Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gamecocks' Length Too Much for Gators (Recap of Florida v. South Carolina Women's Basketball Game)

The South Carolina Women's Basketball team entered Sunday's "Think Pink" game vs. Florida on a major roll.  Ranked #4 in the country, Dawn Staley's Gamecocks had won eight straight games, six of those by thirteen or more points.  South Carolina leads the SEC in overall scoring margin, outscoring their opponents by a ridiculous twenty plus points per game.

Florida had literally a tall task on Sunday.  The Gamecocks lead the SEC in blocks, averaging over seven per game.  The Gators entered the game as the third leading scoring team in the SEC, averaging over seventy five points per game, shooting forty four percent per game, good for fourth in the conference.  It was offense vs. defense in a game where breast cancer victims were being recognized all throughout the game for their fight against breast cancer.

It was another warm day in Columbia, as my friend Dave, his son Morgan, my son Matthew and I took in the game.  And we were definitely not the only ones taking in the game at Colonial Life Arena.  A crowd of 10,547, the second largest crowd to ever see a women's basketball game in the arena, was there to watch the Gamecocks try for their ninth straight win.

Florida, who hold a season series sweep over #15 Kentucky, came out flying at the start, scoring the first seven points in the game in a little over two minutes.  Cassie Peoples had five of the first seven Gators' points.

But once freshman center Alaina Coates came into the game, the momentum swung.   The Gamecocks would score ten straight points with Coates giving them an 8-7 lead on a layup.  Aleigsha Welch's jumper capped the spurt and put the Gamecocks up three.

More importantly, South Carolina imposed its length on Florida.  In the first six minutes, the Gamecocks had five blocks, two by Coates and two by Elem Ibiam.  As a result, the Gators went nearly eight minutes without a field goal.

Florida finally broke the drought on a Jatera Bonds layup to cut the lead to one, 10-9.  The Gators would keep the game close over the next three and a half minutes.  Peoples would hit a three to keep Florida within two, 19-17 with a little under seven minutes left in the half.

But South Carolina would respond with a 11-1 run over the next five minutes.  The Gamecocks would block another two shots in the span.  Had it not been for three South Carolina turnovers, the spurt might have been larger.   Still, Coates hit one of two free throws to put the Gamecocks up 30-18.  Two Bonds' jumpers cut the lead to eight before Ibiam made two free throws before the end of the half to put South Carolina up 32-22 at halftime.

After a very nice halftime event that recognized fans that had survived breast cancer or had a family member who had breast cancer, the Gamecocks extended their lead to sixteen, 46-30 with a little under thirteen minutes left.  Tiffany Mitchell was responsible for five baskets in the first seven plus minutes of the second half, scoring on three layups and assisting on two other field goals.  It looked like the game was about over.

But Florida refused to quit, outscoring South Carolina 13-3 over the span of seven minutes.  The Gamecocks went ice cold from the field during that span, hitting on only one of ten shot attempts and turning the ball over three times as Florida did a pretty good job of trying to deny the entry pass to the Gamecock bigs.  A Kayla Lewis layup cut the deficit to six, 49-43 with 5:17 left.

But that's as close as Florida got the rest of the way as South Carolina outscored them 20-12 over the last four minutes and forty nine seconds.  Mitchell and Coates scored fourteen of the Gamecocks final twenty points as South Carolina won its ninth game in a row, a hard fought 69-55 contest.

The Gamecocks held the Gators to twenty points under their season scoring average and Florida only shot thirty two percent from the field.  This shouldn't come as a surprise given the Gamecocks lead the SEC in Field Goal Percentage Defense at thirty four percent. South Carolina had eleven blocks in the game and outrebounded Florida 44-29.  Mitchell led the Gamecocks with twenty points and added eight rebounds.  Coates got another double with sixteen points and twelve rebounds. Welsh added twelve points for the Gamecocks.  Bonds led Florida with twenty points and Lewis added fifteen for the Gators.

With the win, the Gamecocks moved to 25-2 and 13-1 in the SEC.  After Texas A&M lost to Kentucky, the Gamecocks clinched at least a tie for the SEC Regular Season Championship, the first in the history of the program. The Gamecocks can win the SEC Regular Season Championship outright with a win over Georgia at home on Thursday, February 27.

