Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. He filed this report after Saturday’s South Carolina-Arkansas game in Columbia. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.
A 40-11 run enabled South Carolina to erase a big early deficit and then some against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks outrebounded the Razorbacks 42-26. They only turned the ball over five times in the first half. USC even shot almost 60 percent from beyond the arc, but it was something slightly more intangible that led the Gamecocks to a 75-54 victory over Arkansas. Point guard Bruce Ellington’s leadership in the huddle and on the court gave Frank Martin’s squad the boost it needed to succeed. Football has limited Ellington’s ability to spend quality practice time with his team, but he’s doing a lot of catching up now.
Down 15-3 with 15:39 left in the first half, Martin turned to his team during the first media timeout and said, “this ain’t good.” And after that, the coach did something he doesn’t often do, he stayed quiet. What happened next could eventually define Martin’s first season in Columbia. “And then Bruce did most of the talking. Just wanted to make sure we stayed on the same page and we’re good.” Ellington played football for Steve Spurrier in the fall before re-joining the Gamecocks’ basketball team last month. He missed valuable practice time, but Martin trusts his leadership skills. “He’s got that personality, he’s got that demeanor. If you’re an athlete and guys have been practicing for three months, you can’t walk in the first day and open your mouth. Now he’s been with us a little while. He’s better understanding what we’re supposed to do.”