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March 12, 2006

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Game 33 o No. 14 Florida vs. South Carolina o March 12, 2006 o Gaylord Entertainment Center o Nashville, Tenn.

Tipoff: 1:05 pm (EST)
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery)
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network
Series Record: UF leads 29-21
In Columbia: UF leads 14-12
In Gainesville: UF leads 14-6
Neutral: USC leads 2-1
Last Meeting: USC won 71-67 in Gainesville on Feb. 8, 2006

South Carolina
Head Coach: Dave Odom
USC Record: 95-69 (5th year)
Overall Record: 373-243 (20th year)
Record vs. UF: 3-9 (1-4 H, 2-4 A, 0-1 N)

No. 14 Florida
Coach: Billy Donovan (Providence, 1987)
UF Record: 218-98 (10th year)
Overall Record: 254-118 (12th year)
Record vs. USC: 13-8

Gamecocks play Gators in SEC Tournament Finals

“This is what five year boys dream about – playing on Sunday in the tournament championship,” said USC Head Coach Dave Odom.

USC, 18-14 and 6-10 in the SEC, advanced to the finals of the SEC Tournament with Florida at 1 pm on Sun., March 12. USC advanced to the finals by defeating Mississippi State 59-44 on Thurs. in the first round, No. 14 Tennessee on Fri., 79-71 and Kentucky in the semi-finals on Sat. Florida, the No. 2 seed in the East, advanced to the finals with wins over Arkansas on Friday (74-71) and LSU on Sat. (81-65). Florida finds itself in its third consecutive SEC Tournament title game and in search of its second straight crown, losing to Kentucky in 2004 before winning the tournament in 2005.

What’s up for grabs? The SEC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The game will be carried on CBS national television with Bill Raftery and Verne Lundquist making the call. The UF game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color analyst). The UF game can also be heard via the internet at

This and That

* Carolina is 19-12 under Coach Odom in the month of March. Since joining the league in 1991-92, SC is now 35-33 in March.

* Someone is gonna go home unhappy on Sunday. The Gators come in averaging 80.2 ppg, while the Gamecocks feature the league’s top defense, giving its opponents just 63.1 ppg. The Gators give their opponents 65.3 ppg, while USC scores 67.7 ppg.

* USC has played in the SEC Championship game just once in its 15 seasons. They defeated Florida (71-60), Ole Miss (87-77) before falling to Kentucky (56-86) in the championship game.

* 35 years ago USC won the ACC Tournament behind the likes of Frank McGuire and Co. In that run to the title USC defeated Maryland (71-63), NC State (69-56) and North Carolina (52-51) in the title game.

* USC made the semi-finals for the third time in five years under Odom. Prior to defeating Kentucky 65-61 on Friday in the semis, they lost 57-65 to Alabama in 2002 and 63-78 in 2004 to Kentucky, but neither team had played on Thursday as Kentucky did this year.

* Could history repeat itself? USC won the season series against Florida this season (68-62 in Columbia and 71-67 in Gainesville). The last time USC won the season series was in 1998 when USC won 74-72 in Columbia, 79-74 at Gainesville and put icing on top of it all with a 71-60 win in the SEC Tournament in Atlanta, Ga.

* South Carolina has broken Gator fans hearts at least four times this year with its win in football (30-22), two men’s basketball wins and a women’s basketball win in Gainesville. Many Carolina fans wonder if the famed Chicken Curse is dead and the new ‘curse’ of the Gamecocks is USC’s mastery over the Gators with the addition of Gamecock head football coach and former Gator coach Steve Spurrier.

* The eight assists by Tre’ Kelley are the most by a Gamecock in a SEC Tournament game. The previous high was six by Larry Davis (vs. LSU on 3/7/96), Chuck Edison (vs. Alabama (3/9/00), and Aaron Lucas (vs. Tennessee, 3/10/00). Carolina won all four of those SEC Tournament games.

* USC has turned the ball over just 27 times in the SEC Tournament (9.0 TO a game) – including seven times vs. Kentucky on Saturday. USC turned the ball over just four times in its win over Mississippi State on Thursday – the fewest turnovers since USC turned it over just four times in a 75-77 loss to Florida on Jan. 18, 2003. USC’s SEC Tournament opponents have turned the ball over 51 times (17 topg). In UT’s 21 TO in its loss to Carolina on Friday were just one below a season-high for opponents with UNC Greensboro’s 22 TO on Nov. 30, 2005 being the worst for an opponent. MSU turned it over 17 times and Kentucky 13 times.

* Tarence Kinsey moved up to No. 29 on the career points list (1095). If Kinsey starts the UF game, he will be No. 6 on the single season most games started list and will be tied with three other former Gamecocks.

* If he starts the Florida game, Tre’ Kelley will jump to No. 4 on the single season list for games started at 33 – joining two others. Others on career lists: Brandon Wallace is No. 5 in career blocked shots and Renaldo Balkman is No. 7.

