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Jan. 11, 2007

South Carolina, 10-4 and 0-1 in the SEC, returns home to host its SEC home opener by welcoming the defending NCAA Champion Florida Gators. The No. 2 Gators come in with a 15-2 record, including 2-0 in the SEC. Florida is riding an eight-game winning streak, while Carolina has dropped two straight after piecing together a six-game winning streak.

The Carolina-Florida game is on Lincoln Financial TV with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley making the call. The USC-UF game will also be carried by Westwood One (national radio) with Joey Wahler and Bill Frieder calling the game. The Carolina-Florida game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color analyst). It can be picked up via the internet at Good seats remain for the Florida game. No rest for the weary as USC will then host Kentucky on Tues., Jan. 16 in a 9 pm ESPN-televised game.

UF leads the series 30-19 including 15-11 in Columbia. UF, who leads the nation in field goal shooting (53.9%) and has four starters in double figures (Brewer, 13.1; Noah, 12.3; Horford, 12.1; and Green, 13.8), while USC has two scoring double digits (Kelley, 15.7 and Wallace, 11.6). Wallace paces USC with 9.4 boards per game, while Noah leads the Gators with 8.3 rpg.

The Gamecocks opened their 16th season of SEC play at Georgia on Wed., Jan 10 and fell 80-56 in their worst lost in Athens since 2000 (62-90 at Georgia on Jan. 22, 2000). USC is 5-11 in SEC openers, including 1-6 on the road. It was the first time USC opened the SEC slate against Georgia during its 16 years in the SEC.

The Gators are 2-0 in the SEC with home wins against Georgia (67-51, Jan. 6) and Arkansas (79-72, Jan. 10).

USC won the season series last year with a 68-62 win in Columbia and a 71-67 victory in Gainesville, but fell 49-47 in the SEC Tournament Championship game. The Gators went on to win the NCAA title, while USC went on to win its second straight NIT title. It was the first time in history that the NIT champion swept the season series with the NCAA champion in the same year.

USC had won six straight, but has dropped the last two (vs. No. 9 Kansas and at Georgia). It was USC’s first loss to a top 10 team in four tries. This year USC opened the season with three of the first five on the road and has tallied a 3-2 record on the road. Carolina is 7-2 at home.

Coach Speak on Thursday

The two head coaches were featured back-to-back on the SEC teleconference on Thursday. The following are a couple of their comments:

UF’s DONOVAN (On upcoming game): “We had the opportunity last year to play South Carolina three times. I have great respect for Dave (Odom). Anytime you go on the road in this league it’s challenging. I like their team, and we know on the road in this league we’ll have our work cut out for us.”

(On team play) “I’d say we can get better all the way around. I don’t think any team in the country is where they want to be. What I like is that we have the right mentality. They continue to play unselfish, they work hard in practice, and they still want to win. The mindset of the team is what makes you grow and get better. I’m happy that we didn’t pick up where we left off last year. We’ve had some losses and setbacks and that keeps you grounded. I see eagerness in them to want to get better.”

USC’s ODOM (On upcoming game) “The Gators are playing at the top of their game right now. It’s remarkable what they’ve done in football and basketball, but particularly basketball. I joked with our local media the other day that if their football could just work a little harder, they might have a chance to be good as the basketball team (UF just won the BCS title in football). They’ve got the ability to score inside and outside and they’re very comfortable together. Our team is facing some real obstacles right now. We don’t have the numbers on the bench and against Georgia it showed.”

(On Kelley’s knee): “He’s a tough young man and he is trying his best to do what he can for our basketball team. Since he’s been back, he’s not quite at full speed. I think it hurts him more at defense than offense. He’s tentative on his knee and you can see it. He doesn’t quite have the burst of speed and that has an effect on getting teammates open and making shots himself. He wants to play and try to help the team. It’s affecting him and there’s no reason to say it’s not.”

Bright spots!

* Tre’ Kelley can score and dish it. He has scored double digits in all but two games this season (4 vs. CofC and 9 at Georgia). He leads the team with 15.7 ppg. He has 5.0 apg and has 4+ AST in 10 of 13 games this year.

