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Jan. 24, 2006

Returning to the Colonial Center for just a one-game home stand, before hitting the road for three more outside of Palmetto State borders, South Carolina will host the Florida Gators on JP television at 8:05 pm (EST) on Wed., Jan. 25.

The UF game will be televised on Jefferson-Pilot with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley making the call. The 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.

Both teams lost on the road last weekend in close calls: USC fell at Kentucky in a last second three-pointer by UK’s Rajon Rondo (made shot with 1.4 ticks on the clock). Florida, then-No. 2, was staring No. 1 right in the eye with No. 1 Duke’s 65-60 loss at Georgetown earlier that afternoon, but the Gators were bested at Tennessee 80-76 in front of a sold-out Thompson-Boling Arena – the Vols first sell-out in 15 years for a men’s basketball game (24,011). The Gators had won 21 consecutive regular season games overall dating back to a loss at LSU on Feb. 19, 2005.

On the road again … and again … and again

From Jan. 11 to Feb. 11, USC will have played half of its SEC schedule. Of those eight games, six will have been on the road, including the next three straight after the 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.

Prior to the Florida game at home on Wednesday, USC had played at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

But on the flip side after that stretch USC’s next five of six will be played in Columbia at the Colonial Center In that six game stretch USC will host Mississippi State (Feb. 11, FSNS), Alabama (Feb. 14, ESPN), Kentucky (Feb. 18, CBS), Vanderbilt (Feb. 25, JP) and LSU (Feb. 28, ESPN). During that time USC will travel to Georgia on Feb. 23 for a rematch on ESPN. USC will close out the regular season at Auburn on March 4.

Hello … Gamecock Students!

The first 800 student fans at the Florida game will receive a free Tie-Dye T-shirt to wear at the game. For the six remaining home games, USC students will also receive a very special deal as well when wearing the t-shirt to those home games: a hot dog and drink for $2! A hot dog and a drink for two dollars just for wearing the t-shirt!


Event to be held outside Colonial Center prior to USC vs. Florida MBB Game

The National Champion South Carolina Equestrian team will host the 2006 Saddles and Spurs Exhibition Wednesday prior to the 8 p.m. tip-off of the men’s basketball game against Florida. The affair will be held at the fountain in front of the Colonial Center from 6:15-7:45 p.m. The first 150 fans can take a free photo with members of the team and the horses.

This marks the second year the equestrian team has hosted this display. Fans of all ages are encouraged to come out early and visit with the reigning champions, including 2004 hunt seat champion Tara Brothers, and two of USC’s competition horses.

The Gamecock return to action this weekend when then travel to College Station, Texas for the Big 8 Western Tournament, Jan. 28-29. USC’s first home competition for the spring season is Feb. 4 against South Dakota State.

Close calls

The last three games between Florida and USC in Columbia have been decided by three points or less – a total of six points.

The last five meetings in Columbia against Florida

2000-01 W 69-68
2001-02 L 72-63
2002-03 L 77-75
2003-04 L 65-62
2004-05 L 66-65

A few things on Florida

While USC and Florida opponents only score 62.8 and 62.1 ppg, respectively, the two schools offenses differ quite a bit. Florida scores an average of 83.8 ppg – hitting 80+ points in 11 games this year. The Gamecocks on the other hand have hit 80+ three times this season.

Dave Odom is still in search of his first SEC win against two schools: Florida and Mississippi State. He defeated both schools while at Wake Forest. Prior to leaving Wake, where he headed up the Demon Deacons for 12 years, he had defeated every then-ACC team at least eight times each.

Too many … Close Calls

South Carolina has had four games this season decided by three points or less including three in a row – Georgia (61-64), Vanderbilt (66-64) and Kentucky (78-80). All three games decided by three or less came down to the game’s final seconds: UGA’s Stukes made game winner with 1 second on the clock in OT; Tre’ Kelley laid up the game winner at Vandy with 5 seconds left in OT and UK’s Rajon Rondo made a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds left on the clock.

Three of the four games that were decided by three points or less went to overtime. Each of USC’s first five SEC games have all been decided by seven points or less.

Games Decided by: No. of times Record
3 or less 4 (1-3)
5 or less 2 (1-1)
10 or less 4 (1-3)
11 or more 8 (7-1)

He talked, then he talked

Billy Donovan and Dave Odom are scheduled back-to-back on the SEC coaches teleconference on Monday’s and Thursday’s. Here’s some of what they said on Monday. Donovan on playing South Carolina: “I was really proud with how our kids competed this weekend, we’ll have to bounce back and get ready to play on the road again, against a South Carolina team that played well and had a chance to beat Kentucky. They’ve had some great games on the road and a team that these last couple of games has shot the ball really well. They’re very well coached, change defenses, and we have a lot to prepare for in the next two days before we get there.”

Odom, a few minutes later on playing Florida: “we are obviously playing one of the best teams in the country. There is no good time to play a Billy Donovan-coached team. Certainly the team he has put together this year is a real contender. As I look at Florida’s team I see just that, a team. I think they lead our conference in assists; they’re easily the best pass-catch team I’ve seen. They’re the best runners I’ve seen, as a combination of big guys. When I look at Florida, I say if we don’t get all five players back on defense then we can’t even go to the second part of our game. We’re probably not catching them at a great time, they are coming off their first loss, but our guys want to win, too.

“We shot the ball well at Kentucky, the team rose to the occasion,” said Odom. “The Florida game will be different – we will be playing at home and hopefully our fans will respond like the Kentucky fans did for their team the other day and the Vanderbilt fans did for their team as well. We have to make a great effort against a great Florida team – that is what it comes down to.”