Sounds like a good night to watch a team clinch its first outright championship.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Second Half Shooting Ice Storm Dooms Gamecocks (Recap of Georgia v. South Carolina Men's Basketball Game)

Last week, South Carolina had its second winter storm of the season.  It resulted in over three hundred thousand people affected by power outages, three days of school closures and a wish by many for an early spring.  The Gamecocks basketball team again thrived on the icetastophre weather though, defeating Vanderbilt, just like they did when they defeated Texas A&M back in late January after another winter storm.

Despite it being a Whiteout day vs. Georgia, there was no such bad, cold weather on Saturday.  It was a beautiful, sunny day in Columbia, South Carolina, with the temperature around seventy degrees.  And after two morning baseball practices, my color analyst, aka my older son Matthew, and I took the familiar fifteen minute drive from our house to Colonial Life Arena.

As we drove up to the parking lot a half hour before game time, it seemed more crowded around the arena parking lots than usual. That's when we found out that the baseball team had a home game around the same time. Thus one of the usual parking lots for basketball was turned into a game-day shuttle lot for baseball fans.  Considering the baseball stadium holds 8,000 for a baseball game, plus add that to 13,000 out for a basketball game, and you have the ingredients for serious traffic delays around the arena.

Matt and I made the best of a situation and found our way to the parking garage across from Colonial Life.  When  we walked into the arena, we found it adorned in the colors of the day, white, as each seat was adorned with ESPN SEC network towels. The Gamecocks were hosting a Bulldogs' team that entered the game in third place in the SEC at 8-5.

Sindarius Thornwell started the scoring out with a three pointer for the Gamecocks.  But the Bulldogs responded with six straight points, including an old fashioned three point play by Kenny Gaines that put Georgia up 6-3.  Gaines would be a constant thorn in South Carolina's side the entire day.

The Gamecocks responded with a 10-0 spurt over four and a half minutes.  It was led by none other than South Carolina's leading scorer, Brenton Williams.  Williams buried two three pointers during the span and his second one put the Gamecocks up 13-6.

But Gaines would answer back by nearly being a one man for the Bulldogs.  After Brandon Morris hit a three point play for Georgia to cut the lead to 13-9.  Then after Williams headed to the bench after picking up his second foul guarding him, Gaines would score the next nine straight points for the Bulldogs.  His three pointer put Georgia up one, 18-17 with nine and a half minutes left in the first half.  

Thornwell would respond to put the Gamecocks up one, 19-18. But the Bulldogs would score the next five points to go up 23-19.  After Thornwell scored another three straight points to cut the lead back to one,  Gaines would bury a three pointer to put Georgia back up four 26-22.

The back and forth continued between the two teams, as South Carolina would respond with six quick points, a three pointer by Brian Steele, who is seeing a lot more playing time as of late, and three Duane Notice free throws to put the Gamecocks back up two 28-26.

The teams would continue to trade the lead for the last three and a half minutes of the half until Steele again buried a three pointer to tie the game at thirty four at the half.   Both teams made ten field goals in the first half, with the Gamecocks hitting one more three pointer (they were five of nine from beyond the arc in the first twenty minutes).

The second half started out innocently enough with the Bulldogs going in front on another Morris three point play. After two Thornton free throws put the Bulldogs up five, Notice hit one of two free throws to cut the Georgia lead to four, 39-35 with about eighteen and a half minutes left in the game.

But the Gamecocks had started out missing their first three field goals in the second half and committed a turnover before that Notice free throw.  The empty possessions continued as Williams missed two jumpers, Thornwell missed two jumpers and Kacinas missed not one, but two tip in attempts.

But Georgia couldn't take advantage as they went nearly three minutes without scoring a point.  Finally, Gaines hit a layup to put the Bulldogs up six, 41-35.  Still, there was over fifteen and a half minutes left for the Gamecocks to find their stride shooting wise and only have to makeup a six point deficit.

But the empty possessions continued for South Carolina.  Williams missed a layup and Steele missed two jumpers.  After Laimonas Chatkevicius turned the ball over, Williams and Notice missed jumpers.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs started hitting their shots.  Nemanja Djurisic scored five straight points, including a three pointer that capped a 11-0 run to put Georgia up 50-35.  Finally with a little less than eleven minutes remaining in the game, Thornwell hit a turnaround jumper to end the zero for fourteen shooting drought and the Gamecocks were down thirteen, 50-37.

