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March 8, 2005

South Carolina, 15-12 and 7-9 in the SEC, finished fourth in the SEC Eastern Division. As the No. 4 seed from the Eastern Division, USC will face the No. 5 seed from the Western Division, Ole Miss, in the First Round of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta, Ga., on Thursday, March 10 at 1:00 pm. The game will be televised on JP and the broadcast will feature Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Larry Conley (color). Dave Neal will be the host of JP’s SEC Tournament coverage. Dave Baker will serve as the roving reporter. Barry Booker will join Dave Neal at the host position for halftime and between game commentary on select telecasts.

The winner will play the No. 1 seed from the Western Division, Alabama, on Friday, March 11 at 1 pm. That game will also be shown on JP.

This is the third time as a head coach Dave Odom has played a team to finish the regular season and then to began the conference tournament. The first time was in 1997: Wake Forest lost to Florida State (55-59) and then opened the ACC Tourney with a 66-65 win; and the second time was in 1999 when Wake beat NC State (74-45) to end the regular season and then dropped a 52-66 game in the first round of the ACC Tourney.

We’ve seen you here before

USC and UM are quite familiar with each other, having played each other this past Sunday in Columbia. Led by Carlos Powell’s 30 points, USC got the best of the Rebels, coming away with a 76-70 overtime win. USC is 6-8 in regular season finales since joining the SEC.

The overall series record is knotted at 10 each. Four of the last five meetings between the two teams have been decided by six points or less. On a neutral court, USC leads 4-2.

This will be the third time the two teams have faced each other in the SEC Tourney during Dave Odom’s four-year tenure at USC. USC dropped a 56-62 game in New Orleans in 2003, but won a 69-67 match-up in Atlanta in 2002.

Overall, the Gamecocks and the Rebels will be playing each other for the sixth time at the SEC Tournament since USC joined the league in 1992. In the first five meetings, the team who won the regular season meeting lost the tournament game.

Year Regular Season (Location) Tournament

2005 USC 76-70 (Columbia) First Round, Thursday (Atlanta)

2003 USC 55-49 (Columbia) Ole Miss 62-56 (New Orleans)

2002 Ole Miss 71-53 (Oxford) USC 69-67 (Atlanta)

1999 USC 67-66 (Columbia) Ole Miss 64-60 (Atlanta)

1998 Ole Miss 73-54 (Oxford) USC 87-77 (Atlanta)

1994 Ole Miss 68-62 (Oxford) USC 80-57 (Memphis)

Women too

Oddly enough the USC women closed out the regular season with Mississippi (UM won 57-51 in Columbia) and also opened the SEC Tournament with the Rebels (UM won 53-50).

SEC Openers, Career Records

The Gamecocks are 8-5 in the opening game of the SEC Tournament. Listed below are Carolina’s record against teams in the tournament. The Gamecocks have played every team in the conference in the tournament except for Vanderbilt.

SEC West SEC East

Arkansas 1-1 Georgia 0-1

Alabama 2-2 Florida 1-1

Mississippi 3-2 Kentucky 1-3

Mississippi St. 1-0 Vanderbilt N/A

Auburn 0-2 Tennessee 1-1

LSU 2-0 Total 3-6

Total 9-7

Gamecocks in conference tournaments

South Carolina is 12-13 all-time in the SEC Tournament, with five semifinal and one finals appearance in 13 seasons (complete details to the left). All-time, South Carolina is 37-55 in conference championship tournaments, going 10-18 in the Southern Conference classic (1922-52), 13-17 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament (1953-71), and 3-8 in the Metro Conference Tournament (1983-91). Carolina captured the 1933 SoCon and 1971 ACC tourney titles.

Odom in conference tournaments

Gamecock fourth-year head coach Dave Odom is 13-14 in his career in conference championship tournaments. He was 0-1 while at East Carolina, losing in the 1982 ECAC-South Tournament. He went 9-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, with Wake Forest winning the 1995 and 1996 titles and his Demon Deacon teams advancing to at least the semifinals five times.

He has a 4-3 record in the SEC Tournament. His first season he saw the Gamecocks make the semi-finals of his first SEC Tournament, posting a 2-1 record. In 2003, USC fell in the first round to Ole Miss. In 2004, USC defeated Arkansas (91-81) and LSU (85-64) before falling to the eventual winner, Kentucky, in the semi-finals (63-78).

Gamecocks Presently

The Gamecocks enter the Ole Miss game with a 15-12 record overall and finished SEC play with a 7-9 mark in conference play. Home court advantage had helped out the Gamecocks as they have collected a 13-3 record at the Colonial Center this season, with losses only to Clemson, Auburn and Florida.

The Gamecocks were 6-2 at the Colonial Center this season in SEC games, including its 73-61 win over No. 3 Kentucky. 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. On the road, the Gamecocks have one road win to nine losses. Six of the nine losses have been by 8 points or less, while four of the six have been by four or less. Five of the nine teams have been nationally ranked with the five being ranked in the Top 17.

USC has only played one neutral site game this season, a 57-53 win over East Carolina in Mobile, Ala. on Dec. 20, 2004.

About Them

Ole Miss enters the game with a 13-16 record overall and a 4-12 record in the SEC. Their SEC wins came against Georgia, Auburn (twice) and Tennessee. They are led by Tommie Eddie’s 10.9 ppg. Londrick Nolen is also averaging in double figures at 10.6 ppg and a team-leading 4.6 rpg.

