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March 12, 2009


South Carolina vs. Mississippi State

Date: Friday, March 13, 2009
Tipoff: 3:15 p.m. ET
Location: Tampa, Fla.
Arena: St. Pete Times Forum
Mississippi State Series: Miss. State leads, 12-8
Television: Raycom
Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Larry Conley (analyst)
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network
Mike Morgan (play-by-play), Casey Manning (analyst)

The second-seeded South Carolina men’s basketball team (21-8) will play Mississippi State (20-12), the third seed from the West, in the second round of play at the 2009 SEC Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., on Friday. Tip time for the contest is set for 3:15 p.m. The contest will be televised on Raycom Sports (FSN South in Columbia area). Mississippi State defeated Georgia 79-60 in the first round on Thursday afternoon. The Gamecocks own a 2-0 record in two previous SEC Tournament meetings against Mississippi State.

Gamecocks In SEC Tournament
South Carolina owns a 16-17 (.485) overall record in SEC Tournament action, including a 2-4 (.333) record in six semifinal appearances. The Gamecocks have reached the Championship game twice – 1998, lost to Kentucky and 2006, loss to eventual national champion Florida. South Carolina owns a 6-5 (.545) record in the last five SEC Tournaments.

Television Information
The contest will be televised by Raycom Sports with Tom Hammond handling play-by-play duties and Larry Conley joining as the color analyst..

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.

Carolina As The No. 2 Seed
South Carolina has earned the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament twice in its 17-year history competing in the event. The Gamecocks were the second seed in the 1998 tournament, earning their second-consecutive season with a bye in the first round of play (won SEC Eastern Division and No. 1 seed in 1997 tournament). South Carolina defeated Florida (second round) and Ole Miss (semifinals) before falling to Kentucky in the championship game in 1998.

Grady Wallace, Carolina SEC Legend
South Carolina great Grady Wallace will be honored as one of the SEC Legends at the 2009 SEC Tournament. Wallace was the first player in Gamecock history to have his jersey number (42) retired. He averaged 28.0 points per game in his Carolina career and led the NCAA in 1957 with 31.3 points per contest. His 54 points scored against Georgia during his senior season rank second all-time in the Gamecock record book. Wallace donned the Garnet and Black from 1955-57.

Downey Nears Steals Mark
South Carolina junior point guard Devan Downey set the SEC single-season steals mark with 103 last season during his sophomore campaign. The Chester, S.C., native has 87 steals to date for the 2008-09 season – an SEC-best 3.0 per contest. If Downey continues to swipe steals at a pace of three per contest, he could once again set the steals mark if South Carolina were to play at least six more games this season. Downey currently ranks fourth in the Gamecock career record book with 190 steals. He needs just five steals to surpass Carolina great Melvin Watson (194 career steals) for third all-time.

Conrad’s Solid Return
Senior guard Branden Conrad suffered a foot injury at practice in mid-December and sat out 19 games prior to his return in the final minutes of the home finale against Tennessee on March 5. Without Brandis Raley-Ross in the lineup against Georgia on Saturday, Conrad stepped back into the role of key reserve for the Gamecocks and played solidly in the backcourt. Though he didn’t attempt a shot, Conrad did collect four rebounds while posting one assist and swiping one steal. In 10 games played this season, Conrad averages 4.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per outing.

SEC Double-Digit Victories
South Carolina reached double-digit victories in league play this season for the first time since the 1998 SEC campaign when the Gamecocks earned the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament with an 11-5 record in conference play. South Carolina has reached double-digit league victories just three times (1997, 15-1; 1998, 11-5; 2009, 10-6) in its 18-year history in the SEC.

Horn At Times Forum
South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn has already had success at the site of the 2009 SEC Tournament – the St. Pete Times Forum. Horn took his Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to the venue for the First and Second Rounds of the 2008 NCAA Tournament last year, and proceeded to upset fifth-seeded Drake in the first round on a 3-pointer as time expired and followed with a convincing victory over 13th-seeded San Diego in the second round to propel WKU to its first Sweet 16 appearance since the 1993 campaign. Horn and Gamecock assistant coach Cypheus Bunton were members of that 1993 Western Kentucky squad.

Series Breakdown
Mississippi State holds a 12-8 advantage in the all-time series against South Carolina, however, the Gamecocks have won three of the last five meetings between the two schools. South Carolina owns a 2-0 record in games played between the two schools in the SEC Tournament, winning both first-round matchups in the 2001 and 2006 seasons.

The Bulldogs won the lone regular-season meeting between the two schools in Starkville in 2009, collecting a 75-70 win. Devan Downey led Carolina with 19 points against the Bulldogs this season.

Mississippi State also won the lone meeting between the two schools last season in Columbia. South Carolina’s last victory in the series occurred in Starkville during the 2007 SEC campaign in a 66-63 decision. Below is a breakdown of the last 10 meetings between the two schools.

Scouting Mississippi State
• Mississippi State enters SEC Tournament play with a 19-12 overall record. The Bulldogs collected a 9-7 record in the SEC West to earn the No. 3 seed.

• The Bulldogs are led by head coach Rick Stansbury, who is in his 11th season in Starkville.

• SEC Defensive Player of the Year Jarvis Varnado leads the Bulldogs with 13.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game. Varnado also leads the NCAA in blocks per game. Varnado has recorded seven double-doubles this season and has led the squad in rebounding 23 times.

• Freshman point guard Dee Bost earned a spot on the Coaches SEC All-Freshman team for his solid play this season. He provides 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Bost was awarded the SEC Freshman of the Week award twice during the regular season, while he tallied 18 double figure scoring efforts and tallied one double-double.

• Sophomore guard Ravern Johnson rates second on the team with 12.5 points per outing, while also collecting 3.2 rebounds and adding 1.2 assists per game. Johnson led the Bulldogs with 20 points against South Carolina in mid-February.

• Keep an eye on sophomore guard Phil Turner. Turner tallied 16 points and collected 14 rebounds against the Gamecocks in the first matchup between the two schools.