But the damage had been done.  After Juwan Parker and Williams traded three point possessions,  Parker's an old fashioned three point play and Williams with his usual beyond the arc skills, the Bulldogs would extend the lead to nineteen by scoring the next six points to go up 59-40 with nine minutes left.  By that time, some fans actually headed to the exits.

Unfortunately, the Gamecocks didn't make those fans regret their decision.  Gaines continued to torment the Gamecocks with his scoring.  His three pointer put Georgia up twenty, 62-42.   All that was left was for South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin to get a technical foul call to express his frustration with the referees as well as his team's second half play.  

The Bulldogs would go onto win 73-56 and firmly lock themselves in third place in the SEC at 9-5, two games ahead of seven other teams tied for fourth at 7-7.  Meanwhile, the Gamecocks are tied for the cellar in the SEC with Mississippi State at 3-11.  South Carolina shot just sixteen percent in the second half, five of thirty one, and twenty six percent for the game.

Gaines led all scorers with twenty seven points, a career high for him.  The sophomore guard shot nine of fourteen from the field including five of nine from beyond the arc.   Thornton had a double double with twelve points and ten rebounds while Morris added twelve also for the Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs outrebounded the Gamecocks 40-38.  When Georgia outrebounds a team, they are 15-3.  They are 0-8 when they are outrebounded.

Thornwell led South Carolina with eighteen points and Williams added sixteen points.  However, they combined to shoot nine of thirty one from the field.  The rest of the team shot a measly six of twenty six.

The weather is getting warmer finally in Columbia, South Carolina.  One can only hope that the Gamecocks shooting will get warmer too.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Gamecocks Go On the Offensive...Boards to Beat Commodores (Recap of Vandy v. USC)

Two weeks ago, a winter storm affected Georgia and South Carolina, causing massive traffic jams in Atlanta, accidents in South Carolina and school closures throughout both states, including shutting down USC for two days.  During that time, South Carolina won their first conference game, a twenty eight point drubbing of Texas A&M, a Thursday night home game that I attended.

Two weeks later, South Carolina was hit with another snow storm on Wednesday, one that dumped several inches of slow, sleet and even ice across the state.  It also caused massive power outages statewide and again closed schools state wide, including once again, the University of South Carolina.  In the span of two weeks, the University closed for four days and had a delayed opening on a fifth day.

The snowstorm also caused the postponement of the Wednesday night Vanderbilt-South Carolina game, which was rescheduled to Thursday at 4:00 PM.    By around 3:00 PM, the sun was out in Columbia and it was warm enough to melt the ice on the roads.  After venturing out to the local CVS to scout out road conditions, I decided to take the trip to Colonial Life Arena to watch the game.

The roads weren't bad at all, all things considering. There wasn't much traffic midday as most people had heeded the warnings to stay off the road, but enough people had made their way out to make the roads slushy.  When I got to Colonial Life Arena a half hour before game time, the parking lot I normally park in was pretty empty.  There were no parking attendants, so parking was free.  When I got to my seat, I would be the only person in my row for the game.  I actually moved down a couple of rows for the second half.

The announced crowd was 9,829, but that must have included pre-sold tickets, because the crowd was far less than the announced number.  As a result, you heard a lot more things than you normally would in a more full arena.  Then again, you can always hear Gamecocks Head Coach Frank Martin on the court, no matter how large the crowd.  Martin puts on a show with his facial expressions and outward honesty.  At one point during a stoppage in play, he yelled at Brenton Williams "Are you gonna guard the ball?!"

The Gamecocks had lost three straight entering the contest against the Commodores, losing two close games at Ole Miss and home to Auburn before getting pasted on the road vs. Tennessee.  Meanwhile, Vanderbilt had won four straight games in conference before losing a tough contest at home to Arkansas by two points.  The Commodores featured the reigning SEC player of the week in senior Rod Odom, a six foot nine forward from my old neck of the woods, Long Island, New York (Central Islip to be specific).  Odom scored twenty six points in a win vs. Tennessee and twenty two points in the close loss to Arkansas.

Vanderbilt won the tip and had three chances to score on the first possession due to two offensive rebounds.  But the Commodores couldn't score.  South Carolina scored the first basket on a Sindarius Thornwell jumper. Vanderbilt's James Siakam layup then tied the game at two.   The Gamecocks would outscore the Commodores 8-3 over the next 90 seconds.  Another Thornwell basket put South Carolina up 10-5.

