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Jan. 30, 2004

South Carolina, 18-2 and ranked No. 24 in the AP poll this week and No. 23 by the Coaches Poll, will travel to Oxford, Miss. for a 1 pm (EST) match-up with the Ole MIss Rebels on Saturday, Jan. 31. The game will be broadcast by Jefferson-Pilot with announcers David Steele and Joe Dean, Jr. USC is 7-1 in televised contests this year.

The Gamecocks have won five straight SEC games after dropping its SEC opener to then-No. 14 Florida 62-65. It’s the best start for Carolina in the SEC since the 1997 team won the SEC title with a 15-1 record, with that team winning its first 11 games in the league.

Ole Miss, 10-7 and 2-4 in the SEC, is coming off a Wednesday loss at Kentucky, 71-61.

The Rebels, led by forwards Aaron Harper and Justin Reed, are coached by sixth-year head coach Rod Barnes. Ole Miss was 14-15 last year with a 4-12 SEC record. They returned two starters and seven letterwinners.

Carolina vs. Ole Miss

This is the swing game. The series record between Carolina and Ole Miss is all knotted at nine wins each.

USC shouldn’t expect the red carpet to be rolled out for the team. The Gamecocks are 0-6 all-time in Oxford and 2-20 all-time in the state of Mississippi. In contrast, Ole Miss is 1-5 in Columbia.

USC is ranked No. 24 by the AP poll this week and No. 23 by the ESPN/USC Today Coaches Poll.

In this week’s Dunkel Index – self-named the nation’s most accurate sports index since 1929 – USC is listed at No. 22 this week. Duke is ranked No. 1.

As of Friday, Jan. 30, USC is ranked No. 20 in the Sagarin ratings – its highest ranking of the year. It also ranks Carolina’s SOS as 227. On, USC is ranked No. 42 – a season high (1-30-04) with an SOS of 183. On, USC’s RPI is No. 39 – a season high – and its strength of schedule is rated at 204.

Back to Back to Back

Defeating Georgia, Auburn and Vanderbilt on the road marks the first time USC has won back to back to back games on the road against SEC opponents since the 1996-97 season. That year USC won its first five road games in the SEC, prior to dropping a game at Georgia for its only SEC loss that season. During that streak they defeated the following on the road to make the streak five games in a row: MSU (73-65, 1-11), Florida (80-79, 1-15), Alabama (62-60, 1-22), Vanderbilt (65-64, 1-29) and LSU (80-65, 2-1).

Multiple times, multiple players

USC has only had two games, the Florida loss and the win at Vandy, where they had as few as two players score in double figures. USC has had six players in double figures twice already, not accomplishing this even once last year. Here is the chart of this year, the number of players in double figures and the results.

*2 players: (2x and are 1-1 when only 2 players are in double figures): Florida, Vanderbilt

*3 players: (9x and are 8-1 when 3 players are in double figures): Idaho, The Citadel, Temple, Charleston Southern, NC State, SC State, Yale, Appalachian State, Auburn

* 4 players: (4x and are 4-0 when 4 players are in double figures): Richmond, Campbell, Clemson, Tennessee, LSU

* 5 players: (2x and 2-0 when 5 players are in double figures): Navy, SMS

* 6 players: (2x and 2-0 when 6 players are in double figures): Gardner-Webb, Georgia

Vandy review

USC now leads the series against Vandy, 18-15, and has won 13 of the last 16 games between the two schools. USC has not lost in Nashville to Vanderbilt since the 1998-99 season when the Commodores won 77-66. VU comes to Columbia on Valentine’s Day for a 7:30 pm tilt.

Now that’s some defense

The Gamecocks have held all of their SEC opponents so far to at least 10 points under their total so far this season. The six opponents together have averaged 77.0 points coming into the contest but have only averaged 58.8 against the Carolina defense, 18.2 points under the average.

SEC Opponent Coming In Vs. USC

Florida 84.1 65

Georgia 73.2 63

Auburn 76.1 51

Tennessee 81.1 64

LSU 68.7 55

Vanderbilt 78.9 55

Totals 77.0 58.8


“Mike Boynton pointed out to me yesterday that USC had never won at Ole Miss before. I told him this team had never lost there. That’s what I want my team to embrace.

“This game will come down to depth, conditioning, defensive transition, turnovers, steals, effort. IT will be another tough conference game. I have a lot of confidence in my team and I am sure he (UM’s Rod Barnes) has a lot of confidence in his team.

“Our deal is to go there and play well. We can’t be worried about Ole Miss and what they are trying to do. Where I wanna be involved in a positive standpoint in the last five or six games of the year is when people talk about the conference championship. I want to be in the hunt.

“Tomorrow’s game will matter about who plays the best tomorrow, not about how motivational tactics. It will be no place for the meek and the mild. It might not be a pretty basketball game but both teams need a win. It will bring out a great effort by both teams.”