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Nov. 16, 2006

Looking to settle the score for ‘who the real USC is’ the two school’s basketball teams will play in a historic game that features the opening of Southern California’s new $150 million Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles. South Carolina (1-1) and Southern California (0-0) have met on the hardcourt just once: a 65-58 OT win for the Gamecocks in Columbia on Dec. 22, 1977.

After a 67-52 loss to UC-Irvine on Tuesday night, South Carolina travels up to Los Angeles to play Southern California on Thurs., Nov. 16 at 10:30 pm (EST). The game will be shown on the Fox Sports Network with Jim Watson and Paul Westphal making the call.

The USC-USC game will be broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio channel No. 181. The game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color analyst). It can also be heard via the internet at

South Carolina, 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.

The Trojans
Southern California’s game vs. South Carolina will be its season opener. The Trojans, led by second-year head coach Tim Floyd, were 17-13 last year. They were sixth in the Pac-10 with an 8-10 record and fell 82-67 in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament to Cal.

They return three starters who averaged more than 12 ppg: Nick Young (17.3 ppg), Gabe Pruitt (16.9 ppg) and Lodrick Stewart (12.3 ppg).

Our guy from the West Coast
South Carolina features one player from the West Coast: 6-5 guard/forward Bryce Sheldon, who hails from Anaheim. He attended Loara High School and went to Fullerton College for two years before coming east to Carolina last season. Sheldon expected 60 friends and family at the UC-I game on Tuesday and should have close to the same number on Thursday night.

Sheldon played a career-high 36 MIN at UCI, scoring 12 PT with 2 REB, 1 AST and 1 BLK.

Who did
When USC suits up at Southern California, it should have 10 Gamecocks in uniform, including Ousmane Konate – the number it will play for now. 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.

USC had to play with just nine players vs. S.C. State and UC-Irvine due to the suspension of 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.

Turn that luck around
Coming into this season, USC had won three straight road games (at Auburn (67-63) , at Florida State (69-68 OT) and at Cincinnati (65-62) going into the UC-Irvine game and hope to turn the tide vs. the Trojans. History might be on the Gamecocks side. The Gamecocks were 8-6 following a loss last season, they were 8-3 in 2004-05 and 6-4 in 2003-04.

Not your average road trip
USC visits the state of California this week, playing twice in three days. The loss at UC-Irvine gives USC a 5-2 record in the Golden State. USC has never played in Los Angeles, but is 2-0 in San Diego, 2-0 in San Francisco, 1-1 in Santa Clara. and 0-1 in Irvine after Tuesday’s 67-62 loss.

The last time USC played in California: in 1991 a Steve Newton Gamecock-led team defeated San Diego State in double overtime, 7169 (Dec. 21, 1991). The Gamecocks had defeated George Washington 69-58 the day before at San Diego.

USC is 1–0 vs. Southern California. 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 65-48 (Dec. 23).

USC vs. Pac-10
South Carolina is 2-3 vs. the Pacific Ten, including a 1-0 record vs. Southern California. USC is 0-1 at Arizona State, 1-0 vs. California and 0-1 vs. Stanford and UCLA – both at neutral sites.

In his shoes
Freshman Brandis Raley-Ross had to bounce off the bench to aid the Gamecock cause on Tuesday night vs. UC-Irvine when senior Tre’ Kelley got into foul trouble with three fouls early and played only seven minutes in the first half. Kelley had to sit at the 13 minute mark until the end of the half.

Raley-Ross poured in a career-high and team-high 14 points (5-11), hitting 4-5 free throws in 28 MIN.

Scoring is not foreign to Raley-Ross, who remarked earlier in the week that the seven points he scored vs. SCSU last week were ‘an all-time low for me’. He averaged 29 ppg his senior year at Gaston Day School in Gastonia, N.C. last season and 28 ppg his junior year.

The 24 minutes played in the UCI game were the fewest amount played for Kelley since he played 21 in the 87-62 win at Western Carolina on Nov. 15, 2005.

Holding onto the Rock
To end the 2006 season USC turned the ball over 64 times in its last seven games (9.1 topg) while its opponents turned it over almost twice as many times at 105 times (15 topg) during that span.

USC has picked up right where it left off last year, turning the ball over just seven times vs. SCSU and only eight times at UC-Irvine. Playing 39 minutes, Tre’ Kelley posted no turnovers vs. SCSU and playing a career-high 36 MIN Bryce Sheldon had 0 TO vs. UCI.

USC leads the TO War this season, averaging 7.5 topg while the competition has averaged 16.5 topg.

This season USC is 1-1 after posting 10 or fewer turnovers. USC did just that 13 times last year, posting an 11-2 record. All told under Odom USC has turned the ball over 10 or fewer times 46 times, posting a 33-13 record.

Not so much of that again
USC continued a streak it wish it hadn’t on Tuesday night vs. UCI, shooting just 35.6 percent vs. the Anteaters after shooting 33.9 percent vs. SCSU. USC scored just 19 points in the first half vs. UCI. The last time USC made less than 20 in a half: USC soored 18 points in the first half of the SEC Tournament final last March vs. Florida before losing 49-47 to the Gators.

Carolina shot a lowly 5.6 percent (1-18) from the three point line vs. SCSU and followed up by hitting 4-24 (16.7%) vs. UC-I. The last time USC shot that poorly: the 49-47 loss to Florida in the SEC Tournament Championship (30.0 %). The last time USC made just one three-pointer in a game: the Gamecocks shot 1-14 (7 %) vs. East Carolina on Dec., 20, 2004, but got away with the 57-53 win in Mobile.

With the four threes vs. UCI, USC extended its streak to 175 consecutive games with a three-point basket Not bad, but the streak had reached 221 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.