The UC Irvine men’s basketball team will have its hands full when it faces Southeastern Conference powerhouse South Carolina on Nov. 14 at the Bren Events Center. The game is by far the biggest game of the season for the men’s team as the Anteaters (1-1) will look to upset the Gamecocks, the National Invitation Tournament Champions the past two seasons. Coming fresh off a three-game road trip, the Anteaters must come out and play with energy and tenacity if they hope to defeat the Gamecocks (1-0). The following are five key points that the Anteaters must focus on in order to win the game.
Do not turn the ball over.
Last year, the Gamecocks forced more turnovers on the opposing team than they committed themselves. Under Head Coach Dave Odom, South Carolina will play a stifling defense that will attempt to pressure Anteater junior guard Marcus McIntosh and get the ball out of his hands. The Anteaters must also be aware of South Carolina’s full-court press, which they use specifically after made baskets. If the Anteaters have trouble with the press, the Gamecocks will convert many of these unforced errors and turnovers into easy fast-break points. It is essential that the Anteaters play a near-flawless game in regard to handling the ball. If the Anteaters lose the edge in the turnover category, it will be a long night. Put the ball in McIntosh’s hands and let him take care of it. As long as the Anteaters take good care of the ball, they will be right in the game.
Crash the glass.
A big advantage that the Gamecocks will have over the Anteaters will be their size and strength in the low post. Although the Gamecocks lost their best inside player, Renaldo Balkman, to the NBA draft, the Gamecocks still have size, which will allow them to crash the boards and get numerous second-chance opportunities. Anteater center Darren Fells must stay out of foul trouble and keep up with two of South Carolina’s 6 foot, 10 inch players, forward Brandon Wallace and center Ousmane Konate. The Anteater front court will have their hands full all night on the glass as they must continuously box out and run down the loose balls to limit the Gamecocks’ second-chance-poiints.
Make the Gamecocks shoot from the perimeter.
The Gamecocks shot a dismal 34 percent from behind the arc last year and rely primarily on their inside scoring to win games. The Anteaters have to play a good match-up zone defense to prevent South Carolina from scoring a bulk of their points in the paint. The Anteaters must keep the Gamecocks from penetrating the defense and breaking down the zone. By keeping a clean and smooth defensive rotation, Irvine will force perimeter shots and gather in long rebounds, allowing for fast-break opportunities and easy lay ups on the offensive end.
Force the ball out of Tr
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