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Jan. 20, 2006

USC will travel to the Bluegrass state to play the Kentucky Wildcats in famed-Rupp Arena on JP television at 1:05 pm (EST) on Sat., Jan. 21. It will be the Gamecocks’ first trip to Lexington since 2001 without the Wildcats in the top 25. Jan. 10, 2001 saw a 69-63 Kentucky win with the Wildcats out of the nation’s top 25 for 11 weeks that season. But the ‘Cats ended up finishing the year at No. 9.

The nation’s winningest team, Kentucky owns a 35-6 series lead and an 18-1 advantage over South Carolina in Lexington. However, South Carolina won the last time the two met – a 73-61 decision in Columbia (Feb. 15, 2005).

Both teams were win less before road trips to Athens and Nashville solved a few ills earlier this week. Both gave the home team a bit of payback for the other: USC lost to UGA in overtime at home Jan. 14 (61-64), while UK lost to Vandy at home Jan. 10 (52-57). UK defeated the Bulldogs Tues., Jan. 17 69-55 in Athens. USC got the best of the Commodores in overtime on Wed., Jan. 18, 64-62.

Kentucky, the pre-season favorite to win the SEC, brings an 11-6 overall record and a 1-2 SEC record. They are 6-3 at home this year – including an 0-2 record in the SEC. The Gamecocks are looking for their fifth win away from the Colonial Center this season and their second straight SEC win. With a 64-62 overtime win at Vanderbilt on Wed., Jan. 18, USC brings a 10-7 overall record and an 1-3 SEC tally to Lexington.

The Kentucky game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley making the call. The Kentucky game will 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 107.

As if there wasn’t enough history there …

UK will honor the 1966 Wildcats, affectionately known as “Rupp’s Runts,” during Saturday’s game. The squad, which fell just short of winning the school’s fifth NCAA title, featured Pat Riley, Thad Jaracz, Louie Dampier, Tommy Kron and Larry Conley, who will be broadcasting the USC game for JP Sports. Every member of the SEC championship team is scheduled to return for the weekend’s festivities.

Missed that one, but got the next one

With a 365-236 career record, Dave Odom has coached 601 career games at the Division 1 level in his 20 seasons as a head coach, including his 600th against Georgia on Jan. 14. He coached games 600 and 601 into overtime, posting a 1-1 record. The first and only time Odom coached two straight games in overtime: Jan. 27, 2001 Odom’s Wake Forest team lost at Cincinnati 72-78 in OT to follow up four days later with a 74-69 win over N.C. State on Jan. 31, 2001.

The last time USC played in two straight extra-minute games: Feb. 6, 1993 USC lost in OT to Clemson (84-89) and then defeated Tennessee in double OT four days later, 111-107 (Feb. 10). In its 98- year history USC has never played three straight overtime games.

Last season the Gamecocks played three overtime games: Clemson, SC State and Ole Miss. This year USC has already played three overtimes (Marquette, Georgia, Vanderbilt). The most overtimes USC has played in a single year in the SEC: three in 2003-04 (2-1). Three is the most overtimes USC has played in one season and the Gamecocks have done that five times: 1958-59 (0-3), 1993-94 (2-1), 2003-04 (2-1), 2004-05 (2-1) and 2005-06 (1-2). USC is 41-37 in school history in OT, including 8-8 in the SEC. At home USC is 20-23, away USC is 9-8 and on neutral floors the Gamecocks are 12-6.

Let’s just not bring that up again

Scoring a game-high 18 points vs. No. 23 Pittsburgh, Tre’ Kelley kept a streak alive he wished he could break. When scoring 16 or more points, Kelley is 1-7. When scoring 17 or more during his Gamecock career, USC is 0-7.

Well, that’s all over now.

Kelley posted a career-high 29 points at Vanderbilt on Jan. 18 and the clocks didn’t stop with USC on the losing end this time as the Gamecocks posted a 64-62 overtime win over the Commodores. His performance included six three-pointers, a career-high and the most since Mike Boynton, Jr. hit six in the SEC Tournament win over LSU (85-64 on March 12, 2004 when he was 6-9).

