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Jan. 13, 2006

Two teams in search of their first SEC win of the year tip-off at 3:05 pm when South Carolina hosts the Georgia Bulldogs on Sat., Jan. 14 at the Colonial Center. Good seats remain.

USC is coming off a 68-63 loss at Ole Miss on Jan. 11 while the Bulldogs fell at the hands of the Tennessee Volunteers 76-89 the same night.

The Georgia game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley making the call. It will also be carried on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color analyst). In addition, the game can be heard via the internet at and on Sirius radio channel 118.

Hip Hop returns this weekend – as presented by Gatorade!!

In October, the Philadelphia 76ers came to Columbia and brought along its award-winning, crowd-pleasing mascot — Hip Hop. He wowed spectators with his acrobatic skills and inflatable character and left everyone wanting more. Fans need not wait any longer because this weekend, Hip Hop will be back in Columbia to perform not once, but twice at the Colonial Center.

Fans won’t want to miss the chance to see the 76ers mascot in action when the USC men’s basketball team takes on Georgia Sat., Jan. 14th at 3:00, then again when the Carolina women host Vanderbilt on Sun., Jan. 15, at 3 pm.

Gotta get off on the right foot at home

USC is looking for its third straight series sweep against Georgia, but it must start off the effort with a win on Saturday. USC swept the Bulldogs in 2004-05 by winning 75-54 in Columbia and then 60-53 in Athens. USC swept the Bulldogs in 2003-04 with an 84-63 win in Athens and then a 63-47 win in Columbia. The last time USC swept UGA back-to-back-to-back (at least two games played in each season) was the 1943-44, 1945-46 and 1946-47 seasons. It was part of a nine-game winning streak against the Bulldogs – the longest for USC in the series.

USC has won eight of the last 11. USC has swept the Bulldogs four times since being a member of the SEC (1997-98, 2000-01, 2003-04, 2004–05).

Winning the last four, the last time USC posted five straight wins against the Bulldogs was back in the 1950’s when they recorded six consecutive victories.

He said

“Both team coming off losses so that heightens the awareness of the game even more,” said Odom about the contest with Georgia on Saturday. “Both teams are without a conference win as of yet and so both teams will go at it very hard. Georgia is an improved team over last year. They have a few key wins in their non-conference schedule: the Clemson win and the Georgia Tech win – two ACC teams. We know they are a better basketball team this year and they had a good freshmen class coming in.

“We know we will have to be prepared to play very hard on Saturday to win,” continued Odom. “We have to keep mixing and matching and correct the problems that are most glaring. I thought and still think we are going to have a very good basketball team. I hoped we would have a really good basketball team and at times we have played really good, but we haven’t been able to put it together in an SEC-level type of competition game. We will continue to work at it.”

(on the SEC) “This league is extremely strong. This league is up there with the best of them because teams are drastically improved.”

Much Better

While USC has lost the last two games, it has been much better at the free throw line. Against Tennessee, USC was 13-17 (76%) against Tennessee, including Rocky Trice’s 5-5 effort. At Ole Miss, USC was 23-29 (79%) behind Tarence Kinsey’s 11 of 12 performance from the charity stripe. Kinsey’s effort was the best by a Gamecock since Mike Boynton, Jr. hit 17 of 19 in an SEC Tournament second round game against Arkansas (3-11-04), a 91-81 USC win.

Kinsey is No. 2 in the SEC in free throw percentage, hitting 87% of his chances from the charity stripe. His 11 of 12 performance at Ole Miss tops his 9-9 performance vs. Toledo on Nov. 20, 2005. He has improved quite a bit at the free throw line, after hitting 67% last season and 66% in his career. His 66% was third best on the team last season..

Improving quite a bit since the season began, USC is third in the SEC from the free throw line at 78% in SEC play and fifth at 68% in overall play. USC shot 61% last season.

TV time

Carolina will appear on television at least 22 times this season during the regular season, including at least seven games on national television (6 ESPN/ESPN2, 1 CBS) and one tape delay (SUN Sports). The 22 appearances will be the most regular-season television appearances ever for the Gamecocks. USC is 5-5 on TV this season. See complete schedule on page one.

Then he said

“We want to use the two days to get better,” said Georgia head coach Dennis Felton. “I know we made some advance in how we competed as a team against Tennessee. South Carolina has a pension for trapping and pressing and they are very athletic.”

Under third-year head coach Dennis Felton, Georgia is 10-5 this season and 0-2 in the SEC (falling to Florida and at Tennessee). UGA is 6-1 at home, 1-2 in away from home and 3-2 in games played on a neutral court.

