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Dec. 4, 2008

South Carolina vs. Furman | 6 p.m.
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South Carolina vs. Furman

Date: Friday, December 5, 2008
Tipoff: 6 p.m.
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Series: South Carolina leads, 70-52
Television: None
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network
Mike Morgan (play-by-play), Casey Manning (analyst)
Tickets: Call 803-777-4274 or online at (Tickets for the women’s game will go on sale at 7 p.m.)

Game Preview
South Carolina (5-1) returns to Colonial Life Arena following a short two-game road stint that saw the Gamecocks go 1-1 with an overtime loss to the College of Charleston, followed by an impressive 26-point victory over Princeton. Friday’s contest will be the first part of a doubleheader of Gamecock basketball, as first-year head women’s coach Dawn Staley leads her squad against High Point at 8 p.m. The matchup will be the first for South Carolina head men’s basketball coach Darrin Horn against Furman (1-5), as well as the first for Paladin head coach Jeff Jackson against the Gamecocks.

South Carolina rides the standout play of junior point guard Devan Downey, who leads the squad with 19.7 points and 5.0 assists per game, while sophomore forward Mike Holmes paces Carolina with 9.7 rebounds per contest. Furman is led by sophomore guard Jordan Miller, who averages 14.7 points per contest, while he also averages a team-best 1.2 steals. Miller is the Paladins’ top threat from beyond the arc, hitting 9-of-18 attempts, ranking tied for third among Southern Conference opponents.

Radio Broadcast Information
The game will be broadcast on the ISP Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan on the call with play-by-play and Casey Manning handling color analyst duties. The Gamecock Radio Network reaches throughout the state of South Carolina.

Series Information – Furman
South Carolina owns a 70-52 upperhand in the all-time series versus Furman. The two intrastate rivals first faced each other on the court during Carolina’s first official season of basketball during 1908-09, Furman won that contest 21-19. The most recent meeting between the two schools came in December 1999, when South Carolina collected a 75-68 win on its home court. The Gamecocks last lost to the Paladins in a 53-81 decision at Furman on Feb. 20, 1980. South Carolina has won the last 10 meetings between the two schools.

Scouting Furman
After collecting a 67-51 victory over Division III Emory in its season opener, Furman has struggled to find the win column, dropping five straights contests to enter Friday’s game with a 1-5 overall record. Furman most recently dropped its Southern Conference opener to Appalachian State on Wednesday, 60-65, despite 17 points from sophomore guard Jordan Miller. Friday’s road contest in Columbia marks the fifth road game for the Paladins.

Furman’s offense has struggled to find any type of rhythm during the first month of the season. The team manages just 63.3 points per outing, nearly 10 points less than its opponents. The Paladins’ greatest loss margin this season came in a 61-93 loss to eighth-ranked Notre Dame last Sunday.

Miller leads the squad averaging 14.7 points per game, while senior forward Alex Opacic paces Furman underneath the basket, collecting 7.2 rebounds.

Defensively Furman forces 12.0 turnovers per contest, while swiping a meager 4.0 steals per game. South Carolina holds an edge over the Paladins in nearly every major statistical category entering Friday’s matchup.

Furman’s keys to the game will be its offensive performance and taking care of the basketball. Carolina averages nearly 20 points more per game than the Paladins, while the Gamecocks also average 11.5 steals per contest against 14.7 Paladin turnovers.

Scouting South Carolina
South Carolina rebounded from a disappointing overtime loss to the College of Charleston last Friday with a 84-58 road victory over Princeton at Jadwin Gym on Tuesday. The Gamecocks shot 54.2 percent from the field, a season high, while the defense combined for three blocks and 18 steals, led by junior point guard Devan Downey who tied a career high with seven steals on the defensive end.

Carolina’s 5-1 start is its best six-game record since starting the 2005-06 campaign with the same mark. Head coach Darrin Horn’s best six-game start as a college head coach was a 6-0 start during the 2004-05 season, his second season as head coach at Western Kentucky.

Downey is playing like the All-SEC performer he is. He leads the team with 19.7 points per game, has led the team in points the last three games (Gardner-Webb, 25; College of Charleston, 22; Princeton, 22), and, following his season-high seven-steal effort against Princeton, Downey is once again atop the SEC in steals per game with 3.2 (19 total). His effort has propelled the Gamecocks to an SEC-best 11.5 steals per contest and the second-highest scoring offense in the league at 83.2 points per game.

Behind the 3-point efforts of senior guard Zam Fredrick (12-28, .429) and junior forward Evka Baniulis (14-23, .609) South Carolina leads the SEC with an overall .413 3-point field goal percentage through the first six games of the season. Fredrick rebounded from a tough outing in the loss at the College of Charleston to pour in 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field against Princeton. Baniulis continues to provide solid bench production for Carolina. He tallied a season-high 15 points in the victory over Princeton, shooting 6-of-7 from the field. The duo rank as two of Carolina’s four averaging double-digit figures entering Friday’s game against Furman.

Sophomore forward Mike Holmes may have collected a season-low five rebounds against Princeton, but his 13-point effort on the offensive end was solid. Holmes leads the SEC in offensive rebounds (4.7/game) and ranks third in total boards (9.7/game).

Carolina’s keys to the game against Furman will be taking care of the basketball and once again its rebounding effort. Despite the victory at Princeton, the Tigers (30) were just two rebounds behind the Gamecocks (32) on the glass. Carolina committed a season-high 19 turnovers against the College of Charleston last Friday, and were slightly better against Princeton, committing 16.