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Jan. 12, 2004

South Carolina, 14-2, will take a 1-1 record to Auburn for an 8 pm (EST) match-up with the Tigers. The game will be televised on Jefferson-Pilot with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley making the call. USC is 5-1 on TV this year. Last year Auburn defeated USC 67-60 on Jan. 15, 2003 and the Tigers lead the all-time series 15-9 (AU is 7-3 in Auburn).

The Auburn Tigers, 10-3 and 1-1 in the SEC, are coached by 10th year head coach Cliff Ellis. Auburn was 22-12 last year with an 8-8 SEC record. The Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16. They return two starters and eight letterwinners.

Auburn, a very experience squad, is led by juniors Marco Killingsworth (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Brandon Robinson (13.5 ppg and 7.2 rpg).


USC head coach Dave Odom and Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis had these things to say during Monday’s SEC teleconference:

“Auburn is a very, very difficult team for anybody, but particularly playing in Auburn,” said Odom. “They’re playing as well as any Auburn team I’ve seen. The thing that impresses me the most is their front line is as athletic and talented as any I’ve seen. We’re in a situation where we don’t have a lot of size, and…against Auburn that’s very tough.”

“I’m glad we responded after a tough loss against Vanderbilt.” said Ellis. “I think that’s important; we have an experienced front line that’s really set the tone. South Carolina is having a great year.”

Lookin’ back

USC is fresh off an 84-63 drubbing of Georgia in Athens on Saturday. It was the largest win for the Gamecocks since defeating Vanderbilt 66-43 in Nashville on February 16, 2002. It was USC’s largest margin of victory in Athens ever and its largest margin of victory in the series dating back to 1962. The win was USC’s first win in Athens since February 24, 2001.

Against UGA, South Carolina had six players in double figures for the second time this season. The only other time USC recorded this feat was in the season opener against Gardner-Webb.

Rolando Howell got his first start since last year’s SEC Tournament first round game vs. Ole Miss. The game was the first time that Carlos Powell did not start since 3/13/03 against Mississippi in the SEC Tournament. Powell started the first 15 games of the season but he and Renaldo Balkman were held out of their first normal rotation on Saturday after being late to the team’s pregame meal earlier in the day.

Auburn defeated Ole Miss 80-53 at home on Saturday. They shot 55.8% and held the Rebels 41.5%. Marco Killingsworth had his first double-double of the season (16 pts./10 reb.) with Ole Miss’ 53 points being the fewest points they have scored since 1981 against Auburn (46 points that year).

We cracked someone’s top 25!

In this week’s Dunkel Index – self-named the nation’s most accurate sports index since 1929 – USC is listed at No. 25 this week. Louisville is ranked No. 1.

USC is ranked No. 32 in the latest Sagarin ratings (1-13-04) – a season high. It also ranks Carolina’s SOS as 302.

On, USC is ranked No. 82 (1-13-04). On, USC’s RPI is No. 88 but its strength of schedule is rated at 295.

In both polls last week USC received votes (new polls not released yet).

Can we talk about that for one more second?

USC had six season highs as a team against Georgia and four individual highs. USC had a number of season highs as a team:

1. The 66.7% in the first half was the highest field goal percentage in a half this season for Carolina and the highest for USC since shooting 66.7% against Temple in the second half.

2. The 54.5% is the highest shooting percentage of the season for Carolina from the field. The previous high was .509 against Southwest Missouri State on 11/24/03

3. The 23 assists was a season high for USC.

4. USC’s 19 turnovers tied a season high. (11/29/03)

5. USC’s 42 points in the first half is the most in the first half this season

6. 14-point lead at halftime was the largest since USC was up 15 on Vanderbilt on 2/8/03.

Individual highs:

1. Rolando Howell had a season-high 11 points.

2. Kerbrell Brown had a season-high 18 points.

3. Tre Kelley tied his season/career high of five assists. (Campbell 11/29/03)

4. Howell tied his career high with four assists. (Kentucky 11/2/02)

Check those 13 minutes

Playing just 13 minutes total, Kerbrell Brown made the most of them on Saturday in Athens. Brown led the team with a season-high 18 points, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the second half. He was a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the arc.

