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March 11, 2003

South Carolina would like nothing better than to make it three in a row against Mississippi, when the two teams collide in the first game of the SEC Tournament on Thursday, March 13 at 12:00 pm (CT).

USC was to play Alabama, but with Georgia’s decision to not play in the SEC or NCAA Tournaments on Monday, the bracket was re-drawn. The winner will play SEC Western Division winner Mississippi State, who received a first round bye, on Friday, March 14 at 12:00 pm (CT). The SEC Tournament is being played in New Orleans at the Louisiana Superdome, also the site of this year’s NCAA Final Four.

South Carolina leads the overall series with Ole Miss, 9-8, including a 4-1 series edge at neutral sites. USC got the best of Ole Miss last year in the SEC Tournament first round, coming away with a 69-67 win.

The two teams have quite a history in the SEC Tournament as well. This will be their fifth meeting in the tournament with the following results for the first four meetings: 1994, USC, 80-57, first round; 1998, USC, 87-77, second round; 1999, UM, 60-64, first round; and 2002, USC 69-67, first round.

USC, 12-15 and 5-11 in the SEC, will be looking to make the second round for the fourth straight year. The past three years USC has defeated Mississippi (2002, 69-67), Mississippi State (2001, 69-62) and Alabama (2000, 69-59) in the first round.

“While it is hard to say that I am surprised by Monday’s announcements released out of the SEC office and the University of Georgia, it is still very difficult to digest given the fact that I do not have all the details that went into the decision,” said USC Head Coach Dave Odom. “Thus, we will turn our attention immediately to Ole Miss and hope that we can focus only on that assignment. I have total confidence that our team will make the adjustment quickly. After all, we will need the same great effort to defeat Ole Miss that was required to defeat Alabama.”

Mississippi, 13-14 and 4-12 in the SEC, is led by Justin Reed, who is averaging 14.8 ppg – 12th best in the SEC. The Rebels are led by Rod Barnes, who is in search of both his 100th UM and career victory against the Gamecocks.

Barnes commented on the changed opponent due Georgia’s not participating in the tournament. “First, I feel sorry for the kids at Georgia. The kids have worked so hard and played well enough to go to the NCAA Tournament, and then they don’t get that opportunity now. I especially feel for Ezra Williams, who is a senior this year. As far as the change (in the bracket) for us, we’re just looking at the tournament as an opportunity for us. Both teams (Tennessee and South Carolina) beat us earlier this year, so basically, we need to be prepared to play. We haven’t played well enough over the past six weeks to be concerned about our opponent more than about ourselves. Our kids seem to have some confidence now and are excited about playing in the tournament.”

high noon shoot-outs

When Coach Odom saw the revised bracket on Monday night, he commented that the Gamecocks “would have high noon showdowns all the way through the bracket.” USC plays Mississippi at Noon on Thursday, if they win, they would play Mississippi State at Noon on Friday. If they would win that game, they would play in game 9 at Noon on Saturday and the SEC Championship game is slated for Noon on Sunday (CBS).

practice and meeting with the media

South Carolina will practice on Wednesday, March 12 at the Superdome from Noon-1 pm (CT). They will then be hosted at the SEC Tournament Press Conference from 1-1:30 pm (CT). USC will bring two players and Coach Odom to the press conference. Mississippi will meet with the media from 12:30-1 pm and then practice from 1-2:00 pm (both times central).

The practices on Wednesday are open to all media, but closed to the public. The media luncheon is 11 am – Noon at the Superdome.

bayou state results

South Carolina is 15-10 (.600) in the state of Louisiana, including 6-6 lifetime in New Orleans (1-1 in the SEC Tournament). USC is 3-3 in Baton Rouge, 1-0 in Sewanee and 5-1 in Shreveport.

them vs. usc

Over the years, South Carolina has a 141-196 (.418) record against teams in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks are 83-71 (.539) at home, but are just 42-107 (.281) on opponents’ home floors.

Since joining the SEC, Carolina is 76-118 (.392) in regular-season league games and 88-128 (.407) overall including postseason contests (USC played LSU in the 1996 Maui Invitational, and Alabama and Vanderbilt in the 1996 postseason NIT).

Overall, South Carolina is 53-75 (.414) in games against SEC East squads since the league went to a divisional alignment when the Gamecocks and Arkansas joined the league in 1992. The Gamecocks are 35-53 (.398) against SEC West teams in that same span.

The Gamecocks are 10-11 in the SEC Tournament as well.

odom at conference tournaments

Gamecock first-year head coach Dave Odom is 11-12 in his career in conference championship tournaments. He was 0-1 while at East Carolina, losing in the 1982 ECAC-South Tournament. He went 9-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, with Wake Forest winning the 1995 and 1996 titles and his Demon Deacon teams advancing to at least the semifinals five times. Last season he saw the Gamecocks make the semi-finals of his first SEC Tournament, posting a 2-1 record.

gamecocks in sec, conference tournaments

South Carolina is 10-11 all-time in the SEC Tournament, with four semifinal and one finals appearance in 11 seasons (complete details to the left). All-time, South Carolina is 35-53 in conference championship tournaments, going 10-18 in the Southern Conference classic (1922-52), 13-17 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament (1953-71), and 3-8 in the Metro Conference Tournament (1983-91). Carolina captured the 1933 SoCon and 1971 ACC tourney titles.

All told in conference tournaments, USC has won two championships, been the runner-up four times and made it to the semi-finals 16 times.

call-in show

Dave Odom’s radio show, normally broadcast on Thursday’s from 7-8:00 pm, will be broadcast this week on Wednesday night, 7-8:00 p.m., due the Carolina-Alabama game Thursday night. For radio listings see page 14.

making the best of the tournament

USC has advanced to the second round of the SEC Tournament three straight years. All told, since joining the SEC in 1992, USC has advanced to the second round seven of 11 times, including seven of the last nine years. They have also advanced to the semi-finals twice (2000: lost to Auburn in OT, 72-77 and; 2002: lost to Alabama, 57-65) and the finals once (1998 – lost to Kentucky 58-86).

get healthy quick!

The guy lists red beans and rice as his favorite food. Does that tell you he might be a bit cajun?

New Orleans native Kerbrell Brown suffered a high ankle sprain late in the Alabama game on March 5. He dressed for the Georgia game, but did not play. Brown wants to play in front of the home crowd and is listed as probable for Thursday’s Alabama game. Brown played at O.P. Walker High School before heading out to Dodge City Community College in Kansas. He was a two-time All-Metro and All-Westball squad honoree his junior and senior years at Walker.

Brown will be joined at the SEC Tournament by his mother, Mary Calloway, and nine brothers and sisters (his father, Albert Brown, passed away when Brown was a youngster).

tv time

The Carolina-Mississippi game is the school’s 15th television appearance this season. USC is 6-8 record on television in 2002-03. USC is 27-48 lifetime on Jefferson-Pilot, including 1-3 this season.

USC is 39-49 in televised games in its history at neutral sites. The Gamecocks play at a neutral site for the first time this season in New Orleans.

on the sidelines

Freshman Tarence Kinsey broke a bone in his right foot during play in the Alabama game and will be sidelined for the rest of the season. Kinsey had been suffering from a stress fracture in the same foot.

Kinsey will undergo surgery next week to repair the fracture and is expected to begin play again this summer.

Kinsey is averaging 2.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 0.60 apg in 20 games played. He started three games and averaged 8.8 mpg.