On the right path

Winning for the eighth time in 10 tries in Nashville, USC got a few monkey’s off its back for the season with the 64-62 OT win:

  • Posted its first SEC win in 2006
  • Posted its first OT win this season.
  • Won its first game (0-8) when trailing at the 5:00 minute mark (now 4-54 under Odom).
  • Won its first game (0-7) when trailing at the 2:00 minute mark (now 6-62 under Odom).
  • Saw Tre’ Kelley lead the team to a win when he scored 17+ (were 0-7 in his career).
  • One negative amongst the positives: dating back to Jan. 15, 2005 (win over UT), Rocky Trice had scored in 34 straight games. His streak was snapped with no points in 7 MIN.

Will anyone ever forget?

Tarence Kinsey scored 17 points and Carlos Powell had 12 in the second half to lead South Carolina to a rare victory over No. 3 Kentucky, 73-61 on Feb. 15, 2005. It was the first home win for the Gamecocks over the Wildcats since 1997, and it was just South Carolina’s sixth victory in 41 meetings against Kentucky.

Fans poured onto the court after the victory, arguably South Carolina’s best in coach Dave Odom’s tenure, and Kinsey stood on press row, slapping high-fives with celebrating students. USC was later fined by the SEC for the on-court post-game celebration.

UK, who had won 19 straight games against SEC opponents, had a season-high 21 turnovers. Chuck Hayes was held to just one point. Kelenna Azubuike led Kentucky with 16 points – five in the second half.

USC built a 58-45 lead with 4:16 left after an 8-0 run and UK never seriously threatened again. The run featured a three-point play and dunk from Carlos Powell, the Gamecocks’ leading scorer who had been held to just two points in the first half. But South Carolina pounded the ball inside to Powell and Kentucky had no answer.

Kentucky couldn’t make any key shots to get a run going in the second half, and could have been hung over from a sluggish nine-point win against Georgia over the weekend, after which coach Tubby Smith told his team he was ashamed of them. UK cut the lead to six with 10 minutes to go, but Rocky Trice’s layup with 8:15 to go gave the Gamecocks a 48-38 lead

Us vs. Them

UK leads the series 35-6 – the most lopsided of all SEC series’ for Carolina. USC hasn’t won in Lexington since the 1997 when it won 72-66 to capture the SEC title. But, USC has played the Wildcats close in Lexington in four of the last five tries, losing by less than seven points each time including by four last year (75-79) prior to missing a last second shot and losing by one in 2004 (64-65).

In the two’s last meeting in Columbia, South Carolina won 73-61 on Feb. 15, 2005.

What we bring to the table

The Gamecocks have three players averaging double figure points this season. The last time USC had three players finish with double figures at season’s end: Odom’s second season in 2002-03 when Carlos Powell (12.6 ppg), Chuck Edison (11.3 ppg) and Rolando Howell (10.0 ppg) all averaged double digits. In SEC play that year, USC had five players averaging double figures when the final buzzer rang: Chris Warren (11.0 ppg), Powell (10.9 ppg), Edison (10.5 ppg), Tony Kitchings (10.3 ppg) and Kerbrell Brown (10.1 ppg).

Individually this year Carolina is led by senior Tarence Kinsey, who is averaging a team-leading 14.9 ppg and is third with 4.8 rpg. Junior Tre’ Kelley is second with 11.8 ppg and leads the team with 3.4 apg and 33.1 mpg. Junior Renaldo Balkman’s third on the team with 10.4 ppg and 2.6 apg and second with 6.4 rpg. He leads the team with 1.6 spg.

Another junior, Brandon Wallace, leads the team with 6.6 rpg and 1.8 bpg, while he second with 2.7 apg and fourth on the team with 7.5 ppg. Wallace also leads the team with 12 dunks this season. His three double-doubles this season top Balkman’s two.

Kinsey leads the team with an 87% free throw percentage. That mark is No. 37 nationally.

They do

Kentucky is 11-6 this year, with a 1-2 record in the SEC. UK has two starters in double figures: Randolph Morris (14.3 ppg) and Rajon Rondo (12.6). Morris has played in just three games after sitting out for an NCAA-enforced suspension of 14 games to open the season. Rondo leads the team with 7.5 rpg and also posts a team-leading 4.5 apg.

