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Dec. 11, 2005

Playing the second of three straight games against in-state foes, South Carolina hosts Winthrop Wed., Dec. 14 at 7 pm after an 11-day break for finals. The game, one of 22 regular season contests on television this year for the Gamecocks, will be shown on CSS with Matt Stewart and Wimp Sanderson making the call. The game will also be carried on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color analyst) at the mic.

Carolina is riding a three-game winning streak at home (last loss: Florida, 65-66 Feb. 27, 2005). USC is shooting 50.0% exactly and its opponents are shooting 41.1%. USC has 5.7 bpg to its opponents 1.6 bpg. Three of the five Gamecock starters are averaging double figure points (Tarence Kinsey, Renaldo Balkman, Tre; Kelley).

Individually Carolina is led by Kinsey, who is averaging a team-leading 17.4 ppg and 4.0 rpg. The junior trio continues to play well: Balkman leads the team with 8.4 rpg and is second with 13.9 ppg, Kelley is third with 12.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 3.1 apg; and Brandon Wallace is second on the team with 1.9 bpg and is averaging 6.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg.

USC has started the same line-up all seven games this season: guards Kelley and Trice, and forwards Balkman, Kinsey and Wallace.

The defense is not what is was last year – as opponents are averaging 4.0 more ppg against the Gamecocks and 2.2 less turnovers per game.

Them vs. Us

Winthrop comes calling looking for its first-ever win over the Gamecocks. Carolina leads the Winthrop series 4-0 with all games played in Carolina’s back-yard. Last year (Nov. 24, 2004) USC defeated Winthrop 62-52 behind Carlos Powell’s 20 points and Tarence Kinsey’s 15. It is just the third meeting in 14 years between the two schools. USC Head Coach Dave Odom is 5-0 vs. Winthrop and 1-0 with USC. He was 4-0 at Wake Forest (at Wake Jan. 31, 1991: 71-48 W, Jan. 7, 1993: 99-65; Dec. 1, 1993: W 75-59; and at Winthrop Feb. 4, 1995 W 68-54). The Eagles head coach Gregg Marshall is 0-1 vs. the Gamecocks.

With Torrell Martin’s last second three-point attempt off the mark Winthrop dropped a 60-57 contest at the hands of No. 18 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Dec. 3. The Eagles were led by Torrell Martins 24 points.

Carolina is sandwiched between two other SEC away match-ups for the Eagles: Alabama (Dec. 3) and at Auburn (Dec. 29). The Eagles, led by eighth-year coach Gregg Marshall, feature three players averaging in double figures: James Shuler (14.2 ppg), Craig Bradshaw (12.4 ppg) and Torrell Martin (12.2 ppg). Both Bradshaw and Martin led the team with 5.2 rpg.

The Eagles have already done something the Gamecocks haven’t this season: they defeated Marquette 71-64 back on Nov. 19 in front of 11,119 fans.

A few stats on the side

USC is leading the battle of three speciality stats.

USC is averaging 34.9 points in the paint the first seven games to the opponents 25.7.

USC is averaging 23.7 points off turnovers as compared to the opponents’ 17.9 in the first seven games.

USC is averaging 14.1 second chance points to the opponents 15.0.

USC is averaging 9.0 fast break points to the opponents own 2.9.

Oddly Enough – Change that course

While the Gamecocks average a decent mark of 40.3% from beyond three-point range, their opponents are shooting 39.2% from the same. Gamecock opponents have shot 153 three’s to USC’s 119. Their opponents are connecting on 8.6 three-pointers a game to USC’s 6.9 threes a game (opponents have made 60 3’s to USC’s 48).

In addition, Clemson brought down 26 offensive boards in its win over USC, scoring 26 second-chance points. Carolina on the other hand had eight offensive rebounds, scoring nine second-chance points.

Him vs. Them

Talk about a break-out year! Junior Renaldo Balkman, who had what Coach Odom described ‘a disappointing season’ his last year, is making up for lost time. Second on the Gamecock squad with 13.9 ppg (Kinsey leads with 17.4 ppg), Balkman currently, leads the team in just about every category: rebounds (8.4 rpg), assists (tied with Kelley for team lead: 3.1 apg), blocks (2.0 bpg) and steals (1.9 spg). And he’s done it averaging 28.7 mpg to Kinsey’s 31.7 mpg and Kelley’s 31.9 mpg.

He already has two double-doubles this season – the first of his career (vs. Monmouth: 14 PT, 12 REB and at Clemson: a season-high 15 PT, 12 REB). He is yet to match his career-high in either stat: 17 points vs. South Florida (12/14/04) and 16 rebounds at Vanderbilt (3/2/05).

Stepping up A few more notes on Balkman. After seven games his freshman year he was averaging 7.9 ppg and 4.7 rpg. After seven games his sophomore year he had dipped to 7.7 ppg and 5.6 rpg. After seven games this season he is averaging 13.9 ppg and 8.4 rpg.

• Freshman and sophomore years had a total of 109 points in his first seven games combined. This season he has 97 points.

• In the first seven games combined of his first two seasons at Carolina he had 72 rebounds in those 14 games. This season he has brought down 59 boards.

• Coming into this season he had 15 games where he scored 10+ points and he has scored 10+ in all seven games this season.

• Coming into this season he had 21 games where he grabbed 6+ rebounds and he has 6+ in all seven games this season.

In case you are wondering

USC is 1-0 this year following a loss. That stat will be tested on Wednesday night against Winthrop after losing at Clemson Dec. 3.

USC was 8-3 last season following a loss. USC was 6-4 in 2003-04 following a loss.

Our sorted past

USC had an 11 day break for finals (Dec. 3- Dec. 14). Prior to defeating UNC Greensboro on Nov. 30 (77-55) and then falling to Clemson 83-63 on Dec. 3, Carolina finished as the runner-up to Marquette at the Great Alaska Shootout, posting a 2-1 record with wins over Alaska Anchorage (65-60) and Monmouth (62-56) and the overtime loss to Marquette (89-92). The Marquette game marked the first time a Dave Odom-Gamecock coached team scored more than 80 points in a game and didn’t come away with the victory (20-1).

Already a month into the season, USC will only be playing its third home game of the year against Winthrop. But the next six of seven will be played at home, including the SEC opener against Tennessee on Jan. 8.

Across the Ponds

USC has two players on its current roster from foreign countries in addition to different continents – Ousmane Konate (Senegal, Africa) and Keving Palacios (Venezuela, South America), but those players shouldn’t feel alone as there are 396 players from foreign lands this season on Division I rosters. In fact, seven SEC teams have at least one player including Florida (3), Georgia (2), Kentucky (2) and Mississippi State (1) and Vanderbilt (1). On USC’s non-conference opponents, only two teams (Wofford and Detroit-Mercy) do not have a player from outside the 50 states.

Clemson was the last

South Carolina plays three straight games against in-state rivals. Coach Odom is 55-10 overall against all teams in the state of South Carolina — with its only losses coming to in-state rival Clemson. That total includes one game against the Gamecocks as well. The most wins come against Clemson as Odom is 22-10 against the Tigers and is 32-0 against the rest of South Carolina. His first in-state test of the season was not a prosperous one as the Gamecocks fell at Clemson 82-63 on Dec. 3. That game will be followed by games against Winthrop (Dec. 14), Wofford (Dec. 17) and South Carolina State (Jan. 3).

In 25 visits to Littlejohn Coliseum Odom is now 13-12 (including 2-1 with the Gamecocks).