Coach Frank Martin changed his substitution strategy Wednesday night, and the result was a 63-62 win over Ole Miss. The Gamecocks didn't play as many players as they usually do. After the Alabama game, Coach had indicated that not everyone on the bench would play.
Eight players saw action in the win. Carrera, Chatkevicius, Ellington, Smith and Jackson started. Only Slawson, Williams and Richardson came off the bench. Several times during the game it looked like the Gamecocks were gassed, but Coach Martin stuck with his strategy, and it worked.
Eric Smith hit the go ahead three pointer with 25 seconds left. Lakeem Jackson boarded an Ellington miss and kicked out to the wide open Smith. In addition to the game winning shot, Smith had an excellent game. He was second in scoring with 12 points and added 5 assists to only 1 turnover. He was also defending Marshall Henderson for large stretches and held him to 11 points, only 3 in the second half. Henderson was averaging nearly 20 per game.
The Gamecocks did well in not turning the ball over; they only had 10. No one player had more than one. They were only 3 of 8 from the line, but that didn't end up mattering.
Murphy Holloway had a strong outing in his return to the Colonial Life Arena. He had 19 points, 13 rebounds and one thunderous dunk.
South Carolina has been in close SEC games before, and most of the time they came out on the short end of the scoreboard. Some observers thought Coach Martin might be losing the team since there were so many dicouraging results. He specifically refuted that idea in his post game press conference, and based on the product on the floor, it'd be tough to argue.
The team, the program and the fans needed this win. Coach Martin is preaching a different approach to basketball, and it's important to the growth of the program that there be some tangible, positive returns. The Ole Miss win won't get the Gamecocks into the tournament (though it may keep Ole Miss out), but it is a good win against a good team that should give USC some momentum down the stretch.