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Feb. 24, 2009

South Carolina vs. Kentucky | 7 p.m. ET
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South Carolina vs. Kentucky

Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tipoff: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Series: Kentucky leads, 41-8
Series Trend: South Carolina has won one

Television: Raycom Sports
Dave Baker (play-by-play), Barry Booker (analyst)
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network
Mike Morgan (play-by-play), Casey Manning (analyst)

Game Preview
South Carolina (19-6, 8-4 SEC) hosts the Kentucky Wildcats (19-8, 8-4 SEC) in a battle for the lead in the SEC East on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks won the first meeting between the two schools in late January on a Devan Downey turnaround jumper with just seconds remaining on the clock to clinch the 78-77 win. The contest against the Wildcats marks the second for South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn – a Lexington native. Star watch falls on Downey, who needs just eight points to reach 1,500 for his total career.

Series Information
Kentucky owns a commanding 41-8 lead in the all-time series with the Gamecocks. Wednesday’s meeting marks the 50th all-time between the two schools.

Television Information
The contest will be televised by Raycom Sports with Dave Baker handling play-by-play duties and Barry Booker joining as the color analyst. The contest against Kentucky marks the 20th of 22 regular-season televised games for South Carolina.

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.

Scouting Kentucky
• Kentucky enters Wednesday’s contest with a 19-8 overall record, including an 8-4 mark in league play. The Wildcats sit in a three-way tie with Florida and South Carolina atop the SEC East standings. (Florida plays LSU on Tuesday evening).

• Junior forward Jodie Meeks paces the SEC with 25.4 points per game, including 26.6 per game in league games. Meeks, who recently reached 1,000 points in his career, has seven 30-point efforts this season, including his career best of 54 in a Wildcat victory at Thompson-Boling Arena against Tennessee.

• Sophomore big man Patrick Patterson provides 17.9 points per game and a team best 9.0 rebounds (fourth in the SEC). Patterson has led the Wildcats in rebounding 11 times this season and has collected a team high 10 double-doubles (tied for first in the league) during his sophomore campaign. Patterson has also tallied 47 blocked shots on the year.

• Junior Perry Stevenson rates behind Patterson with 7.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Stevenson ranks among the top-10 all-time shot blockers in UK history with 130 career blocks. Stevenson enters the game with nine double-figure scoring games and five double-digit rebounding efforts this season.

Scouting South Carolina
• South Carolina owns a 19-6 overall record, including an 8-4 mark in SEC play. The Gamecocks join Kentucky and Florida in a three-way tie for first place in the SEC East. (Florida plays LSU on Tuesday evening).

• South Carolina made history when it defeated Kentucky at Rupp Arena in Lexington earlier this season. The Gamecock win marked just the second for South Carolina against UK in Lexington.

• All-SEC and SEC Player of the Year candidate Devan Downey leads a pack of four Gamecocks who average double digits entering Wednesday’s contest against Kentucky. Downey averages 20.0 points per game, while also pacing the squad with 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals per outing. Downey has tallied double digits in 24 of South Carolina’s 25 games this season, including 12 20-point and two 30-point performances.

• Senior guard Zam Fredrick looks for a breakout performance against the Wildcats. Fredrick provides 15.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Fredrick shot very well against Kentucky at Rupp Arena in late January, hitting 6-of-10 attempts in just the first half for a team best 16 points entering the halftime break.

• Sophomore forward Mike Holmes provides 11.2 points and a team best 7.8 rebounds per contest. Holmes knocked down 15 points while collecting eight rebounds in the Gamecock win over UK in late January. Holmes has led or shared the team lead in rebounding 11 times this season, while he has collected a team-best five double-doubles.

Historic Victory At Rupp
Prior to South Carolina’s win over then-No. 24 Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Jan. 31, the Gamecocks had won just ONCE at Rupp Arena in 22 tries. The lone Carolina win in Lexington came during the 1997 campaign. The Gamecock win on the Wildcat homecourt held true historical meaning:
• It marked Kentucky’s first SEC loss on its home court since falling to then-No. 1 Florida during the 2007 season, a span of 12 home league contests.
• It marked Gamecock head coach Darrin Horn’s first win in his hometown as the head coach at South Carolina.
• The win snapped a four-game UK win streak in the series between the two schools.
• It was the third win for the Gamecocks over a ranked opponnent this season.

SEC Streaks – Homestyle
South Carolina currently owns a six-game HOME SEC win streak (Jan. 10, Auburn, 68-56; Jan. 21, Florida, 70-69; Jan. 24, Ole Miss, 82-71; Jan. 28, Vanderbilt, 86-76, Feb. 7, Georgia, 79-68), its first since the 1998 campaign when the Gamecocks won their first seven league games at home (Jan. 7, Vanderbilt, 71-71; Jan. 10, LSU, 70-53; Jan. 21, Tennessee, 81-51; Jan. 28, Florida, 74-72; Feb. 11, Alabama, 74-63; Feb. 14, Mississippi State, 74-63; Feb. 24, Georgia, 78-76). A 69-57 loss to Kentucky halted the streak.

Downey For SEC Player Of The Year
One of the top game changers and play makers in the league, Gamecock junior point guard Devan Downey is a solid candidate for SEC Player of the Year honors. Below are a few notes to consider when voting for postseason awards:
• Downey has led or shared the team lead in scoring nine times in SEC play, including five 20-point performances, including one 30-point performance against Florida.
• He has tallied at least four assists eight times, including matching his season high of eight assists in the victory over Georgia on Feb. 7.
• Downey has collected at least three steals eight times, including six to help lead the Gamecocks to a road victory at Alabama on Feb. 14.
• In league games, Downey ranks among conference leaders in points (5th, 19.5), assists (5th, 4.2) and steals (1st, 2.9).
• When given the chance, Downey has been clutch in Gamecock victories down the stretch. Downey hit the game winner at Kentucky, while more recently he hit 4-of-4 from the charity stripe in overtime to help the Gamecocks clinch an 82-78 win over Arkansas.