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Nov. 6, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina men’s basketball team kicks off its 2008-09 season on Friday, hosting Kentucky Wesleyan in exhibition play at Colonial Life Arena at 7 p.m. The contest marks the first time Gamecock head coach Darrin Horn will lead his South Carolina squad at Colonial Life Arena. There will be no charge for admission to the contest, however, there will be a charge for parking due to other events in the area. The game marks the first for Carolina this fall, while Kentucky Wesleyan is undefeated in two exhibition outings. The meeting marks the third in the all-time history between the two schools and the first since an 82-74 Panther victory in December of 1963.

Horn named his five starters for the match in a formal media gathering late Thursday afternoon. Preseason All-SEC performers Dominique Archie and Devan Downey will be joined by senior guard Zam Fredrick, junior guard Brandis Raley-Ross and junior forward Evaldas Baniulis for the tip against the Panthers. The five combined for 75 percent of South Carolina’s offense last season, including a 40 percent clip from three-point range.

A First-Team All-SEC pick last season, Downey recorded 18.4 points, 5.4 assists and an SEC record-setting 3.2 steals per contest. He garnered numerous preseason accolades and will once again direct the offense for Carolina this season. Archie, who has started all 62 games of his Gamecock career, posted 10.6 points and 5.7 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per contest last season. He scored in double-digits 19 times, including a season-high 20 points against both Southern California and Ole Miss.

Fredrick contributed 14.8 points, 3.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds last season. He dished four or more assists 13 times and recorded a career-high with 28 points at Clemson in early December. Baniulis recorded 5.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 19 minutes per contest a year ago. An ace from three-point range, 42 of his 52 made field goals last year were from beyond the arc. Rounding out the starting five, Raley-Ross contributed six points per contest last season, including a career-high 20 against Campbell in non-conference play.

Horn begins his tenure at the helm of the Gamecock program after five highly-successful seasons at Western Kentucky. He enters his sixth season as a head coach with an overall 111-48 (.698) record. Horn collected a 2-0 record against Kentucky Wesleyan during his tenure as head coach at cross-state rival WKU. The Hilltoppers posted a 74-67 win during the 2006-07 campaign capped with an 88-67 victory last season.

Kentucky Wesleyan head coach Todd Lee enters his fourth season at the helm of the Panther program. He owns a 44-41 record at KWC and is the reigning Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year after producing his best record with the Panthers last season at 24-8. The squad is ranked No. 22 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Preseason Poll.

KWC defeated Georgetown College (Ky.), 85-72, and Pikeville, 96-52, in exhibition games this season. Junior forward Maros Zuffa tallied 21.5 points per game in two exhibition starts this fall, while senior guard Desmond Stephens contributed 14.5 points and 7.5 assists.

Following Friday’s exhibition South Carolina begins preparations for its 2008-09 regular season opener against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.