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Feb. 1, 2005

South Carolina returns home to host the Arkansas Razorbacks on Wednes., Feb. 2. The 7:30 pm game will be shown on E-TV Sports Digital cable television — tape delayed (see release on page 2). Mike Morgan will make the call and Lane Odom will work as the color analyst. Morgan will be replaced in the radio booth by USC women’s basketball voice Andy Demetra with Casey Manning working as the radio’s color analyst.

South Carolina has three players averaging double figures: Carlos Powell (15.3 ppg), Tre’ Kelley (10.3 ppg) and Tarence Kinsey (10.1 ppg). Powell also leads the Gamecocks in rebounds with 6.5 rpg.

Dropping a 72-80 game at Florida on Saturday, the Gamecocks enter the UA game with an 11-7 record overall and a 3-4 mark in conference play. Home court advantage has helped out the Gamecocks as USC are 10-1 at the Colonial Center this season and 1-0 on a neutral court.

The Gamecocks are 3-0 at the Colonial Center this season in SEC games. Last year Carolina was 5-3 in SEC play at home with the three losses coming against No. 14 Florida, No. 6 Kentucky and No. 6 Mississippi State. The Gamecocks have won six in a row at home since their overtime loss to Clemson on Dec. 4th, 2004.

On the road, the Gamecocks have played teams close but have come up short each time as they are 0-6 on the road. Five of the six losses have been by eight points or less, while four of the six have been by four or less. Four of the six teams have been nationally ranked with the four being ranked in the Top 17.

Overall, SEC Rankings

USC is ranked No. 4 in the following categories on the SEC overall statistics list: scoring offense (63.2), field goal percentage (47.4%), 3 point field goal percentage defense (31.1%), offensive rebounds (12.1), steals (8.1 spg) and turnover margin (+2.2). In SEC rankings, USC is No. 2 in field goal percentage (50.1%) and three point field goal percentage (38.4%); and third in blocked shots (4.0 bpg).

Individually overall, Carlos Powell is No. 9 in scoring (15.3 ppg) and No. 8 in rebounding (6.5 rpg). Powell is ranked No. 2 in field goal % overall (57.2%) and No. 1 in the same category in SEC games (65.5%).

For all USC rankings, as a team and individually, see pages six and eight.

About Them and Playing Us

Arkansas entered the SEC season at 12-1 with only a loss to No. 1 Illinois, 60-72, blemishing their record in non-conference play. The `Backs come to USC with a 2-5 SEC record (14-6), including 2-2 at home and 0-3 on the road in the SEC.

In the two team’s last meeting USC beat Arkansas 91-81 on March 11, 2004 in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Mike Boynton, Jr. scored 32 points with five three’s. He also went 17-19 from the free throw line. Arkansas leads the overall series 10-5, but USC has won three of the last four in the series. Four of the last five games in the series have been decided by 10 or less while three of them have been decided by seven or fewer points. UA leads the series 4-2 in Columbia, but the last two have been close with Carolina taking a 72-65 win during the 2002-03 season and the Razorbacks edging Carolina 69-67 during the 2000-01 season.

UA is led by Ronnie Brewer, who is averaging 16.4 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Brewer averages 16.1 ppg in SEC play, good enough for No. 6 on the league leaders list in SEC play. Olu Famutimi is averaging 10.6 ppg and junior Eric Ferguson also averages double figures with 10.3 ppg.

On the SEC’s overall statistics list, Arkansas is No. 3 in scoring offense (76.9 ppg) and No. 2 on scoring defense (61.5 ppg). Also on the overall SEC list, they lead the league in three point field goal defense (29.2%), blocked shots (6.05 bpg) and steals (9.95 spg). The Razorbacks are No. 2 in three point field goal percentage (40.1%).

Will USC Smile?

USC is 6-0 this season following a loss. Four of the wins after the loss were decided by five points or less (East Carolina 57-53, South Florida 72-70, Tennessee 66-63 and Vanderbilt 68-63) 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.

Protecting your turf

Last season all six teams in the SEC East had a winning record on their home court while three of the six in the SEC West did it. The other three SEC West teams who failed to finish with a winning record finished their SEC home record at 4-4.

This season four teams in the SEC East and the SEC West have winning records after at least three home SEC games. Only one team in the conference is at .500, while the rest are below it. The four conference losses so far this season on the road for Carolina have come against No. 8 Kentucky, Florida, LSU and No. 17 Mississippi State. Those four teams are a combined 13-1 in home SEC games and 36-5 overall.

Some More

Tre’ Kelley is averaging almost double the minutes he did last year — with 31.5 mpg this year on the hardwood, compared to last year’s 16.1 mpg. He is also averaging double the points this year, averaging 10.3 ppg this year to last season’s 5.1 ppg.

Brandon Wallace is also averaging a significant amount of more minutes this year, playing 23.8 mpg this year compared to last season’s 13.4 mpg. Wallace leads the team with 28 blocks (he had 35 blocks in 34 games last year) and 16 dunks.

The Razorbacks Last Time Out

Arkansas’ Eric Ferguson’s three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining gave Arkansas a chance but his three at the buzzer was off the mark as No. 6 Kentucky escaped Bud Walton Arena with a 68-67 victory over Arkansas on Saturday. In a battle of the top two defenses in the SEC, Kentucky shot 56.5 percent against Arkansas (26-46) while the Razorbacks hit just 24-of-66 shots (.364). UA made up for that by making 16-of-21 free throws (.762) and out-rebounding UK 37-30. Arkansas had 21 offensive rebounds, seven by Ronnie Brewer and four by Charles Thomas.

Arkansas trailed by seven with three minutes and left and by five with just over a minute to play. Jonathon Modica converted a three-point play with 53 seconds left to get the Razorbacks within 66-64. UK’s Patrick Sparks, who was held to five points on two-of-eight shooting, hit the biggest shot of the game, a 17-footer, with 20 seconds to go to give the Wildcats a four-point lead.

Ferguson nailed a three from the left wing 10 seconds later and Arkansas fouled Chuck Hayes with 5.5 ticks to play. Hayes missed the front end of the one-and-one and Ferguson rushed the ball down the floor where his three-pointer from the top of the key hit off the back of the rim as the horn sounded.

The Coaches Speak

“It’s going to be a difficult game for us (on playing Arkansas), because they represent the things that make it hard for you to win,” said USC head coach Dave Odom on Monday’s SEC teleconference. “They have a cast of thousands. They have a veteran backcourt and are veteran on the perimeter. Their inside game is led by some outstanding freshmen. We’ve got to play with all out effort. We have to pick up or commitment and determination on the inside. Those areas the level of play must be raised. Arkansas is very much like Florida, they have talent at all five positions.”

“The teams share some similarities,” said UA Stan Heath. “They’ve had some tough games and played close games with Pittsburgh and Kansas. They have not lost a conference game at home and have lost just once at home all year. They are a team that has a lot of length and athleticism. They have a couple of energy guys that play with a lot of bounce in Carlos Powell and Renaldo Balkman. Balkman covers a lot of ground and makes a lot of plays. We have to take care of the ball. They show a lot of different defenses. It’s important for us to attack the press and be strong with the ball, and get good looks at the rim. In our last game, we took shots maybe a second quicker than we needed to.”