This one says that, the other says this

After sitting at No. 2 the past couple weeks, Florida fell to No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and No. 5 in the AP poll. With its 80-76 win over Florida, Tennessee jumped back into the nation’s top 20 this week: the Vols are No. 20 in the ESPN poll and No. 19 in the AP poll.

UF and UT are the only two SEC teams ranked in the top 25 this week.

Us vs. Them

UF leads the series 29-18. UF has won 13 of its last 14 tries against USC, stubbing its toe just once: a 69-68 win by the Gamecocks on a last second three-pointer by seldom-used Travis Kraft on Jan. 7, 2001 when the Gators were ranked No. 5 nationally.

The series dates back to 1926 when the Gamecocks topped the Gators 30-22 on Feb. 12, 1926. This past season in football, Carolina defeated the Gators for the first time in 15 tries. The final score was South Carolina 30, Florida 22.

The two played each other seven of the next 10 years with USC coming out on top 8-7. The duo played just once after 1934 – a 77-71 win by Carolina in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 27, 1957 in the Gator Bowl Classic – until USC began play in the SEC in 1992.

Our top 3 or 4

Individually Carolina is led by senior Tarence Kinsey, who is averaging a team-leading 15.2 ppg, is second with 33.2 mpg and is third with 4.8 rpg. Junior Tre’ Kelley is second with 11.9 ppg and leads the team with 3.4 apg and 33.3 mpg. Junior Renaldo Balkman’s third on the team with 10.2 ppg and 2.3 apg and second with 6.3 rpg. He leads the team with 1.5 spg.

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).

Brandon Wallace, leads the team with 6.5 rpg and 1.6 bpg, while he second with 2.7 apg and fourth on the team with 7.3 ppg. Wallace also leads the team with 12 dunks this season. His three double-doubles this season top Balkman and Kinsey’s each.

Beyond the arc

USC is excelling beyond the arc, sitting at No. 2 in SEC stats with 8 treys a game. After starting very slow on the road, hitting just 2 at Ole Miss, USC has hit 12 at Vandy and 11 at Kentucky. USC’s season high is 14 vs. Wofford – tied for second most in school history with three other teams, but was the most for the Gamecocks since they hit 114 in their 90-82 OT win over Alabama on Feb. 4, 2004.

But, on the flip side USC is No. 12 among SEC teams, allowing teams to shoot 44%+ beyond the arc.

Hate to jinx the guy

Tarence Kinsey leads the team with an 88% free throw percentage – No. 1 in the SEC. That mark is No. 37 nationally. He is 51-58 in overall play

Number one in SEC play as well – he has hit a sparkling 95% from the line in SEC play – hitting 19 or 20 freebies this year. Pretty amazing for a guy who came in this season hitting barely 65% of his free throws (114 of 174 prior to this season).

Kinsey’s only miss in SEC play this year — including two overtimes – a night when he went 11 of 12 at Ole Miss (missed the back-end at the 16:25 mark in the 2nd half). Since then he has hit all 12 donations at the charity stripe. When asked why he had improved so much this year, his answer: ‘I practiced those everyday in the gym this summer.’ That practice has paid off!

His 11 of 12 performance at Ole Miss tops his 9-9 performance vs. Toledo on Nov. 20, 2005.

Thanks for the extra chances

Aided by Tarence Kinsey’s success at the free throw line in SEC play, USC has been much better at the free throw line – hitting 73% in SEC games to its opponents 64%. The Gamecocks are No. 2 in the SEC this year, after finishing 11th (61.2%) last year.

At the charity stripe, USC was 9-13 at Kentucky (69.2%), 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 Kinsey’s 11 of 12 performance from the charity stripe.

Kinsey’s effort vs. Ole Miss 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.

Day by Day

Dwayne Day scored 18 points in USC’s first game of teh year at Western Carolina – hitting a then-career high 4 three pointers. After that, Day seemed to fade into the wood-work, missing 18 of his next 22 3-point attempts. Since then he’s made 11 of his last 21 three point attempts (52%). Finally, he popped off the bench at Ole Miss and scored 12 points in 25 minutes.

Starting the last three games, Day has made up for lost time. He hit four 3’s in each of the last two games, scoring 17 and 18 points, respectively at Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Day, who averaged only 10.3 mpg in non-conference play, is averaging 26.4 mpg in SEC play.

In the past four games, Day has combined for 59 points and 20 rebounds. Before the Mississippi game, the sophomore had 45 points and 22 rebounds in 13 games played. He scored all of 34 points his freshman year, including a 14-point performance at Florida.

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.

TV time

USC will appear on television at 22 times 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 are the most regular-season television appearances ever for the Gamecocks. USC is 5-7 on TV this season with the next televised game is Florida in the Colonial Center on Jan. 23 in an 8 pm contest on JP). See complete schedule on page one.

Six Times; More and More

Tarence Kinsey has hit 20+ points six times this season, including a 21 point performance at Kentucky where he was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. 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). His 274 points this season already surpassed his xx points his sophomore year and are only 12 off his total of 286 from last year.

All told Kinsey has wracked 876 career points and needs 124 points to hit the 1,000 mark and become the 38th Gamecock to go over the one thousand mark. Averaging 15.2 ppg this season, he would need to average 11.3 ppg in the last 11 regular season games to hit 1,000 career points.

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.

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.

Kentucky and Carolina both scored 40 points each in the second half. Prior to the Vandy game, the Gamecocks had 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).