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Dec. 14, 2003

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Taking a week off for final exams, USC will play at Temple on Monday, Dec. 15 at 7:00 pm. USC, a perfect 8-0 this season, will play the Owls as the third of three road games prior to the returning home for a six-game stand. On the road the past two games, USC defeated The Citadel 70-38 Dec. 3 and Clemson 76-61 Dec. 6.

It will be USC’s first trip to Temple since they lost to the Owls 63-50 on December 19, 1987. Temple is the second Atlantic 10 opponent that Gamecocks have faced this year. USC defeated Richmond in the Guardians Classic Championship game in Kansas City. Carolina is 48-31 all-time against Atlantic 10 opponents. Since 2001-02, South Carolina is 25-7 overall against non-conference opponents in the regular season.

Temple, 2-4, defeated Penn State 67-56 on Saturday evening prior to the Gamecocks coming to town on Monday. Temple is led by 32-year coaching veteran John Chaney. Chaney sports a 470-214 record in his 22 years with the Owls. The Owls were 18-16 in 2002-03, including 10-6 in the Atlantic 10 and return four starters and five letterwinners from that team. The team advanced to the third round of the NIT Tournament.

USC is 7-4 lifetime against Temple, with the series dating back to 1970 (a 79-71 win by USC on Feb. 4, 1970). After winning the first five match-ups with the Owls, USC is just 2-4 since 1980. This will be the first time that South Carolina has faced Temple in back to back years since the 1981 and 1982 seasons. The series is tied 2-2 in Philadelphia. USC Coach Dave Odom is 5-1 all-time against Temple, with the only loss coming in 1998 while at Wake Forest (a 48-59 loss in New York City in a Coaches vs. Cancer game).

The Graduates

Is it possible for two players to graduate in one city at 3:30 pm and then be dressed and ready to play in a major college basketball game in another city at 7 pm? It is if you are South Carolina’s Mike Boynton, Jr. and IVAN HOWELL. The two seniors will receive their diploma’s on Monday in The Colonial Center and then hop on a plane for Philadelpia – with hopes of them arriving by game-time.

Boynton has started all eight wins this season and is averaging 8.8 ppg. An African-American Studies major, is graduating in three and half years – a fact Odom says is ‘unheard of in college basketball’. He will be the first Boynton male to gradutate from college.

Howell, a Retailing major, finishes his degree in four and half years and expects more than 60 family members in attendance on Monday.

Eight is Great

Carolina currently has an eight-game winning streak to start the 2003-04 season. The longest winning streak at SC under Coach Odom was five. The eight game winning streak is the longest winning streak for USC since USC rolled off 12 straight from December 30, 1996 to February 8, 1997. The 12 straight is tied for the third longest in USC history.

The eight game winning streak is Carolina’s longest under Odom. The previous long was five games from December 8, 2001 to December 30, 2001. The Gamecocks have posted four straight wins four times under Odom.

The only team to ever start the season at least 8-0 was the 1970-71 team (see below) and the 1933-34 team, that started the year 17-0, losing the second to last game of the year.

USC hadn’t started 7-0 since the the 1971-72 season under legendary coach Frank McGuire. The 7-0 start in 1971 included wins over Auburn, California and Virginia Tech. That team ended up 24-5 and lost to Villanova in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

The next hurdle would be 9-0 — which the 1970-71 team. That team went to the NCAA East Regionals and won the ACC Conference Tournament.

Boynton’s got braggin’ rights

Undefeated in four years against Clemson, senior Mike Boynton, Jr., had a hand in each of the wins, playing an average of more than 16 minutes a game in the four wins over the Tigers. USC’s 76-61 win was Carolina’s fourth straight over the Tigers. All four wins have all been double digit victories. The win improved Coach Dave Odom to 22-8 overall against Clemson. In the past four years USC has defeated Clemson by an average of more than 16 points – with the Gamecocks scoring 77.3 ppg and Clemson scoring 61.0 ppg.

Boynton leads the first senior class since 1968-71 to a four-year sweep of arch-rival Clemson. That senior class swept Clemson twice a year for four years and also defeated the Tigers for a third time in 1970 at the ACC Tournament.

Some of the nation’s finest

USC is in the top 16 of four categories nationally (see the chart on page three for all rankings nationally). USC is No. 3 in field goal defense (34.5%), No. 8 in steals with 12.3 spg, No. 14 in scoring defense at 56.5 ppg and No. 16 in blocked shots at 16.3 bpg.

The NCAA releases the stats weekly with Dec. 8 being the first time.

RPI – Sagarin Rankings

USC is ranked No. 22 (85.22) in the latest Sagarin ratings (12-14-03). In the SEC, only Vanderbilt (7th) and Kentucky (18th) are ranked higher than USC.

On, USC is ranked No. 88 – the 7th best in the SEC. The SEC holds down the top two of three rankings with Kentucky No. 1 and Vanderbilt No. 3. The nation’s No. 1 team this week, Florida, is ranked No. 38.

On, USC’s RPI is No. 68 but its strength of schedule is rated at 261. In both polls this week USC received votes. USC received eight votes in the AP poll and 10 votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.

If and Only

You won’t catch the USC coaching staff or players looking ahead to 9-0, but why not just find out when it last happened for the Garnet and Black?

In 1970-71 USC started the season 9-0, finishing at 23-6 and advancing to the NCAA East Regional.

The best start ever was in 1933-34 when USC went 18-1. That team won its first 17 games of the year. Their only loss was to N.C. State in the second to last game of the year at the Southern Conference Tournament (24-43).

But his best is a few games away

This season’s 8-0 start is the best for USC under Coach Odom, but not Odom’s best start as a head coach. It would take five more wins – through the Appalachian State game on Jan. 2, to equal his best start ever as head coach. His 1996-97 Wake Forest team went 13-0 before finishing the season at 24-7 and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In Odom’s last season at Wake, his team started the season at 12-0, finishing at 19-11 with another NCAA Tournament bid.

Double-Double, Double-Double

Carlos Powell’s career-best 23 points against Clemson marked the 38th time that he has scored in double figures in his career. He is on quite a roll to start off the year, scoring in double figures eight times this season. He is averaging a-team leading 14.9 ppg and a team-leading 8.1 rpg. He has blocked 1.1 shots per game and has 1.8 spg.

Powell added the fifth double-double of his career against Richmond when he scored 12 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. He also tallied five blocks and one steal.

He posted a double-double against Gardner Webb in the first game of the year this season.

Diaper Dandies: Fab Five

USC brought in five newcomers this year – four freshmen (Renaldo Balkman, Brandon Wallace, Paulius Joneliunas and Tre Kelley) and one JUCO transfer, Josh Gonner. Thus far in the 2003-04 campaign USC is averaging 74.9 ppg. The Fab Five are averaging over 36 percent of the Gamecocks points with 27.1 ppg as a collective group with only Paulius Joneliunas looking for the first points of his career. The five have also scored in double figures 10 times the first six games (Gonner and Balkman three times, and Kelley and Wallace twice).

Helping out with the boards too, the Gamecocks average 39.6 rebounds per contest with the five averaging 13.9 rpg amongst themselves – good enough for over 35 percent of the rebounds.

Wallace has the Fab Fives only double-double of the year, collecting 10 points and 11 rebounds against The Citadel on Dec. 3.