Tough D

In 12 of 16 games this season, USC’s defense has held opponents to nine or more points under their average. In only three games this season has a team scored more than they have averaged against USC: Gardner-Webb (last year’s average), SMS, Temple. In fact, USC has held 12 of its 16 opponents under 40.0% from the field this year.

Too far, halftime, D-fense

The Gamecocks were five of 29 from behind the arch against the Gators last Wednesday night. The .172 that they shot was a season low for the team in the three point range.

The Florida game was the first game this season that USC has had the lead at halftime and failed to win. The Carolina defense gave up 65 points to the Gators. The 65 is the most points USC has allowed since giving up 71 to Temple on December 15, 2003. It marked the seventh time this season that a team has scored 60 or more points against the Gamecocks. USC has allowed 50 or less points six times this season.

We’re No. 1!

Nationally USC is in the top 25 in seven categories (from Jan. 5): scoring defense (No. 5), scoring margin (No. 17), field goal percentage defense (1st), blocked shots (12th), won lost percentage (11th), turnovers per game (No. 24) and personal fouls (No. 22)

Made to be topped

Last season Chuck Eidson broke the career steals record with 274. What records are in jeporady this year? Three players are on pace to reach career milestones or records. The following is a chart on each.

Player Category Player Stat Record or place of reachable record

Mike Boynton, Jr. Car. Games Played 107 123/1

Mike Boynton, Jr. Car. Steals 98 112/10

Rolando Howell Car. Blocks 57 76/10

Rolando Howell Points 848 1000/41

Carlos Powell Points 809 1000/41

They are quick and they can score

Just a few things heard about USC’s freshmen during the past few games: ‘Those guys are quick.’ ‘They sure our athletic.’ ‘I wouldn’t trade our freshmen for any in the country.’ ‘They are fun to watch!’

USC knew that the freshmen class was going to have to produce in order for the team to be successful this season. If you take a look at the freshmen stats for SEC players, it’s pretty obvious they are contributing in every area.

Renaldo Balkman is in the top 10 of six categories among SEC freshmen. Brandon Wallace and Tre Kelley are also listed in the top 10 in two categories.

Balkman is No. 3 in steals (1.0), No. 3 in blocks (1.3), No. 4 in ppg (7.6), No. 4 in rpg (4.7), No. 9 in field goal percentage (52.9%) and No. 9 in assists (1.1 apg).

Wallace is No. 2 in blocked shots (1.5) and No. 4 on the list in rebounding (4.7 rpg). Kelley is No. 6 in assists (2.0 apg) and No. 10 in points per game (4.6).

Balkman leads the team with 10 dunks. Wallace has the Fab Fives only double-double of the year, collecting 10 points and 11 rebounds against The Citadel on Dec. 3. JUCO transfer Josh Gonner has the highest point total in one game, collecting 19 against N.C. State.

Tops in the SEC Overall

Senior Mike Boynton, Jr. is in the top 10 of five categories this week among the SEC leaders (overall). He is No. 4 in assists (4.0 apg), No. 10 in steals (1.7 spg), No. 2 in three point field goal percentage (42.4%), No. 5 in three pointer made per game (2.3 pg) and No. 6 in assist/turnover ratio (2.0).

Carlos Powell is in the top 20 of three categories: points per game (19th with 14.0 ppg), No. 7 in defensive rebounds (5.1 rpg), No. 12 in rebounding (7.1 rpg) and No. 10 in field goal percentage (49.7%).

Brandon Wallace is eighth is blocked shots (1.5 pg).

As a team USC is No. 1 in five categories in overall SEC stats. USC is No. 1 in scoring defense (56.1) – (leading this category by almost four points), No. 1 in turnover margin (+5.88 pg), No. 1 in field goal defense (35.6 %), No. 1 in blocked shots (6.1 bpg), and No. 1 in three-point field goal defense (24.1%). USC is No. 2 in steals (10.4 spg).