* Brandon Wallace can rebound. He leads the team with 9.4 rpg, snaring 8+ REB in 13 of 14 games this year, including 11+ in 4 games. If he were to finish with 9.4 rpg, it would be the highest rpg tally since Jimmy Foster posted the same numbers in 1983-84.

* More on Wallace! He has blocked 39 shots, knocking down 2.8 bpg. He is on track to break the school record set by Danny Traylor (235, 1971-73). To do it, he would have to average 2.0 bpg in the next 15 SEC games + one SEC Tournament game.

* Dwayne Day, known as a streaky shooter, is streaky good lately. He has led the team in scoring the past two games and has hit double figures in four of the last five games. He also added a career-high 7 AST in the win over Western Carolina while Kelley was sidelined with a knee injury.

* Bryce Sheldon has 2+ 3’s in four games this year, including a career-high six 3’s in the Gamecocks win at Southern California on Nov. 16.

* Want more? How about Evka Baniulis. He has scored 3+ PT in 6 of the last 8 games, including a career-high 8 at Georgia on Wednesday night.

Common USC and UF have three commons opponents thus far with both defeating Jacksonville and both losing to Kansas. UF got the best of Georgia in Gainesville on Jan. 6 (67-51) before the Bulldogs turned around in Athens and defeated USC 80-56 on Jan. 10.

Kelley and Wallace Moving On Up

Tre’ Kelley and Brandon Wallace are working on a number of career milestones this year. The following are some of the categories the two are working on:

Tre’ Kelley

• He has 426 career assists and is No. 7 on the career list. He needs 3 assists to move past No. 6 (Chuck Eidson; 428 assists from 2000-2003). The school record is 543 set by Melvin Watson from 1995-98.

• He is No. 5 with 130 career three-pointers. He needs 10 to move to No. 4, passing Jo Jo English (139, 1989-92). The school record is 264 set by Jamel Bradley fro 1999-2002.

• He is No. 4 with 406 career three-point attempts. He needs nine to move up to No. 3 (415, Larry Davis, 1996-1997). 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 (played in 118 games played; No. 10 is 121 by 3), most games started (86 games started; No. 10 is 101 by 2) and most minutes played (3344 minutes played; No. 10 is 3476 by 1).

Brandon Wallace

• He is currently No. 4 in career blocks with 202 He needs 25 blocks to move past 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 (119 games played; No. 10 is 121 by 3).


USC has held half of its opponents to 59 points or less, including five of the last eight games. In its 10 wins, USC is winning by an average of 9.5 ppg. In its four losses, at UC-Irvine, vs. Clemson, vs. No. 9 KU and at UGA, it lost by an average of 19 ppg.

Turn this around

USC is 2-1 after a loss this season. The Gamecocks were 8-6 following a loss last season, they were 8-3 in 2004-05 and 6-4 in 2003-04.

the RPI

USC’s RPI is No. 68 on the USC’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 82. Florida’s RPI is No. 32 and its SOS is No. 121.

Welcome Gray

Dave Odom announced Dec. 18 the USC Admissions Office had reviewed the application of freshman forward Chad Gray and he had been admitted to USC. He began practice with the team on Tues., Dec. 19 and played two seconds of the Princeton win, grabbing his first career rebound. Gray then went down with turf toe at practice on Dec. 26 and was sidelined until he played a couple minutes in the first half against Georgia.

A lot here

Carolina is 58-18 all-time at the Colonial Center and has compiled a 40-4 record against non-conference opponents. Two non-conference losses were to Clemson (Dec. 4, 2004, 62-62 OT; Dec. 2, 2006, 53-74). The first loss snapped a 20-game home-winning streak against non-conference foes. USC’s other two non-conference losses in the CC were to No. 23 Pittsburgh (Dec. 28, 2005, 58-51) and No. 9 Kansas (Jan. 7, 2007, 54-70)

All Five

In USC’s 80-73 win over Jacksonville on Dec. 29 Bryce Sheldon was the last starter to hit double figures with all five hitting 10+ points. The last time USC had all five starters in double figures: a 90-82 OT win over Alabama in Columbia on Feb. 4, 2004.