Vanderbilt would hang around, thanks to their terrific freshman center Damian Jones.  Over the span of a minute, Jones would hit two baskets and block two shots. His layup put Vandy within one, 14-13.

Over the next six minutes, both teams would struggle from the field as they combined to only score fifteen points.  During this span, the Gamecocks were three of eleven from the field with three turnovers.  Meanwhile, the Commodores committed four turnovers in the span and only attempted three field goals.  The third field goal attempt, an Odom jumper, again cut the Gamecocks' lead to one, 22-21.  It was Odom's first basket of the game and his only basket of the half.

Williams would bury a three to put the Gamecocks up four, 25-21 with about four and a half minutes left in the half.  But that would be as large a lead that there would be the rest of the half.  Vandy would get the ball back with five seconds left in the half.  And after a timeout, Kyle Fuller went coast to coast off the inbounds pass for a layup to again cut the South Carolina lead to one, 28-27 at the half.

In the second half, after a Duane Notice jumper put the Gamecocks up three, 32-29, the Commodores scored the next four points.  After a Fuller jumper, Jones followed with a layup to give Vandy their first lead of the game 33-32.  Later Fuller would hit another jumper to put Vandy back up two, 38-36 with fifteen minutes left in the game.   It would be the Commodores' last lead in the game.

Thornwell would tie the game with two free throws.  Then Notice hit a three pointer off a Thornwell assist to put South Carolina up 41-38.  Thornwell would later hit a three pointer to put the Gamecocks up four, 44-40.  Odom would hit two free throws to cut the lead to two, 44-42 with a little over eleven minutes from there.  That's as close as the Commodores would get the rest of the way.

Over the next seven plus minutes, South Carolina went on a 14-3 run.  The Gamecocks clamped down on the Commodores, only allowing an Odom long distance three during the span.  What made the difference was the Gamecocks' tenaciousness on the offensive glass.  South Carolina would grab eight offensive rebounds during this span which would lead to many second chance opportunities.  In fact, during this run, ten of the Gamecocks' fourteen points would come off second chance opportunities.   Brian Steele, who is seeing more playing time due to his hustle, capped the spurt with a layup to put South Carolina up thirteen, 58-45 with four minutes left.

Vandy would not go away however, due in large part to Fuller.  The Commodores went on a 7-0 spurt and Fuller had a hand in all of the Commodores' points.  He first hit two free throws, then followed with a layup. He capped the run by assisting Odom on a three pointer to cut the Gamecocks' lead to six, 58-52.

But the Commodores got no further, thanks to Thornwell.  While doing a terrific job of holding Odom to only nine field goal attempts, he was scoring points as well.  Thornwell would score five straight South Carolina points to put the Gamecocks back up ten, 63-53 with fifty four seconds left.  He capped USC's scoring by hitting one of two free throws as the Gamecocks won their second game in the SEC 65-59.

South Carolina only shot thirty eight percent from the field.  But they had sixteen more field goal attempts than Vandy due to TWENTY SIX offensive rebounds, as the Gamecocks outrebounded the Commodores 45-31.   It was a team effort on the glass, as no Gamecock had more than seven rebounds (Mindaugas Kacinas).

Thornwell led the Gamecocks with nineteen points and also added six rebounds and six assists.  Williams added fourteen points and Notice had ten points.  Fuller led the Commodores and all scorers with twenty points.  Jones was terrific for Vandy with sixteen points, ten rebounds and seven blocks.  Odom had only ten points as he was held by Thornwell to three of nine shooting on the day.

During the post game interview with Gamecocks' radio play by play broadcaster Andy Demetra, Martin was pleased with his team's attention to detail, their rebounding effort and his help defense, which was much better than it was against Auburn.  He was particularly happy with Thornwell's defense on the much taller Odom.

During that interview, I don't remember Martin saying much about the team's luck with winter storms.  It will probably be the last storm for the season.  Temperatures will be up in the seventies early next week, with a forecast of the upper seventies by next weekend.

If the Gamecocks' can continue to rebound and play defense like they did on Thursday, perhaps they will get hot too.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

No Help on D Means No Win for South Carolina (Recap of Auburn v. South Carolina)

Last Saturday, South Carolina was up 61-46 on Ole Miss with a little less than eleven minutes in the game.   The Rebels would go on a 29-10 run the rest of the way to again barely beat the Gamecocks 75-71.   Two weeks earlier, Ole Miss had rallied from a double digit halftime deficit to edge South Carolina 75-74.   After so painfully losing a close game for a second time to the team that won the SEC Tournament last season, Frank Martin's team looked to rebound against Auburn Wednesday night.

