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Nov. 17, 2005

South Carolina opens 2005-06 campaign on the road

South Carolina opens the 2005-06 season on the road at Western Carolina in a 6 pm showdown on Friday, Nov. 18. The game will be played at the Ramsey Activity Center and will not be televised. The game will be a carried on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color analyst) making the call.

Carolina owns a 5-0 mark against Western Carolina and will play in Cullowhee for the first time. In their last meeting USC won 87-61 in Columbia, S.C. on Nov. 21, 2004, collecting a season-high 19 steals. This will mark the second consecutive season that Carolina opens up the season against the Catamounts.

Who’s got next?

After the ride up to Western Carolina, South Carolina will return to the Colonial Center to host University of Toledo at 1:30 pm. on Sunday, Nov. 20. The game, part of a double-header with USC’s women (the women will play Winthrop at 3:30 pm), will be shown on Fox Sports South with Dave Neal (play by play) and former Auburn and Clemson coach Cliff Ellis (analyst) making the call. It is the first of at least 19 games USC will play on television during the regular season this year (see note on page six).

It is the Rockets season opener, after they defeated Wayne State in 85-65 in exhibition play earlier this month. UT returns seven of its top eight scorers from a team that was 16-13 in 2004-05, finishing tied for first in the MAC West Division. The Rockets were 11-7 in league play. Toledo is the pre-season favorite to win the Mid-American Conference’s West Division for the second straight year. Their last visit, Dec. 3, 1975, resulted in a 84-64 win by the Gamecocks.

“South Carolina is a big, long athletic tam with a very good coach in Dave Odom,” said UT’s head coach Stan Joplin. “It’s an opportunity for us to get a gauge on where we’re at, but we’re also going down there with the idea that we’re going to win and to do everything possible to accomplish that.”

Starting on the road

The last time Carolina opened up on the road it was against Chaminade in the Maui Invitational during the 2001-02 season. The Gamecocks defeated Chaminade 74-61 to advance to the next round to face top-ranked Duke, dropping an 81-56 decision.

About Them, Last Time They

Western Carolina enters the game with a 1-2 record overall this season. On Nov. 10 they defeated Bowling Green 56-50 as part of the NABC Classic in Blacksburg, Va. They then dropped two straight games, a 69-56 game to Radford on Nov. 12, and then Virginia Tech had to mount a comeback to defeat WCU 54-40 on Nov. 13.

They are led by first- year head coach Larry Hunter. Hunter is 510-226 and in his 26th year as a head coach. They are led by Antonio Russell who is averaging 12.7 ppg this season. The Catamounts were 8-22 in 2004-05, including a 3-13 record in the SC.

This will mark just the sixth time Western has welcomed a school from one of the “power” basketball conferences. The first year the Ramsey Center opened, N.C. State came to Cullowhee on Dec. 6, 1986 for the men’s first home game, a game the Wolfpack won 96-75. That same year Florida State defeated WCU 101-76 in Cullowhee. The following year, Kansas, who went on to win the NCAA title that same season, brought All-American Danny Manning to the Ramsey Center and edged Western, 68-63. Clemson handed Western an 81-71 setback on Jan. 29, 1992. Last season, C-USA member East Carolina, who had played in Cullowhee on 17 previous occasions, made its first trip to the Ramsey Center and WCU prevailed 77-72 in overtime. It was the Cats’ first victory over a C-USA team and just the ninth win by a SoCon team in 50 chances over a C-USA team since 1996-97.

But that was last year

South Carolina is coming off a 20-13 campaign last season. USC was 7-9 in the SEC, finishing in fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division.

USC won the 2005 NIT in Madison Square Garden with a 60-57 victory over St. Joe’s. To get to the championship game, USC defeated Miami (ACC) 77-67 in the first round, UNLV (Mountain West) 77-66 in the second round, Georgetown (Big East) 69-66 and Maryland (ACC) 74-67 in the semi-finals.

Carlos Powell was named the NIT MVP and Brandon Wallace was named to the All-Tournament team.

Exhibition Opener

USC tipped off the season on Nov. 10 in an 95-63 exhibition win against USC Aiken. The win improved USC to 35-6 overall in exhibition games as USC?has won 14 consecutive exhibition games.