The Bulldogs have five players in double figure scoring: Levi Stukes (12.1 ppg), Mike Mercer (11.1 ppg), Sundiata Gaines (10.9 ppg), Channing Toney (10.3) and Billy Humphrey (10.2). Gaines and Humphrey are the teams’ two best rebounders, pulling down 4.7 rpg. Last year the Bulldogs posted an 8-20 record and were 2-14 in the SEC, finishing sixth in the SEC Eastern Division.

Their Last Time

Tennessee’s C.J. Watson scored 20 points and Chris Lofton scored all of his 16 in the second half in the Vol’s 89-76 win over Georgia on Jan. 11.

Gaines led Georgia with 17 points. Mike Mercer and Channing Toney each scored 15. Leading scorer Levi Stukes was in foul trouble most of the game and was held to eight points.

Need to change this column

USC is 3-2 this year following a loss. USC was 8-3 last season following a loss. USC was 6-4 in 2003-04 following a loss.

We Bring

Three of the five Gamecock starters continue to average double figure points and two starters are averaging 6.1+ rebounds per game as well. Individually Carolina is led by Tarence Kinsey, who is averaging a team-leading 15.9 ppg and is third with 4.9 rpg. Renaldo Balkman leads the team with 6.7 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.7 bpg and 11 dunks. Balkman is second with 2.7 apg and 10.9 ppg. Tre’ Kelley is third with 10.8 ppg and leads the team with 3.3 apg. Brandon Wallace, is second with 6.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg and 10 dunks; third with 2.5 apg and fourth with 7.6 ppg.


USC is shooting 48% from the field, third best in the SEC. Only in two games this season has the opponent shot better from the field than Carolina (Mississippi, and Temple). Carolina was playing on the road and USC dropped both of those games. No opponent has posted a higher field goal percentage in a game at the Colonial Center against South Carolina this season. In fact, at home USC is shooting better than 49% to its opponents 37%.

On the road again … and again … and again

Five USC’s next seven games will be on the road. USC will play Georgia at home on Sat., Jan. 14 at 3 pm (JP televised) and then play at Vanderbilt on Jan. 18 and at Kentucky on Jan. 21. After a home game with Florida on Jan. 25, USC plays at UT on Jan. 28, at Arkansas on Feb. 4 and at Florida on Feb. 8. But on the flipside, USC’s next six of seven games after that stretch will be played in the friendly confines of the Colonial Center, beginning with Mississippi State on Feb. 11.

Kinsey’s career, Kelley’s coming up

All told Tarence Kinsey has 841 career points and needs 159 points to hit the 1,000 mark and become the 38th Gamecock to go over the one thousand mark. Averaging 15.9 ppg this season, he would need to average 11.4 ppg in the last 14 regular season games to hit 1,000 career points.

Kinsey has hit 20+ points five times this season. In his first three seasons at USC, Kinsey played in 85 games and in those 85 games he hit the 20+ mark only twice. (23 vs. South Carolina State, 12-22-04 and 21 vs. Idaho, 11-18-03).

Who else might hit 1,000 in his career? Tre’ Kelley has 629 career points and is averaging a career-high 10.8 ppg this season after hitting 5.1 ppg his freshman year and 8.9 ppg his sophomore year.

Second half

The Gamecocks have been outscored in the second half eight times this season. The Gamecocks are 2-6 in those eight games (wins vs. Toledo and Anchorage; losses vs. Marquette, Clemson, Temple, Pitt, Tennessee and Ole Miss) In seven of those eight game, where they were outscored in the second half, Carolina was either leading or tied at the half (Toledo, Anchorage, Marquette, Temple, Pitt, Tennessee and Ole Miss).

Notes from Ole Miss

o Bryce Sheldon made his first start in a Gamecock uniform at Ole Miss. The only player to start every game this season (all 15) is Tre’ Kelley. Last season he started every game with the exception of Senior Night.

o Renaldo Balkman saw his first time in Oxford, coming in at the 15:51 mark in the first half. He did not dress for the Ole Miss game his freshman year in Oxford due to a suspension from the Vanderbilt game. He scored 12 PT and pulled down 7 boards. Balkman has 5 or more rebounds in 12 of 15 games this season.

o Tarence Kinsey hit a personal best 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Kinsey scored in double figures for the 12th time this season. USC is 14-3 in his career when he leads the team in scoring (at Temple 12-22-05; vs. Tennessee 1-8-06; at Ole Miss 1-11-08).

o Dwayne Day played a career best 24 MIN with a career-best 5 REB.

o Ole Miss went on an 8-0 run from 9:40 to 6:51 in the first half, but USC came back to finish the half on its own 7-0 run (2:11 – :00), including a buzzer three-pointer by Tarence Kinsey to knot it at 31-31.

o After playing 35 minutes vs. S.C. State and then 40 minutes vs. Tennessee, junior Brandon Wallace played just five minutes at Ole Miss.

o The game saw seven lead changes and five ties.