As Martin would say in his post game interview with Gamecocks Radio play by play announcer Andy Demetra, the game plan was simple; help out on defense against the Tigers one-two guard punch of Chris Denson and KT Harrell.  Denson and Harrell each score about twenty points a game and are Auburn's only two double digit scorers.

Duane Notice got the night started off right for the Gamecocks with a three pointer but Auburn would score the next five points.  Demetrius Henry would tie the game at five, the first of three ties there would be over the first six plus minutes.   Denson would break the last of the ties in that span with a three pointer to put Auburn up 18-15.  The Tigers would keep the lead for the next twenty one minutes in the game.

Despite what Martin had said was the game, the Gamecocks could not contain Denson and Harrell.  Though Auburn got help along the way from Tahj Shamsid-Deen and Allen Payne, it was the Tigers' two star guards who kept South Carolina at bay.  Denson had eight points in the first nine and a half minutes in the game and scored twelve in the first half.  Meanwhile, Harrell had ten first half points.

The only thing that kept the Gamecocks in the game in the first half was the continued torrid scoring of Brenton Williams.  Williams, who had thirty two points in the loss last Saturday to the Rebels, would score eleven first half points to keep South Carolina close, 38-35 at the half.   He has become the Gamecocks' main scoring threat this season.

Williams struggled to start the season.  In the span of six non conference games starting with Clemson and ending with St Mary's, Williams failed to score in double figures in five of those six games.  Even worse, Williams had zero points in three games; Clemson, Oklahoma State and Manhattan.  Williams barely played against the Cowboys and the Jaspers, playing two minutes and six minutes respectively in those games.

Since the Diamond Head Classic game against St Mary's, Williams has scored in double figures in every game since, except the one point loss at home to Ole Miss, where he scored nine points all on free throws (he was 0-10 from the field).   Including the game against the Tigers, Williams has averaged eighteen points per game over his last fourteen games.  Over his last five games, he is averaging twenty two points per game, shooting a terrific forty three percent from beyond the arc and an awesome ninety six percent from the free throw line, which leads the nation among those that qualify.

Early in the second half, Williams would get the Gamecocks within two, 42-40 with another three pointer.  A little later, Notice would again keep South Carolina within two with a layup, 44-42.  But from there, things got out of hand defensively for the Gamecocks.

Over the span of four minutes, Auburn went on a 16-2 run.  Again it was the duo of Denson and Harrell doing most of the damage.  Denson and Harrell would combine for eleven of the sixteen points.  Payne would cap the run nailing a three pointer to put the Tigers up 60-44 with 13:20 left in the game.

Auburn was scoring at will on South Carolina, as the Tigers made nine of their first eleven shots in the second half.  Try as they might, Notice and Sindarius Thornwell could not handle guarding Denson and Harrell one on one.  But that's OK if you are getting help on defense.

The problem was that the Gamecocks' front court was not helping out on defense.  South Carolina also does not have a shot blocking presence in the middle.  The Gamecocks would only have three blocks on the night, which is line with their average per game, 3.9 blocks, which puts them eleventh in the SEC in that category.

Despite their defensive struggles in the halfcourt, the Gamecocks would mount a furious rally, started by, who else, Williams.  He would hit two free throws, then bury a three pointer to cut the lead to eleven, 60-49.  Meanwhile the Gamecocks switched to a press, which completely throw off Auburn.  The Tigers would commit six turnovers in a span of three and a half minutes.

This would result in an 18-2 run by the Gamecocks.  Williams would score twelve of those points and a Mindaugas Kacinas layup would tie the game at sixty two with a little under eight minutes left, much to the delight of a now raucous Colonial Life Arena.  When the Tigers went up sixteen, one of the season ticket holders in front of me was so frustrated by the Gamecocks play, he left.  His friend of forty years sitting next to him stayed and credited the guy leaving with starting the rally, noting "Maybe he shouldn't come back here the rest of the season".

