this season. If he can produce consistently in the paint, with the shooters that the staff can surround him with, the Rams can be quite dangerous offensively and they showed that in this one.
Along with Moors, John Tonje (14 points), Isaiah Rivera (12 points) and Patrick Cartier (12 points) rounded out CSU’s leading scorers. Nine CSU players scored in the win though, so again, this really was a team victory.
Along with impressive individual numbers, the Rams won the glass, finishing with six more rebounds than the Gamecocks. CSU had a better assist-to-turnover ratio, a significantly better shooting percentage, and won just about every other team stat as well. We could go over them all but the point is that the Rams were dominant.
CSU will play against Charleston Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm MT. A win would advance the Rams to the Championship Game on Sunday.