We like Turnovers

The last three Carolina wins have seen the Gamecock opponents turning the ball over a lot. USC has forced 57 turnovers in their last three wins. (18 vs. Mississippi, 21 vs. Kentucky and 18 vs. Georgia) They have forced 15+ turnovers in 14 games this season and are 10-4 in those games.

He Said, Then He Said

“We’re excited about the SEC Tournament,” said USC Head Coach Dave Odom on the SEC teleconference on Monday. “That’s the thing that sets basketball aside from other sports, tournament play. We’re coming off a game against Ole Miss in that we played well in the second half, breaking a four-game skid. I tried to impress upon our team that playing a team like this back-to-back, to have confidence, but that does not assure you of playing well in the tournament. I don’t think Ole Miss losing to us Sunday should make them any less confident. The point is the two games should be entirely separate and the game will be decided on how the teams play that day.

“I don’t think our defense was close to the defense we should play to get out of one round (of the SEC Tournament),” continued Odom. “We did make some changes at halftime that I thought really helped us. We have to play with more excitement, more intensity and attack more offensively. We did not rebound the ball. We have to get more people into the game than Carlos Powell.

“It’s tough playing someone like Ole Miss,” said Odom. “They play so many players. In one way it’s easy to prepare for them because we just played them and it’s also tough to prepare for them because you don’t know what lineup they’ll go with.”

“The tournaments – one and done element to the tournament makes it exciting,” said Odom. “Tournaments, though they are very exciting and offer renewed opportunity – it’s a chance to redeem ourselves and make post-season play. The tournament basketball is not quite what it was, because back in the old days, the only way to qualify for post-season play, NCAA wise, was to win your conference tournament. That’s when conference tournaments were at their peak. They are still exciting because there are more, better teams.”

“”We had a great game with South Carolina Sunday,” said UM Head Coach Rod Barnes on the SEC teleconference on Monday. “We’re one of the teams in the league that have to win the tournament. We have played a lot of players lately and have played well. We’re excited coming into the tournament.

“We’ve got to do a better job against the Gamecocks,” said Barnes. “We’ve got to find a better way to guard Carlos Powell. He had a great game. We’ll have to do a better job with him. We went away from our motion offense and went to some set plays that really helped us. We were concerned going into the game with rebounding, but our kids did a good job with that. We just need wins now.

“This is a team that has really been able to bounce back well after tough losses,” stated Barnes. “If we give a little bit better effort and play a little bit better defense, we have a chance to beat them. Starting with the South Carolina game, for the first 38 minutes, we played as well as they did. We’ll go in to the tournament, pushing those things.”

Quickly Moving Up

The Ole Miss game will be Carlos Powell’s 127th game in garnet and black. He broke the career games played school record on Sunday (Mike Boynton, Jr., 125).

Powell has 130 career steals, good enough for ninth on the all-time career steals list.

Powell is No. 11 on the career points scored list with 1,433 points. To move to No. 10 he needs 1,439 points (Jo Jo English). BJ McKie holds the record for most points scored at 2,119.

Against Ole Miss on Sunday, he scored 30 points – the first he has hit 30 in his career. It was his ninth time over 20 in his four-year career. Against UT on Jan. 15, he scored at least 20 points (20) for the eighth time in his career/ He had the sixth double-double of his career when he collected 13 points and 10 rebounds at No. 2 Kansas, the seventh vs. SCSU two games later when he collected 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Bulldogs and then his eighth career double-double vs. Auburn. Finally, he added his ninth double-double against Florida when he scored 17 points with 13 rebounds. The 13 rebounds were the most for Powell in an SEC game during his career.

Powell also has his eye on a number of USC top 10 career lists. They include:

Stat Record Place CP Now (Place)

Games Played 126, Powell 1 126 (1)

Points Scored 1439, English 10 1433 (11th)

Rebounds 669, Wallace 10 604 (out of top 10)

Steals 136, English 8 (next) 130 (9th)

Minutes Played 3362, Foster 10 (next) 3,301 (11th)

Field Goals Made 595, Slaughter 7 (next) 562 (8)

Field Goals Att. 1213, Davis 7 (next) 1178 (8)

Top 10 for Wallace

Brandon Wallace tied a career high with five blocks in the overtime win over Ole Miss on Sunday. Twenty times this season he has blocked at least one shot in a game. He has 77 career blocks (42 this year, 35 last year). With the five blocks, he jumped past No. 10 Jimmy Graziano on the career blocked shots list (76, 1977-80). Next up on the list: Nate Davis’ 81 blocked shots (1974-77). The career leader might be a bit tougher. It’s 235 blocked shots by Danny Traylor (1971-73).

He had four blocks against Arkansas; it was the second time this season he has had 4 blocks in a game (East Carolina, 12-20-04).

Make it 19 straight

USC has shot 40% or better from the field in 19 straight games which include seven straight for USC shooting better than 50% from the floor.

What a different a Free Throw MAKES

USC hit 12 of 19 free throws vs. Ole Miss – including Carlos Powell’s 8-11 form the charity stripe.

But, Carolina has made only 33 free throws in its last five games, while their opponents have hit 73. The Gamecocks have only attempted 65 in those four games to their opponents 100 which means USC has hit less than 51% of its free throws to their opponents 73%.