But a Shamsid-Deen dunk would put Auburn back up 64-62.  Notice had a chance to tie the game, but missed one of two free throws to make the score 64-63.  From there it was the Denson and Harrell show.  Denson made a three point play and then later hit two free throws to put Auburn up 69-63.  Then Harrell scored the Tigers' next eight points to keep the Auburn lead at six, 77-71.   The Gamecocks would get within three, 77-74 with twenty three seconds left on what else, a Williams three pointer.  But that was the last points on the game for South Carolina as Auburn won 79-74.

Williams had another terrific offensive night with twenty nine points on ten of fourteen shooting from the field, including six of ten from beyond the arc.  Kacinas came off the bench to score fourteen points and Notice added twelve points.  Thornwell struggled from the field shooting three of sixteen, but he did have nine assists and four steals to go with his eight points.

Williams, however, could not match the Auburn duo of Denson and Harrell.  They each had twenty five points, combining to shoot seventeen of thirty from the field and twelve of fifteen from the line.  The Tigers got help from Shamsid-Deen, who had twelve points and Payne added nine of his own.  Auburn shot fifty two percent from the field, including a blistering sixty seven percent in the second half (14 of 21).

During his post game talk with Demetra, Martin called his team defense "selfish" as in there was no help defense for Thornwell and Notice on Denson and Harrell.  As I noted at the beginning of the article, Martin noted that Auburn's game plan was simple, to get the ball to Denson and Harrell.  But he also noted his team didn't do what was necessary to follow the game plan.

Staring at a 1-8 record in conference with a road game upcoming at Tennessee, South Carolina needs to right the ship soon.   They are solidly in last place in the SEC, two games behind Auburn and Alabama. There needs to be more help on D if they want to get a W.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Night of Cold Shots in Spartanburg (Recap of Kennesaw State v. USC Upstate)

And that's a cold shot, baby
Yeah that's a drag
That's a cold shot, baby
We've let our love go bad

"Cold Shot" by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Earlier this week, it was cold enough in South Carolina that the entire state either saw sleet, freezing rain or snow on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, causing schools to close and delay openings for several days and a good number of accidents on state highways.  Columbia picked up three inches of snow.

The snowstorm didn't do as much damage to South Carolina as it did in Georgia.  It was so icy that roads became impassable.  Cars barely moved on roads for hours.  All of the major highways in Atlanta became scenes from the Walking Dead as cars were abandoned by people who walked to nearby hotels and even strangers' houses who offered to put up people for the night thanks to a Facebook page.

It also resulted in the postponement of several games including the Kennesaw State - USC Upstate game Thursday night because the Owls couldn't get out of Georgia due to the condition of the roads.  Thus the game was rescheduled for Friday night at the Hodge Center, which allowed me to attend the game.

Earlier in the season, Kennesaw State knocked off USC Upstate at home 68-58.  In that game, the Owls had four players in double figures scoring, shot forty three percent from beyond the arc and hit on twenty one of their twenty five free throws.  Kennesaw State led by as much as eighteen points as they won their first and only game so far this season in Atlantic Sun conference play.  Friday night would turn out to be a much different matter.

I left work at 5:00 PM and made the ninety plus minute trip from Columbia to Spartanburg.  One of the interesting things about the Hodge Center is that they offer general admission as well as reserved seating, which is kind of unusual since the gym only holds 818.   But if general admission is available, you can sit in the A section mid level for eight dollars.  The only difference is that you are not sitting center court but on one of end of the court, which is no big deal. Throw in a over-buttery pretzel for two dollars and you have yourself a relatively inexpensive evening.

Despite missing second leading scorer Ty Greene to an injury, the Spartans jumped out early thanks to Ricardo Glenn's aggressive post play.  Glenn scored six of the first ten USC Upstate points. A pretty feed by Fred Miller resulted in a "Big Mike" Buchanan layup as the Spartans led 10-6. Meanwhile, Kennesaw State's three point shooting was as icy as the Atlanta roads on Tuesday.  In the first three and a half minutes, they missed all four of their three point attempts.

But the Owls responded with a 7-0 spurt.  After a three point play by Nate Rucker, Yonel Brown assisted on an Orlando Coleman layup to give Kennesaw State a 13-10 lead with a little over twelve minutes left in the half.  Brown, very generously listed at five foot nine, was serenaded by the Spartans' student section with a chant of "Little Boy" every time he touched the ball.

