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Playing the last three games on the road, USC will return home to the friendly confines of the Colonial Center for a six-game home stand. First on the docket: Charleston Southern University on Wednes., Dec. 17 at 7:30 pm. On the road the past three games, USC defeated The Citadel 70-38 Dec. 3 and Clemson 76-61 Dec. 6, before falling to Temple on Dec. 15, 71-61.

Charleston Southern, 2-4, lost to Wofford in overtime, 79-73, on Dec. 13. The Buccaneers are led by eight-year coaching veteran Jim Platt. Platt’s Buccaneers were 14-14 in 2002-03, finishing third in the Big South Conference with an 8-6 record.

USC is 6-1 lifetime against CSU, with the series dating back to 1977 (a 107-75 win by USC on Dec. 7, 1977). After winning the first four match-ups with the Bucs, USC fell 85-81 in 1996 – the same year the Gamecocks won the SEC title. USC has won the last two meetings. USC Coach Dave Odom is 6-0 all-time against CSU, but has not coached a USC team against the Bucs.

USC is 18-3 lifetime against the Big South, with the three losses coming to Charleston Southern, UNC-Asheville and Coastal Carolina.

On the sidelines

Sophomore Tarence Kinsey will not dress for the game against CSU, after suffering a mild concussion against Temple. Kinsey is day to day and expected back for the N.C. State game.

Still recovering from a broken bone in his right foot, the CSU game represents the last game of Rolando Howell’s 12-game suspension. He will be available for the N.C. State but is doubtful. He is not expected to return until early January.

Undefeated at Home

USC is undefeated in non-conference play at The Colonial Center. Since it’s opening last November, the Gamecocks have a perfect 15-0 record. In fact – USC has only dropped four games at The Colonial Center (known last year as the Carolina Center). The losses were to Auburn, No. 6 Florida, No. 6 Kentucky and No. 25 Georgia.

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 was if you were South Carolina’s Mike Boynton, Jr. and IVAN HOWELL. The two seniors received their diploma’s on Monday in The Colonial Center and then hopped on a plane for Philadelphia – with hopes of them arriving by game-time. The two got there just seconds before tip-off. Boynton played 33 minutes, scoring a career high 16 points with four assists and four steals.

Boynton started all eight wins this season and is averaging 9.6 ppg. An African-American Studies major, is graduating in three and half years – a fact Odom says is `unheard of in college basketball’. He was the first Boynton male to graduate from college.

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

Tops in the SEC, NCAA

Senior Mike Boynton, Jr. is in the top 10 of five categories this week among the SEC leaders. He is ninth in assists (4.0 pg), seventh in steals (2.1 spg), third in three point field goal percentage (44.2%), eighth in three pointer made per game (2.1) and 10th in assist/turnover ratio (2.0). Carlos Powell is in the top 20 of both points per game (15th with 14.4 ppg) and No. 8 (8.1 rpg).

As a team USC is No. 1 in three categories and No. 2 in three other categories. USC is No. 1 in turnover margin (+7.00 pg), No. 1 in field goal defense (35.4 %) and No. 1 in three-point field goal defense (26.6%) USC is No. 2 in scoring defense (58.1 ppg), three point field goals made (7.3 pg) and steals (11.78 spg).

Nationally USC is in the top 25 in three categories: scoring defense (ranked No. 21), field goal percentage defense (ranked No. 10) and steals per game (ranked No. 10).

Eight was great

Before falling to Temple on Monday, Carolina had an eight-game winning streak to start the 2003-04 season. The eight game winning streak was the longest winning streak for USC since USC rolled off 12 straight from December 30, 1996 to February 8, 1997.

The eight game winning streak was 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 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 have been 9-0 — which the 1970-71 team accomplished. 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 Clemson 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.


USC is ranked No. 51 in the latest Sagarin ratings (12-17-03).

On, USC is ranked No. 113 – the 10th best in the SEC.

On, USC’s RPI is No. 110 but its strength of schedule is rated at 293. In both polls this week USC received votes.