The Gamecocks are 20-1 in their last 21 exhibition contests and have not lost since a Nov. 6, 1997 game to Marathon Oil under then-coach Eddie Fogler. USC then went 23-8 overall and 11-5 in SEC play with a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

USC had three players in double figures: Brandon Wallace (11), Bryce Sheldon (13) and the game’s leading scorer Rocky Trice (15). Antoine Tisby led the team with three blocks, Renaldo Balkman scoured the boards to collect seven rebounds and Stephen McDowell played 24 minutes, tallying the most for any Gamecock. McDowell started in place of Tre’ Kelley as a reward for his hard work and dedication. It was his first start in the garnet and black. Every Gamecock on the roster played and scored at least four points each.

20 x 3?

The Gamecocks are coming off of consecutive seasons where they have recorded 20 or more wins. The last time USC recorded three straight 20 wins seasons was during the Frank McGuire era when he led USC to six straight 20-win seasons. (1968-69 to 1973-74) In three of four seasons at USC, Odom has led USC to 20 or more victories.

Coach 20 win seasons Total Seasons at Carolina

Frank McGuire 6 16

Dave Odom 3 4

Eddie Fogler 2 8

George Felton 1 5

Bill Foster 1 6

All across the stage

USC saw all four seniors graduate last year: John Chappell, Josh Gonner, Jon Land and Carlos Powell. Powell was the Gamecocks’ leading scorer and rebounder the last two seasons, scoring 16.4 ppg and collecting 6.5 rpg last season. Powell finished his career No. 1 in career games played at 32 and finished No. 6 on the career points list with 1541 points.

Chappell (Macedonia), Gonner (England) and Powell (Portugal) are all playing basketball overseas.

Kerbrell Brown, who finished his career in 2004 and played a year of professional basketball in Iceland, is back at Carolina this fall to complete his degree. He works with the Gamecock basketball team as a student coach.

Last 3, First 3 The NIT hero, Tarence Kinsey, closed out USC’s scoring last season, hitting a three-pointer with less than two seconds to clinch the 2005 title in a 60-57 win over St. Joe’s. In the exhibition against USC-Aiken, Kinsey had a groundhog day of sorts, hitting the team’s first points of the season – a three-pointer of course.

Face (book) time Carolina will appear on television at least 19 times this season during the regular season, including one tape delay. The 19 appearances will be the most regular-season television appearances ever for the Gamecocks.

SCORE across the Shore

Stephen McDowell and Renaldo Balkman traveled to Germany in July of 2005 as part of the Score International all-star squad. The team played in two cities with McDowell leading the team with 20 ppg and five apg in the Nation’s Cup tournament – a tune-up used by team’s around the world for World University Games. McDowell scored 30 points against the German National Team. Balkman was second in scoring, with 16.3 ppg and led the team with 7.3 rpg.

Brandon Wallace and Tre’ Kelley traveled to the Dominican Republic in July, 2004 as part of the Score International College Basketball Tour. In addition to playing games each day, they also did work in the community. The team was 4-0, including a victory over the Dominican National team (89-83). Leading the team, Wallace averaged 12.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg and 1.5 bpg, while Kelley averaged 12.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 5.5 apg.

Super 7 for Wallace

Brandon Wallace blocked 55 shots last season to bring his grand total to 90 and put him at No. 7 on the career blocked shots list. The 55 ties Ryan Stack who also blocked 55 in the 1997-98 season.

He needs 33 blocks to reach No. 6 — Tony Kitchings (123, 1999-2003) and then one more to hit the top five (Ryan Stack, 124, 1995-96). 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. Last season he has blocked at least one shot in 25 of 33 games – including blocking three or more shots in eight games.

New Kid on the Block

When Ricky Stokes was named head basketball coach at East Carolina this past March, Coach Odom didn’t have to look far. He brought in former Wake Forest graduate assistant Ken Potosnak in June. Potosnak had been at Furman the past eight years prior to working at The Citadel.

Stokes joined former USC assistant football coach Skip Holtz, now the Pirate head football coach.

Here’s a Streak

South Carolina has a current streak of 135 consecutive games with a three-point basket. Not bad, but the streak had reached 216 straight games with USC?having a trey in every game since Jan. 7, 1995 vs. Kentucky. ?The streak ended as Carolina went 0-19 from long range in the regular season finale vs. Mississippi State in 2001.