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Nov. 9, 2006

South Carolina opens its season vs. South Carolina State for the first time in the two teams 15-game history. USC will also be opening its 99th season of Gamecock Basketball on Friday evening at 7:30 pm. USC is one of eight SEC schools opening its schedule on Friday evening.

S.C. State is led by first-year head coach Jamal Brown, a 1997 Bulldog graduate. Brown took over when Ben Betts left to take an assistant coaching job at the University of Oklahoma.

USC is 14-0 vs. the Bulldogs, recording an 81-46 win last season in Columbia on Jan. 3, 2006 in its final non-conference regular season game of the year.

The S.C. State game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color analyst). The SCSU game can also be heard via the internet at

USC, 23-15 and 6-10 SEC last year, won its second straight post-season NIT title last season with a 76-64 win over Michigan. The two straight titles was a feat only matched by St. John’s in 1943 and 1944. The 23 wins tied Odom’s highest win total at Carolina (23 wins when they advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2004). It was Carolina’s fourth 20-win season in five years under Odom.

He said it early on

“I feel very very confident about what that team can do. It’s my job to push them with all my might that they can be the best team they can be. And that’s what we are going to do. Championships are important, but the most important thing is that you play with dignity and at end the end you look back and say `well done’. That’ what will lead you where you need to go. At this point I am totally comfortable with who my team is. We have a lot of work to do, but I like this team because it’s a team that responds. It has good internal leadership. The hardest thing we have to do with Renaldo Balkman is replace his personality. I like them and they got a chance to be champions and I am going to push them to that.”

Who will, Who won’t

USC will play with just nine players vs. S.C. State and UC-Irvine due to the suspension of Ousmane Konate. As a result of misinformation regarding transferable degree credit, in the fall 2005, Konate was declared ineligible for the first two games of the 2006-07 season as part of the eligibility restoration process.

When USC suits up at Southern California, it should have 10 Gamecocks in uniform, including Konate – the number it will play with this season. Transfers Zam Fredrick (junior, Georgia Tech), Branden Conrad (junior, Navy) and Devan Downey (sophomore, Cincinnati) will all redshirt this season and be eligible for play in 2007–08 per NCAA rules.

vs. the Bulldogs

USC is 14-0 vs. S.C. State in the series between the two schools separated by about 40 miles of I-26 (SCSU is in Orangeburg).

SCSU was 14-16 last season, including 11-7 in the MEAC. The Bullodgs are led by all-conference guard/forward Brian Mason, who averaged 14.3 ppg and 6.1 rpg.

Opening vs. the home state USC opens against SCSU for the first time in its 15-game history. The last time USC opened against someone from SC: 1999 when it defeated Wofford 76-62 on Nov. 19, 1999 and then defeated another in-state team the next game: The Citadel 68-51 on Nov. 21.

Early birds

While Nov. 10 might sound early to most Gamecock basketball fans, USC has opened it season sooner. In 1998 USC lost to Valpariso in the NABC Classic on Nov. 7 (61-67). USC fell the next day (Nov. 8) to Indiana 55-76.

vs. the MEAC

USC is 15-1 vs. the MEAC, including 14-0 vs. S.C. State. In other MEAC action USC defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore (Nov. 29, 1985; 113-77). The 113 Gamecock points are the fifth-highest tally for a Gamecock team in a regular season game. On the other end of the spectrum, USC fell to Coppin State to end its season in 1997 (65-78, First Round of the NCAA Tournament on March 14, 1997).

Not your average road-trip

USC will play in California twice in three days next week, bringing a 5-1 record to the Golden State. USC has never played in Los Angeles, but is 2-0 in San Diego, 2-0 in San Francisco and 1-1 in Santa Clara.

USC meets UC-Irvine for the first time on Tues., Nov. 14 at 10 pm (EST). USC has a home and home with the Anteaters which will feature UC-Irvine traveling to Columbia next year. UC-Irvine is coached by Pat Douglass and he is 138-120 in nine years at the helm. The coaches have not faced each other in the past nor have the schools.

USC is 1–0 vs. Southern California. USC will open Southern California’s new $150 million Galen Center (10,258) with its game on Nov. 16 on FSN at 10:30 pm (EST).

The only time the two USC’s met was in 1977 when South Carolina hosted the Trojans and won in overtime 65-58 on Dec. 22 in its opening game of the Carolina Classic. The next day USC was defeated by Oklahoma 48-65 (Dec. 23).

Kelley and Wallace climbing up in the books

Tre’ Kelley is working on some career milestones this year.

• He enters the year with 941 career points. Averaging 9.0 ppg during his career, he’s on pace to hit 1,000 by game seven. If he hits 1000 points, he will be the 39th player at USC to do so.

• He enters the year with 361 assists, No. 10 on the all-time career assists list. He needs 10 assists to pass No. 9 (Mike Dunleavy, 1973-76, 370 assists) and 21 assists to move to No. 7 (passing BJ McKie with 382 assists from 1996-99). The school record is 543 set by Melvin Watson from 1995-98.

• He enters the year tied at No. 10 with Herbert Lee Davis (1997-2000) with 112 career three-pointers. He needs six to move up to No. 8. The school record is 264 set by Jamel Bradley fro 1999-2002.

• He enters the year at No. 10 with 346 career three-point attempts. He needs two to move up to No. 9 to pass Antonio Grant (347, 1997-2001). Bradley is the record holder and attempted 686 during his career (1999-2002).

• With a successful season, he could enter the top 10 career lists for most games played (enters with 105 games played; No. 10 is 121 by 3), most games started (enters with 73 games started; No. 10 is 101 by 2) and most minutes played (enters with 2892 minutes played; No. 10 is 3476 by 1).

Brandon Wallace is also working on a few career milestones himself.

• He is currently No. 4 in career blocks with 163. He needs 64 blocks to move to No. 3 (Jeff Roulston, 226, 1989-92). The school record is 235 blocks by Danny Traylor (1971-73).

• With a successful season, he could enter the top 10 career lists for most games played (enters with 105 games played; No. 10 is 121 by 3).

Post-season USC has 11 teams on its schedule that played in the post-season last year. The following played in the NCAA Tournament: Kansas, Florida (NCAA Champions), Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU (Final Four) and Tennessee, The following played in the NIT: UC-Irvine, Lipscomb, Clemson and Vanderbilt.

Carolina recorded a 1-2 record against teams who made the NIT field of 40 during the regular season last year and are on the schedule this year.

Vanderbilt 1-1

Clemson 0-1

Carolina recorded a 5-7 record against teams who made the NCAA Tournament last year and are on the schedule this year.

Florida 2-1

Alabama 1-0

Kentucky 1-2

Tennessee 1-2

LSU 0-1

Arkansas 0-1


With the 76-64 over Michigan, USC finished last season by winning its 10th-straight NIT game, setting an NIT record. The 21 wins in the NIT are the best for a team in the SEC. The Gamecocks are the 13th team to have two or more NIT championship trophies It was another milestone win at the Garden for Odom: as it was Coach Odom’s 100th career victory at South Carolina. He won his 300th career game over Syracuse in the 2002 NIT semifinals.

20 Plus

With the win over Florida State to advance to the NIT semi-finals, Carolina clinched its third-20 win season in a row. It was the first time a Carolina coach won 20+ three straight years since the Frank McGuire era when he won 20+ in six consecutive seasons (1969-1974). Odom’s teams have won 20+ in four of his five years at USC.