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March 30, 2005

USC will play St. Joseph’s in the NIT Championship at 7 pm on ESPN2 on Thursday, March 31. It will be the second time in four years the Gamecocks have played for the NIT title, falling in 2002 to Memphis in the title game.

Odom, Martelli to ring the bell at the NY Stock Exhange on Thursday
South Carolina head coach Dave Odom and SJU Head Coach Phil Martelli will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, March 31. The opening bell is at 9:30 am. Odom rang the bell in 1999 when his Wake Forest team won the NIT title as well.

USC Head Coach Dave Odom and SJU Head Coach Phil Martelli ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange

We want 20
The game against St. Joe’s will be Carolina’s 33rd of the season. That marks the 3rd most in school history. Carolina played 37 in 2002, 34 in 2004, and 33 in 1991 and 2005. Three of those four years have come under Head Coach Dave Odom.

The Gamecocks are looking for victory #20 on the season. If the Gamecocks defeat St. Joe’s on Thursday, the Gamecocks will have their third 20+ win season under Head Coach Dave Odom. The 20 wins would give the SEC seven teams with 20+ victories. The Gamecocks posted 23 wins in the 2003-04 season and 22 in the 2001-02 campaign. The 2001-02 campaign was USC’s last appearance before this season in the NIT.

Gamecocks Presently + Home Court
The Gamecocks enter the St. Joseph’s game with a 19-13 record overall and finished SEC play with a 7-9 mark. Home court advantage helped out the Gamecocks as they collected a 16-3 record at the Colonial Center this season, with losses only to Clemson, Auburn and Florida — all by a total of five points (CU, UF: 1, AU: 3). The Gamecocks are 63-22 at home since 2001. The 16 wins at home are a Colonial Center record. The 16 are tied for second most at home in a single season. The record is 17 by the 1982-83 squad who went 17-3 at home (22-9 OA) and second is 16-2 by the 1995-96 squad (19-12 OA). Since the opening of the Colonial Center, the Gamecocks are 41-10 at their new home and are 26-1 against non-conference opponents and have a 15-9 mark against SEC foes (including 6-2 this season).

Out of Columbia hasn’t always been so good this year. 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 were nationally ranked with the five being ranked in the Top 17.

USC has played three neutral site games this season and collected a 2-1 record (defeated East Carolina and Maryland; lost to Ole Miss at the SEC Tourney)

This is the third postseason tournament for USC Head Coach Dave Odom in four years at USC (also his third year with a winning record at USC). The Gamecocks are 15-8 all-time in the NIT. 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.

USC is 8-1 in its last nine NIT games.

This is Carolina’s ninth trip to the NIT (see compete results below) 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 where the Gamecocks finished as the runner-up to Memphis in the NIT Championship game. The Gamecocks are 13-8 overall in the NIT and have appeared in the following years: 1969, 1975, 1978, 1983, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2005.

Not our first trip to Madison Square Garden
The Gamecocks have played at Madison Square Garden in the NIT in 1969, 1975, 2002 and now 2005. The Gamecocks are 4-3 and each time won their first game there.

First Half Explosion
The 41 Points in the first half vs. Maryland marked the fourth time this season that the Gamecocks scored 40 or more points in the first half this season. The last time USC scored 40 or more at the break was when Carolina scored 44 against Georgia on 1-8-05. The other two times it happened were against USF (40), and Kentucky (41). Carolina led at the half in all four games and are 3-1 when scoring 40 or more before halftime. Carolina has scored 40+ points in 13 halves this season and have scored 50+ in a half twice this season.

The Gamecocks have forced 50 turnovers in their last three games. UNLV turned it over 18 times, while Georgetown committed 11 and Maryland turned it over 21 times. During these three games, USC has turned it only 34 times. The Gamecocks have turned those 50 turnovers into 42 points while opponents have scored 23 points on 34 Carolina miscues. This season the Gamecocks have turned the ball over 409 times for an average of 12.78 a game. The lowest turnover average for the Gamecocks in a season was 13.2 in 2004 in 34 games. The next two lowest totals are 13.3 in 1979 (27 games) and 13.4 in 1980 (27 games).

Powell Scores
Carlos Powell recorded his 10th career double-double while it was his sixth of this season. His last double-double came against Florida on 2-27-05. Powell has led the Gamecocks in points scored in 22 games this season. USC is 5-6 when someone on the team has the same total or has more than Powell in points scored. There have been 10 times this season where he has led the team in a game in both points scored and rebounds. The game against St. Joe’s will be his final in a Carolina jersey. He has scored in 101 straight games and has played in a school record 131 games prior to playing the Hawks.

