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Jan. 19, 2004

South Carolina is ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll released today. It is the first time the Gamecocks have been ranked in the top 25 nationally since the final poll of the 1998 season when they finished the year ranked No. 14 (no. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today poll). The same year, 1998, they were as high as No. 5 for three straight weeks (Nov. 5-Dec. 9, 1997). The year before they were as high as No. 4 on March 4, 1997. The highest ranking ever dates back to 1970- no. 2 (preseason – for six straight weeks til jan. 19).

The ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll did not show the Gamecocks in the top 25.

Monday evening USC Head Coach Dave Odom, who won his 50th game at the Gamecock helm on Saturday, commented on the ranking.

“This is the first for USC – but also the first for anybody on our team,” said Odom. “The first time anyone has been on a ranked team. I am pleased for the team – pleased that they put themselves in this position to be ranked. I can’t think of a team that deserves this more than this team for what they did.

“I am delighted and happy for the fans as well. They are starved for something good right now – they want this program to be all that it can be. It’s good for the city and the whole state.

“It’s my job now to keep it up, to keep them grounded because it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. We aren’t at the start of the season, but we are a long way from the end of the finish. You want to sustain the ranking and build on it. When you look at the polls, it’s great to be where you are at the present, but it doesn’t say where you’ll end up. Our competitors might look closer now, it puts a bulls-eye on your chest.

“It is my intention, my job to keep this team hungry, humble and to move straight ahead and see where it’ll lead us.”

USC will play LSU on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 at the Colonial Center in a game that Coach Odom said “The Colonial Center will be the place to be for those two hours on that night in this state. It’s gonna be great and I expect our crowd to be there with us.”