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Jan. 18, 2007

South Carolina, 10-6 and 0-3 in the SEC, travels to Tennessee on Sat., Jan. 20 for a 6 pm contest with the Volunteers. The Vols, 13-5 and 1-2 in the SEC, have lost three straight. Carolina has dropped four straight, including three to top 25 teams, after piecing together a six-game winning streak. USC is 3-2 on the road this season. UT leads the series 25-22, including a 17-7 record in Knoxville.

USC returns home to host Arkansas Wed., Jan. 24 at 7:30 pm. Good seats remain for the non-televised game.

Both USC and UT lost their last time out in the SEC with the Gamecocks falling 87-49 to No. 25 Kentucky on Tuesday night and the Vols falling 83-80 at Auburn the next night. It was Auburn’s first win over a ranked team in 16 tries.

USC started last season in the SEC with an 0-3 mark before going up and snatching a 66-64 OT win at Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks ended up the year at 6-10 in the SEC, including sweeping the season series with Florida.

The USC-UT game will be shown on FSN with Dave Neal and Eddie Fogler making the call. The game, carried on Sirius channel No. 152, 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

Both schools have two starters in double figures (UT: Lofton, 22.5 and Smith, 14.2) and (USC: Kelley, 16.5 and Wallace, 11.0). Wallace paces USC with 8.8 boards per game and 2.8 bpg, while Duke Crews (5.9 rpg) and Wayne Chism (5.3 rpg) lead the Vols on the boards.

UT won the season series in 2006 (76-69 in Columbia on 1/8/06 and 81-65 in Knoxville on 1/28/06), but USC got the best of the Vols in the SEC Tournament quarter-finals, coming away with a 79-61 victory behind Tre’ Kelley’s 25 points.


Is there something in the water in 2007? Every team USC has played in the new year has had a considerable winning/losing streak when it tangles with South Carolina. See below.

Opponent (date) Streak entering USC game

Western Carolina (Jan. 3) lost 4 straight

Kansas (Jan. 7) won 6 straight

Georgia (Jan. 10) lost 4 straight

Florida (Jan. 13) won 8 straight

Kentucky (Jan. 16) won 10 straight – longest winning streak in the SEC

Tennessee (Jan. 20) lost 3 straight

USC has its own four-game losing streak on the books. The Gamecocks went on a similar streak in 2005-06 when they lost to Kentucky, at Georgia, Vanderbilt and LSU. After that stretch, the Gamecocks went on to win nine of their final 10 games to win the NIT Championship. The only loss in that 10 game stretch was to Florida in the SEC Tournament Championship game by two points (49-47). That Gators went on to win the NCAA title in 2006.

Trio of Youngsters

For the Kentucky game on Tueesday, USC’s line-up of Tre’ Kelley, Brandon Wallace, Evka Baniulis, Brandis Raley-Ross and Dominique Archie was the fifth different line-up USC has used this season and third different line-up in a row. That line-up included three freshmen. The last time USC started three freshmen in a game was seven years ago. On March 11, 2000 USC lost 77-72 in OT to Auburn in the SEC Tournament – the same line-up they used the last five games of the 2000 season and it included freshmen Chuck Eidson, Marius Petravicius and Tony Kitchings.

Coaches Speak

Said Dave Odom of starting the younger players on Thursday’s SEC teleconference: “We have to expect their best effort every night. We are going to be patient, but demanding so they will improve because we have to get better. There is going to be a period of growth (on starting three freshmen). It’s a difficult walk, but one we have to make.”

Said UT’s Bruce Pearl on the upcoming game against South Carolina on the same SEC teleconference: “South Carolina is struggling right now. We’ve lost three, they’ve lost four. Both teams are gonna try to get on track. They’re a young team like us. South Carolina/Tennessee probably lost as many to graduation as anybody. Tré Kelly is obviously demonstrating that he’s one of the better guards in the conference. They’re patient and they shoot the basketball. They do a lot of things to try to confuse the opponent.”

Pitching a perfect game at the line

Tre’ Kelley is No. 3 in scoring in the SEC at 16.5 ppg and No. 5 in SEC games at 17.3 ppg. Kelley leads the SEC in free throw percentage, pitching a perfect game with an 8 of 8 start in SEC play. He is third in the SEC playing 34.7 mpg.

Brandon Wallace leads the SEC in minutes played putting in 37.3 mpg. Wallace is second with 2.7 bpg in the SEC and No. 3 overall with 2.8 bpg. In overall games he is fourth with 8.8 rpg; and he is eighth in offensive rebounds (2.6 rpg) and fifth in defensive rebounds (6.3 rpg).


On Thursday, USC’s RPI was No. 75 on the USC’s strength of schedule was ranked No. 41. Tennessee’s RPI was No. 24 and its SOS was No. 12.

Hanging our hats

* 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 16.5 ppg. In the UK loss Kelley scored in double figures for the 13th time this year and the 56th time in his career. He has 4.5 apg and has 4+ AST in 10 of 15 games this year.

* Kelley has attempted 20 or more shots in four games this season. (Southern Cal, Baylor, Princeton, Florida) Entering this season, Kelley took 20 or more shots in only one game. (March 21, 2006 NIT Game vs. Florida State).

* Kelley also leads the team with 68 assists on the season, averaging 4.5 apg. He is looking to become the fourth Gamecock to ever lead the team in assists in three consecutive seasons (Jack Gilloon, Michael Foster, Melvin Watson). He led the SEC in assists last season.

* Brandon Wallace is averaging 8.8 rebounds per game, snaring 8+ REB in 13 of 16 games this year, including 11+ in 4 games.

* Wallace is looking to lead the team in blocks for the third consecutive season. He would become the fifth Gamecock to accomplish that. (Alex English, Mike Brittain, Jeff Roulston, Tony Kitchings).

* He has blocked 44 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 about 2.0 bpg in the next 13 SEC games + one SEC Tournament game.

* Bryce Sheldon has 2+ 3’s in five 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 8 of the last 10 games, including a career-high 8 at Georgia and vs. Kentucky. He played a career-high 34 MIN in the loss to No. 25 Kentucky, yanking in a career-high 6 REB. Nothing in Common USC and UT have no common opponents this season thus far.

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.

Gray played a career-high 14 MIN in the loss to No. 25 UK and snared a career-high 5 REB as well. He scored his first career points from the free throw line – hitting 3 of 6 vs. UK.