March 21, 2005
South Carolina, 16-13 and 7-9 in the SEC, will host UNLV in the second round of the NIT on Tuesday, March 22 at 9 pm. The game will be shown nationally on ESPN with Brad Nessler (play by play) and Steve Lavin (color analyst) making the call. USC is 1-0 on ESPN this season with a Feb. 15 win over No.3 Kentucky (73-61) and 13-21 overall.
Good seats for the game still remain. Tickets are $17 for the lower deck, $10 for the upper deck and $4 for USC students.
USC defeated Miami in the first round of the NIT (69-67) and UNLV defeated Arizona State (89-78) in its first round match-up. The winner of the USC/UNLV game will play the winner of the Cal-State Fullerton/Georgetown game (also being played on Tuesday).
South Carolina owns a 4-1 mark against the Rebels and are 3-0 against UNLV in Columbia. The Gamecocks took the last meeting against UNLV in Columbia by a score of 75-65 on March 19, 2002 in the second round of the NIT.
The Gamecocks have opened up the 2005 NIT with the same road it took during the 2002 NIT when they advanced to the championship game. Carolina opened up against an ACC opponent in 2002 on the road (Virginia) and this year opened up against an ACC opponent at home (Miami). The Gamecocks in 2002 played UNLV in the second round after the Rebels defeated Arizona State in 2002 as well.
This is the third postseason tournament for USC Head Coach Dave Odom in four years at USC. In 2002 he took the team to the NIT Finals where they lost 62-72 to Memphis after defeating Syracuse 66-59 in the semi-finals. In 2004, the Gamecocks made the NCAA Tournament, falling 43-59 to Memphis in the first round in Kansas City.
This is Carolina’s ninth trip to the NIT and its 17th time in a post-season tournament since 1969 (9 NIT, 8 NCAA). It is USC’s seventh appearance in post-season play since it joined the SEC in 1991-92.
USC last appeared in the NIT in the 2001-02 season when the Gamecocks finished as the runner-up to Memphis in the NIT Championship game. The Gamecocks are 12-8 overall in the NIT and have appeared in the following years: 1969, 1975, 1978, 1983, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2005.
The Gamecocks enter the UNLV game with a 16-13 record overall and finished SEC play with a 7-9 mark in conference play. USC defeated Miami in the first round of the NIT on March 15, 69-67 after losing a heartbreaker to Ole MIss (52-53) in the first round of the SEC Tournament March 10. Home court advantage had helped out the Gamecocks as they have collected a 14-3 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 have been by four or less. Five of the teams have been nationally ranked with the five being ranked in the Top 17.
USC has played two neutral site games this season and collected a 1-1 record.
UNLV enters the game with a 17-13 record overall and a 7-7 record in the Mountain West Conference. The Rebels have won 8 of their last 10 games. The Running Rebels are led by Odarty Blankson’s 17.7 ppg and Romel Beck’s 13.3 ppg. Blankson has a team-leading 8.1 rpg with Louis Amundson pulling down 7.6 rpg.
UNLV is coming off an 89-78 first round NIT win over Arizona State on March 17. UNLV shot 58.6% in the game with four Rebels collecting double figures (Morgan, 21; Blankson, 19; Umeh 11; and Blassingame, 11). The Rebels hit 11 three pointers, holding ASU to 4-24 from beyond the arch. This marks the Rebels’ fourth straight appearance in the NIT. UNLV is making its 23rd post season appearance overall (14 NCAA, 9 NIT). UNLV is 8-9 all-time in the NIT and 38-22 overall.
UNLV Head Coach Lon Kruger, who was the head coach at Florida from 1990-96, collected an 8-3 record vs. the Gamecocks during that span.
Odom’s Home Record
The Gamecocks are 51-16 at home under USC Head Coach Dave Odom. They are 34-2 on their home court under Coach Odom against non-conference opponents and has a better than .500 record against the SEC (18-14).
Stokes to ECU
Ricky Stokes has been named head basketball coach at East Carolina, director of athletics Terry Holland announced during a March 16th press conference at the Murphy Center. Stokes joins former USC assistant football coach Skip Holtz, now the Pirate head football coach.
