The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Beaten by the best: Gamecocks cruise to 96-48 victory over Commodores

South Carolina proved yet again why they are the NCAA’s best, as their No. 1-ranked defense stole the show at Memorial.
Basketball game against South Carolina, as photographed on Jan. 20, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila)

From the jump, the Commodores (9-10, 0-5 SEC) had their hands more than full, hosting the nation’s premier team, the South Carolina Gamecocks (18-0, 6-0 SEC) tonight.

The Gamecocks’ Brea Beal drew first blood in this one with a hard-fought layup, but Marnelle Garraud quickly responded with a smooth shot from downtown to give the Commodores a 3-2 lead. Both teams did a good job of spreading the ball around early in this one, but this clinical play style translated to limited points due to initial strong interior defense by both SEC squads.

Coming out of a timeout, Garraud got right back to work, twice driving to the rim and finishing nicely to give the Commodores a 9-8 lead. The Memorial energy quickly became palpable. South Carolina then got down to business, methodically carving up the Vanderbilt defense with its elite ball distribution skills. These skills, coupled with three Commodore turnovers, allowed the Gamecocks to close the opening quarter on a 10-0 run and take a 18-9 lead.

Despite connecting on none of their three point attempts in the opening quarter — South Carolina’s clear (and possibly only) weakness as a team, they still shot a stellar 53% from the field.

The second quarter began with stifling defenses by both teams. South Carolina’s clear height advantage was a factor on nearly every Vanderbilt field goal attempt from within the painted area. Just a few minutes into the quarter, the Gamecocks had already amassed four blocks. Midway through the second, things began to get out of hand. The Commodores went ice cold from the field (they were 4-18 at that point), while South Carolina continued to find the bottom of the net, extending their lead to 26-9.

While Vanderbilt finally broke their scoreless drought, the Gamecocks continued their fiery scoring onslaught. By the time two minutes were left in the half, their lead was up to 23 points. 

After the conclusion of a quarter where they were outscored 27-8, Vanderbilt headed to the locker room trailing 45-17. One of the glaring stats that explains the disastrous half for the Commodores lies in the rebound numbers, with the Gamecocks out rebounding the Commodores, 25-11. 

South Carolina got right back to work coming out of the break, as senior forward Aliyah Boston nailed a mid-range jumper to start the second half scoring.

After making three field goals in a row late in the third quarter, South Carolina built its lead to a whopping 42. The third quarter was nearly as uneven as the second, with the Gamecocks outscoringVanderbilt by a score of 29-13. Senior South Carolina guard Zia Cooke was dominant in the quarter, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Nothing changed in the fourth quarter for Vanderbilt. They were simply outmatched. South Carolina passed to the interior at will and subsequently converted virtually every layup they attempted.

When the final buzzer sounded in this one, the Gamecocks were lopsidedly victorious by a score of 96-48. The rebounding gap between the teams got even more glaring as the game went on, with the Gamecocks out-rebounding the Commodores by 26 when it was all said and done.

On Vanderbilt’s side of things, Garraud was seemingly the only one who could get anything done, although she still struggled from the field (6-21).

Although South Carolina’s offense came in averaging a staggering 81.7 points a game, its NCAA-best defense (45.6) is what truly sets this team apart. For all the dominating prescenses the Gamecocks have on the floor, they do not have one player in the top 50 NCAA scorers. Their ability to come together as a unit and spread the ball with ease sets them apart every time they take the court.

Vanderbilt will look to regroup and snap what is now a six-game losing streak when they take on Florida in Gainesville on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. CST.

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About the Contributor
Jonah Barbin
Jonah Barbin, Sports Podcast Producer
Jonah Barbin (‘25) is majoring in human and organizational development and cinema and media studies. In addition to writing about sports, you can catch him acting, scouring the fantasy football waiver wire, playing golf and fantasizing about what Odell Beckham Jr.’s career would have been if the Giants never traded him. You can reach him at [email protected].
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