* Tarence Kinsey has scored 20+ points nine times this season and a career best 24 points three times. Prior to this season, in 85 games he had only scored 20+ points twice.

* In addition to Kinsey, Tre’ Kelley has hit 20+ four times this season – including 25 in the win over No. 14 Tennessee – and Renaldo Balkman has hit it once.

* USC won three SEC road games this season (at Vandy, Florida, Auburn), matching the same total of 2004 (at Auburn, Vandy, Georgia). The last time USC won four SEC road games: 1998 (at Georgia, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Florida).

* The win at Auburn was Odom’s 370th win as a head coach and he needs five more wins to hit 100 wins at USC.

* Carolina is 11-4 this season when Bryce Sheldon hits a three-pointer in a game. The four losses came against Marquette, Clemson, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The UT and UK games were both in Columbia while the Marquette game was at a neutral site and the game against the Tigers was up in Clemson. When he hits three or more three’s in a game, Carolina is 4-1 on the season. When he scores 10 or more in a game, the Gamecocks are 3-0.

Gamecock Leaders

Tarence Kinsey heads up the Gamecock cause with 15.4 ppg. Kinsey leads USC in scoring in every way you figure it: SEC games (15.4 ppg), wins (15.8 ppg), losses (14.9 ppg), home (15.3 ppg), away (14.8 ppg) and neutral (17.0 ppg). Kinsey also leads the team in 3pt % (39.7%) and free throw % (86.4%). He is second in MPG (34.3) and steals (1.3) and third in assists (2.2). Kinsey is 14 of 28 from 3 pt land in the past five games after going 3-26 in the five previous games. He has hit at least one three in 27 games this season.

Tre’ Kelley is second with 12.0 ppg and leads the team with 4.4 apg and 34.5 mpg. Brandon Wallace leads the team with 6.1 rpg and 1.6 bpg. He is second with 2.3 apg and fourth with 7.4 ppg. Wallace has 14 blocks in the last five games. His four double-doubles top Renaldo Balkman’s three and Kinsey’s two. Balkman’s third on the team with 9.7 ppg and 2.0 apg. He leads the team with 1.6 spg and his 5.9 rpg are second-best on the USC roster.

Moving up more and more

Tarence Kinsey has tallied 1,095 career points – hitting his 1000th career point with a free throw in the second half vs. Vandy (18:45). He becomes the 38th Gamecock to go over the 1,000 mark. He is No. 29 currently and will move to No. 28 if he scores nine points (1104, Ray Pericola, 1956-59) and No. 27 if he scores 13 (1108, Jamel Bradley, 1998-2002).

Kinsey’s 493 points this season have already surpassed the points he scored in his sophomore (273) and junior years (286). He scored just 43 points in an injury riddled freshman season. Kinsey has hit 20+ points nine times this season, including three 21 point performances at Kentucky, vs. UK and vs. No. 21 LSU. In his first three seasons at USC, Kinsey played in 85 games and he had hit the 20+ mark only twice. (23 vs. S.C. State, 12-22-04 and 21 vs. Idaho, 11-18-03).

His 120 career three-pointers put him at No. 7 all-times. With five more 3 pointers he will catch Melvin Watson (125, 1995-98). Not bad for a guy who went 1 of 14 from beyond the arc his freshman year, scoring 43 points while he suffered from a number of injuries.

His 329 three-point attempts put him at No. 10 all-time. He needs four more attempts to reach Herbert Lee Davis (333, 1997-2000).

Another career list possibility: he needs two more steals to match Carey Rich at No. 10 with 127 steals (1993-95).

If the season ended today, he would finish at No. 6 on the all-time career three-point % list (36.5%). In addition he would finish at No. 4 on the free throw % list for a single season with a 86.6%, tying Scotti Ward’s same effort in 1963.

Keepin’ it going

Hitting 10 three’s vs. Kentucky – USC extended its streak to 167 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. MSU in 2001.

Blockin’ Machines

Brandon Wallace’s has 142 career blocks for No. 5 on the career list. He needs 18 more blocks to hit No. 4 Mike Brittain (160, 1983-86).

Wallace has blocked three or more shots in six games this season, tallying 52 on the year. Wallace has blocked a shot in 64 of the 98 games he’s played. He has three+ blocks in 22 games in his career. After blocking 35 shots his freshman year, Wallace blocked 55 shots last season. The 55 were the most since Ryan Stack blocked 55 in the 1997-98 season.

Renaldo Balkman has 37. Balkman has already topped last year’s total of 21 after blocking 43 his freshman campaign. Balkman has 101 blocks in his career, which puts him at No. 7 on the career list. Next on his list was the man Wallace just finished off: Tony Kitching with 123 (1999-2003).