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Nov. 10, 2011

November 10, 2011
Coach Horn

The South Carolina men’s basketball team will host Western Carolina in the season opener for both schools on Friday at Colonial Life Arena. The non-conference matchup is set to begin at 7 p.m. and will be televised on SportSouth.

Date: Friday, November 11, 2011
Tipoff: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena
Series: South Carolina leads 7-0
Television: SportSouth (check local listings)
Talent: Bob Rathbun (pxp), Eddie Fogler (analyst)
Radio: Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst)
Click HERE for a listing of the Gamecock Sports Network radio affiliates
Live Stats:

Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

Carolina Quick Hits
– South Carolina is in its 104th season of basketball.
– The Gamecocks are led by fourth-year head coach Darrin Horn.
– South Carolina is set to play 19 contests at Colonial Life Arena this season.
– Behind freshman forward Anthony Gill’s 14-point performance, the Gamecocks earned a 69-59 victory over D-II powerhouse Kentucky Wesleyan in the lone exhibition of the season last Friday. Senior forward Malik Cooke chipped in 11 points and sophomore forward RJ Slawson added 10, while collecting a team-best nine rebounds.
– Redshirt-senior forward Malik Cooke enters the season as South Carolina’s top returning scorer with 9.4 points per game last season. Sophomore guard Bruce Ellington led the team with 12.8 points per game, but Ellington will not return to the basketball squad until the conclusion of the Gamecock football season, during which he is playing as a wide receiver and kick returner among other positions on the field.
– Carolina owns a 74-29 (.718) all-time record in season openers, including a perfect 10-0 record in the last 10 seasons. The last season-opening loss for the Gamecocks came against the Ohio Valley’s Tennessee Tech during the 2000-01 season, as the Golden Eagles edged the Gamecocks, 73-67. The Gamecocks earned an 94-79 win over Elon in the 2010-11 season opener.
– Darrin Horn is 7-1 all-time in season openers. Horn’s only loss in a season opener came coincidentally against an SEC school, as Auburn got the best of Western Kentucky in 2003.
– South Carolina owns a 282-128 (.687) all-time record against current schools in the Southern Conference. Carolina’s last loss to a SoCon opponent came in a 91-75 decision at Furman on Dec. 22, 2010. The Gamecocks’ 64-53 win over Wofford (Dec. 11, 2010) marks their last win over an opponent from the league.
– Following Friday’s opener versus Western Carolina, the Gamecocks continue action against Southern Conference schools when they travel to Elon for a 7 p.m. matchup next Tuesday. The Gamecocks earned a 94-79 victory over the Phoenix in the 2010-11 season opener at Colonial Life Arena.

Gamecocks In Exhibition Play
South Carolina played 10 of its 11 elligible players in a 69-59 win over Kentucky Wesleyan last Thursday in exhibition play. Only sophomore guard Bruce Ellington, who will return to the hoops team following the Gamecock football season, didn’t play. In his first action on the court for Carolina, freshman forward Anthony Gill posted a game-high 14 points. Junior forward/guard Lakeem Jackson took the reigns as the point guard for the opening tip. He dished six assists, tallied four points and collected five rebounds. Also standing out in the contest was sophomore forward Damontre Harris with five blocks, and sophomore forward RJ Slawson with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

By The Numbers
63.3% – Carolina’s returning scoring for last season.
69.0% – The Gamecocks’ returning rebounding, including Malik Cooke with 6.4 per game. The most significant loss in this category from last season was senior forward Sam Muldrow’s team-leading 7.3 rebounds per contest.
14 – South Carolina dished 14 assists on 23 made baskets in its exhibition win over Kentucky Wesleyan. South Carolina’s season high for assists in a game was 23 last season in the season-opening win over Elon.
20 – South Carolina scored 20 points off of turnovers in the exhibition vs. KWC last week.
52.6% – The Gamecocks hit 10-of-19 attempts from 3-point range vs. KWC on Nov. 3. Freshman shooting guard Damien Leonard led the squad with a 3-of-9 showing from beyond the arc.

Scouting Western Carolina
Western Carolina was picked to finish third in the SoCon-North Division by both the media and coaches … Head Coach Larry Hunter aims for the 600th victory of his career against South Carolina on Friday … WCU will play seven of its first eight regular-season contests on the road in 2011-12 … WCU shared the SoCon North Division title last season with a 12-6 record in league games … The Catamounts were the No. 1 seed in last year’s SoCon Tournament … R-sophomore guard Trey Sumler (11.5) is the top returning scorer, and R-senior Harouna Mutombo is the top returning rebounder (4.6).

Non-Conference Schedule
Contests against at least five teams that competed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament highlight the 2011-12 South Carolina men’s basketball non-conference schedule. South Carolina will host 11 non-conference contests at Colonial Life Arena, including one exhibition, the first two rounds of the Las Vegas Invitational, Providence in the Big East/SEC Challenge and Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State. The Gamecocks will face at least six teams that compiled 18 or more wins last season, including North Carolina, Southern California or UNLV, Clemson, Ohio State and Wofford, which all advanced to the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina is slated to face five BCS schools during the coming non-conference portion of the schedule.

Gamecocks To Compete In Las Vegas Invitational
South Carolina will compete in its first regular season tournament since the 2009-10 season this fall when it participates in the Las Vegas Invitational. The Gamecocks will host Tennessee State and Mississippi Valley State in Columbia before traveling to Las Vegas to play North Carolina and either Southern California or UNLV. The meeting between the Gamecocks and Tar Heels marks the first between the two former Southern and Atlantic Coast Conference rivals since the 1996-97 campaign.

Garnet And Black Welcome Three Newcomers
South Carolina signed freshmen Anthony Gill (Fr. – F – 6-8 – 235 – Charlotte, N.C. – Charlotte Christian School) and Damien Leonard (Fr. – G – 6-4 – 192 – Greenville, S.C. – J.L. Mann) and junior college transfer Brenton Williams (So. – G – 5-11 – 172 – Kissimmee, Fla. – Osceola/Santa Fe College) to join the squad for the 2011-12 season.

2012 SEC Tournament
The 2012 SEC Tournament returns to New Orleans, La., next spring, marking the third time the city has hosted the event. It will be the first time the tournament will be held at the New Orleans Arena. The SEC Basketball Tournament semifinals and championship game will be televised nationally on ABC, while the first two rounds of the event will be televised on the SEC Network.

2011 Big East/SEC Challenge
The University of South Carolina men’s basketball team will host Providence in the Big East/SEC Challenge on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. The Gamecocks and Friars have met seven previous times with Providence holding a 4-3 edge in the series. Every game of the series has been played in the month of December. South Carolina won the most recent matchup between the two schools, a 68-67 road win on Dec. 6, 2007.

SEC Divisional Play
Starting with the 2011-12 season, this year marks the first time there will not be an East/West Division champion since the conference split into two divisions in 1992. The regular season standings will be listed from one through 12. This season the schedule will still reflect the divisions of years past, as South Carolina will still play the five schools who were also in the East – Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt – twice, while playing the former West schools – Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State – once during the regular season.

Up Next For South Carolina
South Carolina will travel to Elon for a 7 p.m. matchup on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The contest will be televised on SportSouth.