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Jan. 10, 2005

Playing its first of two Tiger teams from the SEC Western Division, USC heads to LSU on Wednesday, Jan. 12 for an 8 pm (EST) contest . LSU took the last meeting in Baton Rouge but USC holds a 3-2 mark on the Tigers home court.

USC is led by senior Carlos Powell who is leading the team in ppg (14.9) and rpg (6.5).

The Gamecocks won both of the meetings last season against LSU. Carolina took a 61-55 win in Columbia and then a 85-64 victory in Atlanta at the 2004 SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks have won four of the last five and own an 11-6 record in the series. LSU, Vanderbilt and Georgia are the only three SEC schools that USC owns the series record against.

LSU enters the game 6-5 after dropping a 58-73 game in its first SEC game on Saturday at No. 18 Alabama.

LSU is led by eighth-year head coach John Brady. The Tigers have 10 letterwinners and four starters returning from a team that was 18-11 overall last season, including an 8-8 campaign in the SEC (2nd West). They are led by sophomore Brandon Bass, who is averaging 16.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg.

Odom on LSU

“Facing LSU in Baton Rouge is always a difficult challenge for any team, but especially for us,” said USC Head Coach Dave Odom. “They are the type of team that has given us problems this year. They are big inside, and their size is overwhelming. We had problems with Kansas and Kentucky’s post men, and their guys fall into that category with Brandon Bass and Glen Davis. This is a different challenge, and we will have to see how it goes.” better.

“I don’t know if there are a lot of teams that play more than eight players,” said Odom of LSU. “Sometimes it is an advantage to have eight guys, and you can form a real tight knit group of players who know their roles and what to expect. I don’t think it is that big of a disadvantage.”

Their Last Time Out

Alabama’s Kennedy Winston scored 21 points and No. 19 Alabama held LSU without a point for nearly 9 minutes in the second half of a 73-58 victory on Jan. 8. The Crimson Tide turned a one-point game into an easy win with a 17-0 run and handed the Tigers (6-5, 0-1) their fourth loss in five games.

Winston fueled the run with eight points and a couple of big defensive plays, getting 15 points after halftime to reach 1,000 points for his career.

The Tigers managed little offense inside before halftime and didn’t produce much outside in the second half. Glen Davis had 13 points and seven rebounds to lead LSU, while Darrel Mitchell and Antonio Hudson had 11 apiece. Hudson left with an apparent leg injury midway through the second half.

LSU’s leading scorer Brandon Bass finished with just 10 points, seven below his average.

Out Quick

Carolina has taken the lead into halftime in all but two games this season. In the last two games, USC has scored a combined 85 points in the first half on 34-59 shooting and 10-21 from beyond the arch. In the second half of those two games, Carolina is 25-53 from the field but only 3-15 from three point range.

A first

The Gamecocks have hit 50% or better from the field in four consecutive games — a first since they joined the SEC in 1992-93. The following are the only two times USC has shot 50.0% or better three games straight since joining the SEC: 1997-98 season (.500 vs. Alabama 2/11/98, .522 vs. Mississippi State 2/14/98 and .533 vs. Arkansas 2/18/98); and the 1992-93 season (.500 vs. Georgia Southern, .526 vs. Oklahoma and .533 vs. UNC-Asheville).

This season USC hit 50% against Pitt, 50% against Wofford, 53.6% at Kentucky and 51.8% vs. Georgia. USC was the first team in two years to shoot better than 50% against the Wildcats. During the four game span, USC is 116 of 226 (51.3%) from the floor and averaging 73 points a game.

A Frown Followed by a Smile

Carolina this season is 4-0 following a loss. USC has bounced back from losses to come back and win their next game. Two of the victories after the loss were decided by four points or less (ECU 57-53 and USF 72-70) while the other two were decided by 20 or more. (App. State 91-57 and UGA 74-54). The Gamecocks were 6-4 last season following a loss.

Two Halves

USC has led at halftime in every game this season except for two (Clemson, SC State). Both of those games USC went into overtime but the Gamecocks only came up with a win against SC State while Clemson hit a last second shot to win the rivalry game.

USC has led the remainder of its games at half including games at Pitt, at Kansas and at Kentucky. The Gamecocks led Pitt 28-25, Kansas 33-25, and Kentucky 41-25 at the break but dropped all three games to the top 10 teams.

What others think

In the latest RPI rankings (Jan. 10), USC is ranked No. 62 – sixth best in the SEC. Its strength of schedule on ranks as the 67th best in the country. In the Jan. 10 Sagarin rankings, USC is ranked No. 51 and its strength of schedule (SOS) is ranked No. 106. On the CBS CollegeSportsline poll (Jan. 10) USC is ranked 47th with an SOS of 75.

Don’t do it

Brandon Wallace has been a blocking machine as of late as he has blocked 17 shots in his last six games. Wallace had four blocks against East Carolina, three against SC State, added three blocks at No. 10 Pittsburgh and two vs. Wofford and No. 8 Kentucky and then three against Georgia.

Wallace also grabbed 10 boards in the win over SC State. The 10 rebounds are one shy of his career high that came against the Citadel on December 3, 2003 when he collected 11 boards in his first career start. He added nine against Wofford.