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Does Arkansas Have the Moxie to End This One Quickly Or Are We in for a Pillow Fight?

Terrible shooting makes South Carolina vulnerable, but Gamecocks have ability to land one magical punch each time they hit the floor

South Carolina can be dangerous. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, it's more like Mike Tyson entering the ring against Tyson Fury next weekend dangerous, not the terror that was Iron Mike back in 1988. 

The Gamecocks still have that one haymaker they can land at any time, but anything beyond that one magical moment is going to lead to disaster.

Frank Martin's team has a major shooting problem, which means if the Hogs can get its core five off to a hot start tonight, it's highly unlikely the Gamecocks can run them down. 

Then again, Arkansas has a habit of pulling its punches against teams it has the talent to beat. 

The Razorbacks will either turn this into the first time you reached the championship level against Iron Mike in Punch-Out, where suddenly a quick flash uppercut you were in no way prepared to combat sent you crashing to the canvas immediately, or it's going to be that "fight" where two kids at school who don't know how to fight were pressured into going at it, only to kinda roll around on the ground awkwardly until everyone else walked away out of boredom and disgust.

South Carolina got off to a good start. They pocketed wins against traditionally solid programs by taking down Western Kentucky, UAB, Georgetown and Florida State.

South Carolina Gamecocks forward Keyshawn Bryant (24) passes around Georgetown Hoyas center Ryan Mutombo (21) in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. The 80-67 win was part of a late fall hot streak where the Gamecocks won 7-of-8 with wins over Western Kentucky, UAB and Florida State in addition to the Hoyas.

South Carolina Gamecocks forward Keyshawn Bryant (24) passes around Georgetown Hoyas center Ryan Mutombo (21) in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. The 80-67 win was part of a late fall hot streak where the Gamecocks won 7-of-8 with wins over Western Kentucky, UAB and Florida State in addition to the Hoyas.

Then things got wobby heading into Christmas break and have been so ever since. The Gamecocks knocked off a Vanderbilt team that was coming off an upset of Arkansas in Bud Walton, but that's been about it in the new year.

When South Carolina loses, it's ugly, which, ironically, is the Frank Martin preference for game play. This past week against Tennessee, the Gamecocks shot 34.7% from the field and 35% from the free throw line. 

That's not a misprint. Carolina was basically 1-for-3 from the line. They also only made 17 shots the entire game. 

That would seem to be an anomaly, except the Gamecocks shot the exact same percentage in their next game against Florida in the friendly confines of Colonial Life Arena. 

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South Carolina Gamecocks guard Devin Carter (23) shoots over Florida Gators guard Kowacie Reeves (14) in the first half at Colonial Life Arena.

South Carolina Gamecocks guard Devin Carter (23) shoots over Florida Gators guard Kowacie Reeves (14) in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. Frank Martin looks for his team to make the game as ugly as possible to cancel out the Gamecocks' inability to score with any consistency.

The free throw percentage was technically better at 60%, but that's hard to judge since a lack of aggression led only five free throws the entire game. Instead, the Gamecocks chose to hang back and long-range bomb the Gators with 22 three-point attempts. 

Cold shooting has plagued South Carolina all year. In a loss to Clemson, the Gamecocks shot 32.7%. Go back a little further and you'll find a particularly ugly loss to Coastal Carolina where they shot only 28.6% in a blowout loss to what should be their in-state little brothers.

Free throw percentage has been an issue all year, with a rare 70% performance being the high while 50% appears to be the norm. This gives the Razorbacks free rein to attack the basket relentlessly without worry should that aggressive style put the Gamecocks in the bonus.

Arkansas Razorbacks forward Jaylin Williams (10) dunks the ball in the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas won 87-43. Poor free throw shooting by South Carolina will take pressure off the Hogs to avoid fouls, allowing them to be more aggressive when attacking the basket.

Arkansas Razorbacks forward Jaylin Williams (10) dunks the ball in the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas won 87-43. Poor free throw shooting by South Carolina will take pressure off the Hogs to avoid fouls, allowing them to be more aggressive when attacking the basket.

To put it in perspective, for South Carolina to have a shot at winning, Martin has to hope his team catches fire and pushes up to 40% shooting. At the same time, Arkansas has to hope the Gamecocks don't make things ugly, causing the Hogs to fall off a cliff to 43% shooting.

It's a game Arkansas should win to build momentum and confidence heading into a rematch with Texas A&M this weekend, but fans should be prepared. There's no telling when that uppercut out of nowhere could put this team down for the count.


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