Stokes, who has played an active role on coaching staffs which have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991, including two Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight showings, will officially end a two-year assistant coaching position on the South Carolina staff effective at the conclusion of the Gamecocks’ participation in the 2005 National Invitational Tournament (NIT)
Leading in PPG, RPG
SC is led by senior All-SEC forward Carlos Powell (2005 All-SEC Coaches Second Team, 2005 AP Third team and 2004 AP Third team). Powell is leading the team with 16.2 ppg and 6.4 rpg. The 16.2 average would be the most for a Gamecock player to average in a season since BJ McKie averaged 17.3 during the 1998-99 season. Powell is the only USC player in double figures this season. The last time USC had one player to average in double figures per game was also McKie in the 1998-99 season. The Gamecocks failed to have a player average 10 or more during the 1999-2000 campaign.
He also led the team in those same categories last year. The last player to lead in these two categories in consecutive years was Jimmy Foster when he led the team three years in a row 1981-82, 1982-83 and 1983-84. He is the only player to do it three consecutive years. Art Whisnant (1960-61 and 1961-62) and Joe Smith (1952-53 and 1953-54) are the only other players to accomplish that feat two straight years.
Powell has shot 50% or better in 21 of the 29 games this season and has led the team in scoring 19 times and rebounding 18 times. Powell had scored 10 or more points in 27 of 29 games this season (8 vs. Clemson, 9 vs. Vandy), 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 21 of 29 games this season – including a 13 rebound performance vs. Florida.
19 straight over, new one started
Prior to shooting 37.3% against Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Tournament, SC had shot 40% or better from the field in 19 straight games. The streak included seven straight with USC shooting better than 50% from the floor. But USC climbed back on the horse against Miami, shooting 47.3%.
With Alabama shooting the ball 50.9% from the floor, the Gamecocks allowed just four opponents this season to shoot better than 50% from the field. USC is 1-3 when allowing their opponents to hit more than half of their shots (USF, No. 17 Pittsburgh, LSU and No. 16 Alabama).
The Gamecocks committed only eight turnovers against the Crimson Tide, nine in the Ole Miss overtime win and seven against Miami in the first round NIT win. The seven marked the fifth time this season that USC had less than 10 turnovers in a game. Carolina is 3-2 in those fie games (Appalachian State, at LSU, at Alabama, Ole Miss and Miami).
Until the Miami game, where USC and Miami each turned the ball over just seven times, the last three Carolina wins had 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). The Gamecocks have forced 15+ turnovers in 14 games this season and are 10-4 in those games.
They shoot the 3
USC opponents have hit four or more three’s in 18 consecutive games. Opponents have hit that mark in 25 of 29 games this season and have hit 7 or more in 11 games this season.
The UNLV game will be Carlos Powell’s 129th game in garnet and black. He broke the career games played school record on March 3 (Mike Boynton, Jr., 125).
Powell needs two field goal attempts to move to No. 6 all-time.
Powell has 132 career steals, good enough for ninth on the all-time career steals list.
Powell is No. 8 on the career points scored list with 1,472 points. To move to No. 7 he needs 33 points (1505, Art Whisnant, 1959-62). BJ McKie holds the record for most points scored at 2,119.
Almost top 8 for Wallace
Brandon Wallace blocked four shots against the Hurricanes on March 15th to up his total on the season to 48. The 48 is the most for a Gamecock in a season since Ryan Stack totaled 55 in the 1997-98 season.
He has 83 career blocks (48 this year, 35 last year). With the four blocks vs. Miami, he jumped past No. 9 Nate Davis’ 81 blocked shots (1974-77). He needs three to tied No. 8 Jim Strickland (86, 1979-80) and four to tied Bud Johnson (87, 1996-99). The career leader might be a bit tougher. It’s 235 blocked shots by Danny Traylor (1971-73).
Wallace tied a career high with five blocks in the overtime win over Ole Miss on March 6. Twenty-two times this season he has blocked at least one shot in a game. Four times this year he has blocked at least four shots in a game (East Carolina, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Miami).