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Nov. 28, 2012

November 28, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina travels to face St. John’s on Thursday in the 2012 SEC/BIG EAST Challenge. The contest will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast live on the radio in Columbia on 107.5 The Game and on The meeting marks the fourth all-time between the Gamecocks and Red Storm, and the first since the 1975 campaign. The game will be the first between Carolina head coach Frank Martin and SJU’s Steve Lavin. Below are game notes and details.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Queens, N.Y.
Arena: Carnesecca Arena (5,602)
Series: St. John’s leads, 3-0
Last Meeting: St. John’s win, 71-59, Dec. 27, 1975, New York City, ECAC Holiday Festival Tournament
Television: ESPNU
Talent: Mike Crispino (pxp), Kara Lawson (analyst)
Radio: Gamecock IMG Radio Network
Sirius: 128; XM: 192
Talent: Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst)
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Carolina Quick Hits
– South Carolina is in its 105th season of basketball.
– The Gamecocks are led by first-year head coach Frank Martin. His associate head coach is Brad Underwood and his assistant coaches are Matt Figger and Lamont Evans. Andy Assaley is the director of basketball operations.
– Thursday’s contest at St. John’s will be the first true away contest for Carolina this season. In his career as a head coach, Frank Martin owns a 26-21 (.553) record in away games.
– South Carolina posted a 74-62 victory over Arkansas Little-Rock on Sunday to claim the 2012 Hoops For Hope Classic tournament title in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Senior guard Lakeem Jackson was named to the All-Tournament Team and senior guard LaShay Page was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
– Jackson collected his second double-double of the season vs. UALR, scoring 10 points and collecting a career-high 15 rebounds. It was the most rebounds in a contest for Jackson since he collected 14 vs. Alabama on March 11, 2010.
– Page led the Gamecocks with 19.0 points per game in two contests in Puerto Vallarta, including a team high 22 vs. Missouri State. Page paces Carolina with 15.5 points per game entering Thursday’s contest vs. St. John’s.
– Junior guard Brian Richardson scored 14 points vs. Missouri State, including four 3s, just one shy of matching his career high. Richardson played a career-high 38 minutes in the contest.
– Junior guard Eric Smith dished a season-best six assists vs. Missouri State and added five vs. UALR. He leads the Gamecocks with 3.2 assists per game.
– Carrera, the Nov. 12 SEC Freshman of the Week, did not play vs. Morgan State, Rider or Elon due to a concussion suffered in practice on Wednesday, Nov. 14. He returned to score 18 points vs. Missouri State, including the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation to send the contest into overtime.
– South Carolina’s 77.4 percent from the free throw line leads the SEC and ranks 16th in the nation. The Gamecocks hit 22-of-28 attempts vs. Missouri State, including 10-of-12 in overtime.
– In two overtime games this season, Carolina has hit an impressive 22-of-24 (91.7%) attempts from the free throw line during OT.
– Senior forward Lakeem Jackson ranks third in the SEC and 13th in the nation in field goal percentage with a mark of 67.4 (31-46).
– The Gamecocks are a stellar 34-of-47 (78.7%) from the free throw line this season with under five minutes remaining in games (including overtime).
– Freshman forward Michael Carrera posted the first double-double by a Gamecock freshman since the 2008 campaign vs. Milwaukee with 17 points and a game-best 15 rebounds.
– South Carolina is 79-32 (.711) all-time in the month of November.
– Carolina owns a 53-67 all-time record against current schools in the BIG EAST. The last Carolina win vs. a member of the league came in a 69-66 decision vs. South Florida on Nov. 20, 2009, competing at the Charleston Classic, while the last loss to an opponent from the conference came last season in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge with a 76-67 loss to Providence.

Scouting St. John’s
St. John’s enters Thursday contest with a 4-2 overall record, including a perfect 3-0 mark in home contests. The Red Storm has not played since a 79-68 win vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 24 in Queens. The team is led by sophomore guard D’Angelo Harris with 21.2 points per game, while sophomore guard Phil Greene IV (13.8) and freshman forward JaKarr Sampson (12.3) contribute double-digits as well. Sampson was named the BIG EAST’s Rookie of the Week on Monday, while Harrison picked up his second-straight weekly Honor Roll mention following Red Storm wins over Holy Cross and FGCU. Freshman forward Chris Obekpa ranks third in the country with 4.5 blocks per game entering Thursday’s contest, while as a team the Red Storm ranks second nationally with 8.3 blocks per game. St. John’s is led by Steve Lavin in his third season.

By The Numbers
33.5 – In two games at the Hoops For Hope Classic in Mexico, the Gamecock bench provided 33.5 points per game. Versus Missouri State, freshman forward Michael Carrera was the high bench scorer with 18 points and junior guard Brian Richardson added 14. Freshman forward Mindaugas Kacinas led the Gamecocks vs. UALR with 13 points. In six games in 2012, four different players have led Carolina in scoring off the bench.
56.2% – The Gamecocks shot a stellar 56.2 percent (50-89) combined vs. Missouri State and UALR, while the Bears and Trojans combined to hit just 39.7 percent (46-116) from the field.
+11.2 – The Gamecocks ranks second in the SEC and 16th in the nation in rebounding margin with a plus-11.2 margin over their opponents.
15 – Lakeem Jackson’s 15 rebounds vs. UALR rank him tied with three others – including teammate Michael Carrera – for the most rebounds by an individual player in a single game this season in the SEC. Carrera earned 15 boards in the season opener vs. Milwaukee.
48.6% – South Carolina trails only Kentucky (55.8%) in the SEC in field goal percentage, as Carolina hits 48.6 percent of its attempts thus far in 2012-13.

SEC/BIG EAST Challenge
Carolina’s contest vs. St. John’s marks the third time that the Gamecocks will compete in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge. South Carolina earned a 68-67 victory over Providence in Philadelphia during the 2007-08 campaign in its first appearance in the event, while the Friars evened the mark with a 76-67 win last season in Columbia.

Star Watch – Lakeem Jackson
After averaging 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds last season, and holding career averages of 6.0 points and 4.4 rebounds, senior forward Lakeem Jackson is performing at an elite level thus far in 2012-13. He is among team leaders with 11.2 points per contest, and leads the team and ranks fourth in the SEC with 8.3 rebounds per game. He has scored in double-figures in four games this season and his 67.4 percent from the field ranks third in the SEC and 13th in the country.