66, 67
The Gamecocks held Maryland to 67 points on Tuesday night. 66 and 67 should ring a bell. Carolina has held its four NIT opponent to either 66 or 67 points scored in a game. The two ACC schools posted 67 against the Gamecocks while UNLV and Georgetown both scored 66. Carolina has held 21 opponents this season to 69 and fewer points. USC is 18-3 when they allow their opponents to score fewer than 69.

Mr. Tisby on the Boards
Antoine Tisby recorded nine rebounds against the Terps. It marked the 14th game this season where he grabbed five or more boards in a game. He has totaled seven or more rebounds in six of the last 10 games.

19 straight over; NIT Shooting
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.

USC had gotten it right in the NIT – shooting almost 51 % in its first three games. USC shot 47.3% against Miami, then shot 45.9% in the win over UNLV and a sparkling 59.5 % in the win over Georgetown – its best shooting performance of the year. In the Maryland game, USC shot just 37.5% to Maryland’s 41.5 %. Carolina shooting 37.5% was the third lowest percentage for the Gamecocks this season. USC shot 36% against East Carolina and 37% against Mississippi at the SEC Tournament. All three of those games were played on a neutral court. Carolina played ECU in Mobile, Ala at the GMAC Bowl Classic. The other two times Carolina shot under 40% was against Kansas (38.9%) and Clemson (39%) The Gamecocks are 2-3 when shooting under 40% from the field.

Most Since
Going into the NIT final, Carlos Powell is averaging 16.4 points a game. The 16.4 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.

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 16.4 ppg and 6.5 rpg. 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 22 of the 32 games this season and has led the team in scoring 22 times and rebounding 19 times. Powell had scored 10 or more points in 30 of 32 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 24 of 32 games this season – including a 13 rebound performance vs. Florida and a 12 rebound performance vs. Maryland on Tuesday.

Better Shooting, More Turnovers
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. USC followed up the seven TO with just nine against Georgetown. The nine marked the sixth time this season that USC had less than 10 turnovers in a game. Carolina is 4-2 in those games (Appalachian State, at LSU, at Alabama, Ole Miss, Miami and Georgetown).

They shoot the 3
USC opponents have hit four or more three’s in 20 consecutive games. Opponents have hit that mark in 28 of 32 games this season and have hit 7 or more in 13 games this season.

Putting some space between’em
The St. Joe’s game will be Carlos Powell’s 132nd game in garnet and black. He broke the career games played school record on March 3 (Mike Boynton, Jr., 125). Powell is No. 6 in career field goal attempts with 1,239. Powell has 138 career steals and is No. 7 on the career list. Powell is No. 6 on the career points scored list with 1,525 points. BJ McKie holds the record for most points scored at 2,119.

Against Ole Miss on March 6, he scored 30 points – the first he has hit 30 in his career. He followed that up with 21 points against Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Tournament and then 21 against Georgetown. It was his 11th time over 20 in his four-year 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. His 10th double-double came on Tuesday against Maryland when he scored 17 points and added 12 rebounds. Powell also has his eye on a number of USC top 10 career lists.

5 was good for Wallace
Brandon Wallace blocked five shots against Maryalnd to up his total on the season to 54. The 54 is the most for a Gamecock in a season since Ryan Stack totaled 55 in the 1997-98 season. He has 89 career blocks (54 this year, 35 last year). He is now No. 7 on the career shots blocked list, needing 34 blocks to hit No. 6 Tony Kitchings (123, 1999-2003). The career leader might be a bit tougher. It’s 235 blocked shots by Danny Traylor (1971-73).

Twenty-four times this season he has blocked at least one shot in a game.

Wallace recorded five blocks against Maryland on Tuesday. The five blocks tied his career high that he posted against Appalachian State on 1-2-04, and Ole Miss on 3-6-05. The Gamecocks as a team have 19 blocks in the four NIT games and Wallace has 10 of them. Wallace is now tied for 10th place in blocks in a season with Alex English who recorded 54 blocks in 1973. He is one block away from 9th place tying Ryan Stack with 55, and five away from Jeff Roulston who has 59. Mike Britain (1984) and Alex English (1975) registered 61 for sixth place.