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Oct. 16, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The official start of the 2009-10 college basketball season began Friday evening with teams across the country preparing for the start of the upcoming season. South Carolina head basketball coach Darrin Horn led his team through an energy filled practice at Colonial Life Arena. Carolina will train through three weeks of practice prior to hosting Kentucky Wesleyan in its lone exhibition contest of the season on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.

Click HERE for a photo gallery from the first day of practice.

Horn Enters Second Season At Carolina
South Carolina head basketball coach Darrin Horn enters his second season at the helm of the Gamecock program for the 2009-10 season. Horn led Carolina to one of the most celebrated seasons during its 18-year participation in the Southeastern Conference during the 2008-09 campaign, as the squad captured the 2009 SEC Eastern Division Co-Championship and won double-digit league games for the first time since the 1998 campign.

Non-Conference Schedule
Contests against six teams that participated in postseason play, including three that competed in the NCAA Tournament, highlight the 2009-10 South Carolina men’s basketball non-conference schedule. The slate features contests against at least seven teams that won 18 or more games last season. Three of those teams – Clemson, Boston College and Western Kentucky – competed in the NCAA Tournament last March. South Carolina has the opportunity to play five BCS schools, compared to playing just two last season.

Gamecocks To Compete In Second Annual Charleston Classic
South Carolina will stay in its home state to compete in the second annual Charleston Classic this November. The Classic, a bracket-format tournament, will feature 12 games over the course of four days, Nov. 19-22. Each team will compete in one game per day, with the two teams that remain undefeated facing off in a championship contest on Sunday, Nov. 22. The Gamecocks join a highly-competitive field at the event, which features (2008-09 record) La Salle (18-13), South Florida (9-22), Tulane (14-17), Miami (Fla.) (19-13), UNC-Wilmington (7-25), Davidson (27-8) and Penn State (27-11). South Carolina, Davidson, Miami and Penn State each made an appearance in the Postseason NIT last March. Carolina will face La Salle in the tournament’s opening round.

Carolina Set For Unprecedented National TV Coverage
With the Southeastern Conference’s historic television deals with CBS and ESPN that begin this season, the Gamecocks will be featured in at least 28 live television broadcasts during the upcoming regular season. Each of South Carolina’s conference contests will be televised, with seven games to be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, five on the SEC Network, three on CSS and one on FSN. The Gamecocks will host eight conference matchups, including home games versus NCAA Tournament participants LSU, Mississippi State and Tennessee, and additional home dates against Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Record Watch
Several Gamecocks currently rank in the career record chart in various categories. Senior guard Devan Downey needs just 81 steals to surpass Chuck Eidson (272) for the most all time, while senior forward Dominique Archie will climb the career blocks chart during the 2009-10 campaign, as he is currently tied for 10th all time with 86 career blocks. Keep an eye on senior forward Evka Baniulis, who currently ranks second in 3-point career percentage (.430), and senior guard Brandis Raley-Ross who is sixth on the chart with a .377 career 3-point percentage.

Garnet And Black Welcome Five Newcomers
South Carolina signed freshmen Ramon Galloway, Lakeem Jackson and Stephen Spinella, while also adding junior college transfer Johndre Jefferson and walk-on Malik Cooke to its 2009-10 roster. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Cooke will not be eligible to play, however Horn and his staff have high expectations for the rest of the bunch.

Downey Among Athlon Sports All-Americans For 2009-10
South Carolina senior point guard Devan Downey has been listed as one of Athlon Sports’ First-Team All-Americans for the upcoming 2009-10 season in the publication’s annual preseason edition. Joining Downey on the projected First-Team All-American squad is Kansas center Cole Aldrich, Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody, Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson and Duke forward Kyle Singler. Downey was also listed as the projected 2009-10 SEC Player of the Year and a First Team All-SEC pick, while senior forward Dominique Archie was projected as an All-SEC second-team selection in the preseason edition.

Preseason Rankings
South Carolina made an appearance in several preseason top-25 lists during the summer months. The Gamecocks were ranked No. 23 in ESPN’s Andy Katz’s June top 25 list, while FoxSport’ senior writer Jeff Goodman also listed South Carolina as one of his “Teams To Watch.”

2010 SEC Tournament
The 2010 Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament returns to the Sommet Center in Nashville. It will be the third time that the arena has served as the host of the SEC Tournament, having also hosted in 2001 and 2006. The Sommet Center, which also is the home of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, opened in December 1996 and has hosted more than 12 million guests.

Horn Among NCAA’s Best
South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn ranks as one of the NCAA’s elite coaches. Entering the 2009-10 campaign, Horn ranks as the No. 22 winningest coach (by percentage) in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

Gamecocks Return Trio Of All-SEC Performers
The Gamecocks return three All-SEC performers from last season in Devan Downey (First Team, coaches/AP), Dominique Archie (Second Team, coaches/Honorable Mention, AP) and Brandis Raley-Ross (SEC Sixth Man of the Year, coaches) to the court this season. The trio combined for nearly 36.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 steals per game last year for Carolina.

Archie Aims For 1,000th Career Point, Downey Looks To Climb List
South Carolina senior forward Dominique Archie needs just 59 points to become the 41st member of the Gamecocks’ 1,000 point club. Classmate Devan Downey reached the mark last season, and looks to climb the list during his senior campaign. Downey currently ranks 27th on the all-time scoring list with 1,202 career points at South Carolina.