Let’s start with a reality check, because that’s exactly what South Carolina got on Wednesday night at Florida, where it lost 75-36 to the nation’s fourth-ranked team and one that could very well win the national championship. That’s how strong these Gators have looked lately.
USC coach Frank Martin said Tuesday that Florida was “national championship good,” and the Gators certainly appeared it while dismantling the Gamecocks. Florida is now 17-2 and 7-0 in the SEC with conference wins by 33, 22, 21, 31, 17, 35 and 39 points (on Wednesday).
The 17 belongs to USC’s opponent on Saturday afternoon in Columbia – Georgia, which beat Auburn on Wednesday and has won three of its past four games. Martin said on Tuesday that Georgia is playing its best basketball of the season, and he was right about that, just like he was right about Florida’s postseason chances.
Look, despite a 21-point win over Arkansas in its previous game – USC’s largest in an SEC game since 2005-06 – nobody believes that Martin’s first team will contend among the league’s elite. That’s his long-term goal, obviously, but the beating USC took at Florida was a reminder that it remains a distant hope, at least a strong recruiting class or three away.
Most objective observers figured Florida would roll USC, and that’s exactly what happened. The game, because it turned out as expected, was totally meaningless for Florida’s pursuit of a No. 1 seed. And if the Gamecocks can put it behind them and accept it for what it was, the 39-blowout will have zero bearing on how people view Martin’s first season, though it will go down in dubious history for USC, as you can see below in a bit.
Darrin Horn didn’t get fired after last season because he lost by 34 points at home to a Kentucky team that won it all and mowed down far more talented teams along the way. Horn got fired because USC performed so poorly in so many of its other SEC games, en route to 2-14 in league play. This USC squad is now 2-5, with 11 games to go in an expanded league schedule. A 4-7 finish would get the Gamecocks to a winning regular season – a big milestone for this team, which has had five losing overall records in six seasons since it won the 2006 NIT.
Of course, the ridiculous fashion in which Florida beat USC on Wednesday bears mentioning, just as USC’s 21-point win over Arkansas required historical context.
First off, USC has lost five times by at least 47 points in its history, so Wednesday was far from the largest margin of defeat in school history. All of those top five blowout losses occurred in 1930 or earlier, with the exception of a 47-point loss (84-37) at Syracuse in 1998-99. By the way, the largest margin of defeat in USC history was 59 (70-11 at Furman in 1930).
Here now, are USC’s losses (counting all games, league and non-league) by 30-plus points since it joined the SEC in 1991-92 …
47 … at Syracuse, 1998-99 (84-37) … tied for fourth-worst loss in school history
41 … vs. North Carolina in Charlotte, 1992-93 (108-67)
39 … at Florida, 2012-13 (75-36)
38 … vs. Kentucky, 2006-07 (87-49)
37 … vs. North Carolina in Charlotte, 1994-95 (95-58)
34 … at Kentucky, 1998-99 (74-40)
34 … vs. Florida, 2006-07 (84-50)
34 … vs. Kentucky, 2011-12 (86-52)
33 … vs. Kentucky, 2000-01 (94-61)
33 … at Florida, 2002-03 (96-63)
33 … at Tennessee, 2007-08 (89-56)
32 … at Alabama, 1994-95 (91-59)
32 … at Kentucky, 1995-96 (89-57)
31 … at Kentucky, 2010-11 (90-59)
30 … vs. Kentucky, 1998 SEC tournament (86-56)
30 … vs. Arkansas, 2007 SEC tournament (82-52)
— Wednesday was USC’s biggest margin of defeat ever in an SEC game.
— It was USC’s worst loss, period, since 1998-99, and third worst since it joined the SEC.
— It was USC’s 16th loss by 30-plus points since it joined the SEC.
— Of those 16, 13 came against SEC opponents.
— Seven of those 13 games were against Kentucky.
— Three of the other six were against Florida.