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February 16, 2013TUSCALOOSA | For the Alabama basketball team, the talk on Friday was about "winning ugly."
For South Carolina, the Crimson Tide's opponent this afternoon, there has been far more talk about "ugly" than wins. In fact, first-year Gamecock coach Frank Martin made national news with his comments after a blowout home loss to LSU on Thursday night.
"If you take Bruce Ellington off our team, you would probably have 12 leading candidates for the starring roles in 'Night of the Living Dead,' the zombie movie," Martin said. "If this was the NBA, we'd fine them, we'd take their money, we'd release them and tell them 'good luck ever finding another job.'
"I've never been so embarrassed," Martin said in the wake of the LSU loss. "I shouldn't coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays.
"We lead the country in airball layups. If you can't make layups, you aren't going to win."
A five-game losing streak is clearly wearing on Martin, a close friend of Alabama coach Anthony Grant and the former coach at Kansas State (where he recorded two wins over Alabama.) On the Crimson Tide side, an 8-3 record and a share of second place in the SEC has been more palatable, if not winning rave reviews for aesthetics.
"Ugly win beats a pretty loss any day of the week," Grant said. "Bottom line is to get the win."
"You can't control what other people say," UA guard Levi Randolph said. "You have to try to go out there and just get a win. We just try to go out there and do everything that Coach (Grant) asks us to do. A win's a win."
Despite Martin's despair, South Carolina does have two league wins and some capable players. Freshman forward Michael Carrera leads Carolina in points (10.9 ppg) and rebounds (7.2 rpg) for the season. Junior guard Brenton Williams also averages double figures (10.0 ppg) and leads the team in three-point shooting (40 percent).
Ellington, who is also a standout wide receiver on the Gamecocks' football team, averages 9.9 points a contest, and leads South Carolina in steals per game (1.3).
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Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.