Kentucky’s marquee wins this year are over then-No. 13 West Virginia (80-66 on Nov. 22) and then-No. 4 Louisville (73-61 on Dec. 17).

They sure did

While the second half hasn’t been a place Carolina has excelled this year on the scoreboard (see notes in next paragraph), the Gamecocks did score 42 points in the second half against Vandy, after posting 17 points in the first half. The 17 points posted were the lowest for a Gamecock team since USC tallied 17 points in the first half during a 71-61 loss at Temple on Dec. 15, 2003. USC did come back strong that second half in Philadelphia, posting 44 points in the second half.

Prior to the Vandy game, the Gamecocks have been outscored in the second half nine times this season. The Gamecocks are 2-7 in those nine games (wins vs. Toledo and Anchorage; losses vs. Marquette, Clemson, Temple, Pitt, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Georgia) In eight of those nine games, where they were outscored in the second half, Carolina was either leading or tied at the half (Toledo, Anchorage, Marquette, Temple, Pitt, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Georgia).


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

Got this in common

With 719 career victories between them Tubby Smith and Dave Odom, both former National Coaches of the Year, are proven coaches. With both head master’s looking to find the right mix to snap their SEC slides to start the season, both tinkered with the line-ups earlier this week and found success. USC used the sixth starting line-up this season in the win at Vanderbilt, with Tre’ Kelley, Dwayne Day, Antoine Tisby, Brandon Wallace and Tarence Kinsey getting the nod. The Wildcats used their seventh starting lineup in 17 games, with Rajon Rondo, Patrick Sparks, Joe Crawford, Sheray Thomas and Randolph Morris earning the nod.

USC and UK have two common opponents thus far and if USC lost to them, UK beat them and vis versa. USC and UK have both faced Georgia and Vanderbilt in the early going.

Another career day

Dwayne Day started his second straight game at Vanderbilt and made the most of it. He played a career-best 37 minutes, hitting 4-5 three pointers coring 17 points. In the past three games, Day has combined for 41 points and 14 rebounds. Before the Mississippi game, the sophomore had 45 points and 22 rebounds in 13 games played. Snapping a cold streak of 12 games where he made just two of 18 three-pointers (11%), he’s made seven of his last 13 three point attempts (54%).

Day started in his first career game on Jan. 14th against Georgia. Day played 36 minutes totaling 12 points and six rebounds. Four of the six rebounds came on the offensive side of the ball. Day also appeared in the Mississippi game where he posted 12 points and five rebounds.

Better than before

In SEC play, USC has been much better at the free throw line – hitting 74% in SEC games to its opponents 65%. The Gamecocks are No. 3 in the SEC this year, after finishing 11th (61.2%) last year.

At the charity stripe, USC was 4-7 at Vandy (57.1%), 12-18 (67%) vs. Georgia, 23-29 (79%) at Ole Miss and 13-17 vs UT (76%). USC’s efforts at UM were aided by 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 (overall). In SEC games he is also No. 2 at almost 94%. His 11 of 12 performance at Ole Miss tops his 9-9 performance vs. Toledo on Nov. 20, 2005.

The Tampa native 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.

A few notes from Vandy

Brandon Wallace has 5+ REB in 8 of the last 10 games.

Starting his second career games and playing a career-best 37 MIN, Dwayne Day scored in double figures for the third consecutive game and fourth time this season. Tre’ Kelley is the only Gamecock to start every game this season (17). Last season he started every game with the exception of Senior Day.

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 5-6 on TV this season with the next televised game at Kentucky on Jan. 21 (a 1 pm contest on JP). See complete schedule on page one.

On the road again … and again … and again

USC will play four of its next five on the road when it plays 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 855 career points and needs 145 points to hit the 1,000 mark and become the 38th Gamecock to go over the one thousand mark. Averaging 14.9 ppg this season, he would need to average 12.1 ppg in the last 12 regular season games to hit 1,000 career points.

Who else might hit 1,000 in his career? Tre’ Kelley has 667 career points and is averaging a career-high 10.7 ppg this season after hitting 5.1 ppg his freshman year and 8.9 ppg his sophomore year. Kelley has a real shot, with 12 regular season games left this season and figuring about 30 games next season – Kelley would need to average 7.9 ppg from here on out to hit the magical 1,000 mark.