The teams would trade the lead and cold spells several times over the next several minutes.  The Owls would go four plus minutes without hitting a basket as Glenn would give the Spartans a 14-13 lead.  It would be a reserve forward that would break the scoring drought for Kennesaw State.

Willy Kouassi, a six foot ten sophomore forward who went scoreless in fourteen minutes of action in the first game between the teams, gave the Owls a much needed inside scoring presence.  Over the span of about three and a half minutes, Kouassi would score eight points and assist on another basket.   His jumper gave Kennesaw State a 24-22 lead at the under four minute media timeout.

For some reason, the Spartans had moved away from getting the ball inside to Glenn and settled instead for three point shots that equally matched the Owls' frigid shooting beyond the arc.  USC Upstate missed on all ten of their three point attempts in the first half.   The Owls had six of the last eight points that were scored in the last three minutes and forty two seconds of the half.  Kennesaw State limped into the half with a 28-26 lead.

The two teams combined to miss on all seventeen of their three point attempts in the first half.  Thanks to Kouassi hitting on five of his first six field goal attempts, Kennesaw State shot thirty eight percent despite missing all seven of their shots beyond the arc.  USC Upstate only shot thirty four percent and also missed on three of their seven free throws.  Both teams had eleven field goals in the first half and the difference was two more free throws by the Owls.

In the second half, after Kouassi made one of two free throws, Spartans' forward Torrey Craig FINALLY hit the first three pointer of the game by both teams, which tied the game at twenty nine.  But once again, both teams would hit a cold spell as there was no scoring whatsoever over the next two and half plus minutes.  Delbert Love would eventually hit a layup to give Kennesaw State a 31-29 lead with sixteen minutes left.

But it would be the last field goal the Owls would make for the next five minutes as Myles Hamilton would do all their scoring with four free throws.  Despite that, the Spartans couldn't take advantage.   After a Jodd Maxey layup for USC Upstate, the game was tied at thirty five.  Hamilton would finally end Kennesaw State's field goal drought with a layup to put the Owls back up 37-35.  After Fred Miller gave the Spartans the lead back with a three pointer, Bernard Morena would respond with a basket and Kennesaw State had a 39-38 lead with ten minutes left.

It would be the last lead of the game for the Owls.

USC Upstate got the ball back inside to Glenn, who was fouled and made two free throws.  Then Craig  got the crowd of six hundred plus into the game by burying another three pointer. Maxey followed with a jumper to put the Spartans up 45-39 and Kennesaw State called a thirty second timeout.   Two Hamilton free throws stemmed the tide for a little bit as the Owls were only down four, 45-41.

But Glenn again was big, hitting a layup and one.  His three point play extended the lead to seven 48-41.  Four USC Upstate free throws later made the score 52-41.   The Spartans had outscored the Owls 14-2 over the span of four and half minutes.

A Karim Mawuenyega three pointer extended the USC Upstate lead to fourteen, 57-43.  Mawuenyega was fouled on his next three point shot attempt, which went in and out, much to the dismay of the Spartans' fans.  Instead of a potential four point play, Mawuenyega had to settle for three free throw attempts.  Unfortunately, he missed on all three attempts.

All that was left was whether Kennesaw State would actually hit a three pointer.  Taylor Wozniak finally made one to make the score 57-46.  But it was the only one the Owls hit on the day as they were an Antarctic one of fourteen from beyond the arc.  USC Upstate would go onto win 65-48.

In the three games I have now seen USC Upstate play in person, Glenn has had a double double in each of them.  He led all scorers with nineteen points and added twelve rebounds.  Craig also had a double double with sixteen points and eleven rebounds. Maxey added twelve points for the Spartans who shot thirty eight percent from the field, including a frosty four of twenty one from beyond the arc.

Kouassi, who hails from the Ivory Coast, also had a double double, leading the Owls with fifteen points and eleven rebounds. The career high fifteen points matched his output from his previous game, a loss to Florida Gulf Coast.  Hamilton was the only other Owl in double figures with ten points.  The Owls only shot thirty one percent from the field and were not exactly on fire from the line as they only made thirteen of their twenty one free throws.

USC Upstate now finds itself in fourth place in the Atlantic Sun with a 5-4 conference record.  They have a chance to improve their standing in the A-Sun when they host first place Mercer on Sunday.  The temperature on Sunday in South Carolina should be close to seventy degrees.

Hopefully the warm front will mean warmer shooting at the Hodge Center.