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Jan. 25, 2005

South Carolina returns home to host Vanderbilt on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 8 pm. South Carolina leads the series 19-15 against Vanderbilt and holds a 10-5 mark in Columbia. USC has won five in a row and 14 of the last 17 with Vanderbilt. The two games last season were decided by seven points or less while seven of the last 10 have been decided by 10 or less.

John Chappell’s New Best Friends

John Chappell is taking an equestrian class this semester and because he couldn’t go the barn on Wednesday, the barn is coming to him. The South Carolina Equestrian team will be at the Colonial Center Wednesday night cheering for the Gamecocks, but they will be busy prior to the game, promoting their upcoming match against Georgia on Saturday, February 5th at One Wood Farm in Blythewood, SC.

The Gamecocks, as well as some of their horses will be at the Colonial Center two hours prior to the men’s basketball game against Vanderbilt (6-8 pm). They will be taking free pictures with fans, handing out flyers and educating the public on the sport of equestrian.

Fighting to stay at .500

The Gamecocks opened up their 2005 SEC schedule against the Wildcats in Kentucky and dropped the game to the nation’s No. 8 team by four (75-79). Since then USC has won every other game, battling to stay at .500 in the conference. (Wins: vs. Georgia, vs. Tennessee; Losses: at No. 8 Kentucky, at LSU and at No. 17 Miss, State)

Home Court Advantage

Heading into the Vanderbilt game the Gamecocks are sporting a 10-6 record overall and a 2-3 mark in conference play. Home court advantage has helped out the Gamecocks as USC is 9-1 at the Colonial Center this season and is 1-0 on a neutral court.

On the road, USC has played teams close but has came up short as the Gamecocks are 0-5 on the road. Four of the five losses have been by eight points or less, while three of the five have been by four or less. Four of the five teams have been nationally ranked with four of them being ranked in the Top 17.

The Decision Half

The Gamecocks have been outscored in the second half this season seven times. In those seven games, USC is 1-6 with the only win coming against USF (the 7: Clemson, USF, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State) USC has taken the lead into halftime or has been tied in 13 games this season. (no lead LSU, Clemson, and SC State) Two of the three games that Carolina at halftime trailed went into overtime.

A Frown Followed by a Smile

USC this season is 5-0 following a loss. Three of the victories after the loss were decided by four points or less (East Carolina 57-53, South Florida 72-70 and Tennessee 66-63) while two others were decided by 20 or more (App. State 91-57, Georgia 74-54). USC was 6-4 last season following a loss.

The Coach Speaks

“Vanderbilt is one of those teams in the league that returns the bulk of their lineup from a year ago,” said Coach Odom on Monday’s SEC teleconference. “They have a good blend of young players along with that. I think they play faster than they have in years. They are a very difficult team to defend because they shoot the ball well from every position.”

“We’ve got to have all of our defenses ready, there is no doubt about that,” continued Odom. “You can’t go into a Vanderbilt game and not allow for the possibility that they are going to shoot very well. We know they are capable and we have to push out there on the ball. It’s a real big job for us, and they play extremely hard.”

“We are coming off a disappointing week and a disappointing stretch,” said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. “We are fighting to keep our heads above water, and can only concern ourselves with what we do. Hopefully we can make some progress and get our team ready to play better when we get to Columbia on Wednesday.”

Post-game Mississippi State

The following are notes/quotes following the MSU game:

* USC used the Powell, Kinsey, Wallace (forwards), Kelley and Gonner (guards) line-up for the ninth time this season, but for the first time since the 57-53 win over East Carolina.

* USC is now 5-10 against Mississippi State, including 1-6 in Starkville.

* USC and Mississippi State went into the lockerroom tied at 31 each at halftime. It’s the first time USC has gone to the lockerroom tied since 2/7/04 at No. 6 Kentucky (UK won 65-64).

* Tre’ Kelley tied a career high with 22 points.

(Odom on turnovers against Mississippi State) “It’s one of those things, be careful what you ask for you might get it. When Lawrence Roberts got his fourth foul, I thought it would give us an advantage. Maybe we got careless; there were four turnovers in the next five minutes. The turnovers did us in with Roberts out of the game, which was disappointing. That was our undoing with him out of the game”

Their Last Time Out

Starting in place of injured Levi Stukes, Georgia’s leading scorer, walk-on freshman Kevin Brophy scored a career-high 19 points to lead Georgia to its first SEC victory Saturday, 68-59 over Vanderbilt.

Stukes, averaging 16.3 points a game, watched from the bench in a suit, sidelined with a sprained ankle, a practice injury. Brophy hit four 3-pointers in the game and three free throws in the last 25 seconds to ice the game for Georgia (7-8, 1-4 SEC).

Corey Smith led Vanderbilt (11-6, 2-3), which hit only two of 15 3-point attempts. The Commodores came into the game leading the SEC with 10.6 3-pointers per game at a 42.3 percent success rate, the same as Georgia’s overall field-goal percentage.

A first in forever

Shooting 50.0% at Mississippi, USC has shot 51.1% in its last seven games – including 50.0% or better in each of the last seven. The streak continues on as a first since 45-sec. shot clock was introduced in 1985-86 (35-sec. shot clock was adopted in 1993-94) and 3-point line was introduced in 1986-87.

Four of the games were played on the road, with three against top 20 teams (at No. 10 Pitt, at No. 8 Kentucky and No. 17 Mississippi State). During the stretch USC hit 50% against Pitt, 50% against Wofford, 53.6% at Kentucky, 51.8% vs. Georgia, 50.0% at LSU, 52.4% vs. Tennessee and 50.0% at No. 17 Mississippi State. USC was the first team in two years to shoot better than 50% against the Wildcats.

During the seven game span, USC is 192 of 376 (51.1%) from the floor and averaging 69.7 ppg. On the other hand, during the seven game stretch the opponent has shot 168 of 386 (43.5%) and are averaging 66.3 ppg.

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).

Last season, USC shot 50% or better only six times.

Good Shooting, Rebounding

Carlos Powell brings a 59.4% field goal percentage into the MSU game, including a 65.6% clip against SEC opponents. Powell is making the smart shots, as he is just 4-16 (25%) from beyond the arc overall and 3-7 (42.9%) in SEC games.

Powell has shot 50% or better in 13 of the 16 games this season, including a dandy 77.8% in the last seven games (49 of 63). USC has also shot over 50% (51.3%) during the seven-game stretch.

Powell has scored 10 or more points in 15 of 16 games this season but he has also been doing a good job of cleaning the boards for USC. The senior forward has totaled five or more rebounds in 11 of 16 games this season.