Frank Martin says it's getting older. As South Carolina dug a hole early before waking up and rallying an SEC opponent, this recent trend does not rejuvenate the 52-year-old Gamecocks coach.
His hair is fine. His voice becomes more hoarse.
USC was back on Tuesday against Ole Miss. Instead of putting an end to their insensitive habits and rolling the Rebels from the first board, the Gamecocks played their story. They could not break the basket lid on one side and let everything move on the other. SEC's coveted fourth place was at stake and getting an 11-point deficit in less than four minutes was not ideal.
But remember, here's how Carolina comes in 2019. If you were nervous, you're not paying attention.
Register and save
Get six months of free digital access at The State
The Gamecocks defeated the Rebels 79-64 in front of a crowd of 10,455 at Colonial Life Arena. Chris Silva scored 18 points, Hassani Gravett and A.J. Lawson added 15 each and Martin became grayer.
"Let's try to find a way to go up 13-2 and not 13-2," said Martin. "It would be a lot easier on things."
USC (14-12, 9-4) edged Ole Miss (18-8, 8-5) to finish fourth in the league standings. The win is Carolina's fifth this season SEC after losing two figures.
Perhaps because he was used to it – or perhaps because he did not see any glaring problems – Martin said he had better managed the anticipated deficit on Tuesday than in previous similar confrontations against Florida, Vanderbilt , Arkansas and Texas A & M.
"I felt completely different today, when we were 13-2, compared to previous games," said Martin. "Completely different because I thought our defense was very good. In attack, we were blocked and attacked – we were missing only shots.
Martin believed that the Rebels were making jumpers while the Gamecocks lacked a good appearance. When these things reversed, South Carolina hardly looked back.
In the last 16 minutes of the first half, USC beat Ole Miss, 38-19. He scored 13 of 16 goals in the campaign during one sequence, including the 3-run points of Silva and Gravett, who completed a 16-0 run and allowed the Gamecocks to climb 18-13.
"We knew we needed to increase the intensity," said Silva. "So our guys got the same page and we just put it in place."
Ole Miss made her first five shots, then a dramatic eight-minute drought. USC limited the number of shots to the Rebels to 37.1 percent, the lowest of any of its Carolina opponents in the SEC.
"Probably the best 40 minutes of defensive basketball we've played in a long time," Martin said. "Which, again, shows me how much these kids are connected to what we are trying to do."
Lawson finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three wins at the top of his team. There was only 5:39 left in the first period, but the rookie had a slam handed in two hands that caused a frenzy at CLA.
The house rocked again in the second half when the Gamecocks, after Ole Miss made it 61 to 9 seconds before the end of the match, went ahead with a 9-0 run that put everything away from the match.
USC, the SEC's leader in this category, was again prolific beyond the bow, reaching 47% of 3. Gravett hit two daggers in the 5:29 final.
"Give Frank and South Carolina a whole lot of credit," said Miss Ole's coach, Kermit Davis. "They beat us. We took the lead and they totally killed us, like men among boys. … We had a draw, but we just could not stop. "
Irmo's Devontae Shuler started and scored six points for the Rebels.
South Carolina will then travel to the state of Mississippi on Saturday.
The score of the box
SOUTH CAROLINA 79, MISSISSIPPI 64
Olejniczak 1-3 1-2 3, Shuler 2-7 1-2 6, Tyree 7-15 5-7 19, T.Davis 6-17 4-6 18, B.Hinson 3-10 0-0 8, Stevens 1-5 0-0 2, Naylor 1-2 0-0 2, Buffen 2-2 0-0 4, D.Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Rodriguez 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 23-62 13-19 64.
SOUTH CAROLINA (14-12)
Kotsar 1-5 0-4 2, Bryant 4-6 2-2 10, Silva 5-13 6-6 18, Lawson 5-14 4-8 15, Campbell 3-9 1-28, Haase 2-4 0 -0 5, Frink 3-4 0-1 6, Gravett 4-9 3-4 15. Totals 27-64 16-27 79.
Halftime_South Carolina 40-32. 3-point goals_Mississippi 5-23 (B.Hinson 2-5, T.Davis 2-8, Shuler 1-4, Stevens 0-2, Tyree 0-4), South Carolina 9-19 (Gravett 4-6, Silva 2-3, Haase 1-2, Lawson 1-4, Campbell 1-4). Out_Olejniczak dirty. Rebounds_Mississippi 33 (Buffen 8), South Carolina 40 (Lawson 9). Assists_Mississippi 10 (Tyree 5), South Carolina 15 (Lawson 6). Total Fouls_Mississippi 22, South Carolina 15. A_10.455 (18,000).
Who: South Carolina to Mississippi State
When: 18h Saturday 23 February
Or: Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Mississippi
TV: SEC network