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Jan. 8, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina begins its 22nd season of competition in the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday when it travels to Mississippi State for the 2013 league opener for both schools. The contest also marks the first SEC games for both Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin and MSU head coach Rick Ray. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN3 and available on ESPN Full Court with Mike Gleason (play-by-play) and Nate Ross (analyst) on the call. Fans can also listen on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network via and on 107.5 The Game in Columbia. The meeting marks the 25th all-time between the two schools, with Mississippi State holding a 16-8 edge.

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013
Tipoff: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Starkville, Miss.
Arena: Humphrey Coliseum (10,575)
Series: Mississippi State leads, 16-8
Last Meeting: Mississippi State win, 69-67 (OT), Feb. 29, 2012, in Columbia, S.C.
Broadcast: ESPN3 (internet only/available on Full Court)
Talent: Mike Gleason (pxp), Nate Ross (analyst)
Radio: Gamecock IMG Radio Network
Sirius: N/A; XM: N/A
Talent: Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst)
@GamecockMBB | Live Stats | ESPN3 | GameNotesGet Acrobat Reader

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.
– The Gamecocks enter their 22nd season of competition in the Southeastern Conference in 2012. Carolina owns a 129-207 (.383) all-time record in SEC play.
– South Carolina is 8-13 all-time in SEC openers (home and away), including an 0-2 record vs. Mississippi State in league openers.
– Frank Martin led teams have opened league play on the road four times during his career as a college head coach (all at Kansas State).
– Carolina’s last road victory in an SEC opener came in a win over Auburn on Jan. 9, 2010. The win marked Carolina’s first in an SEC opener on the road since a 95-85 win at Tennessee on Jan. 6, 1993.
– Frank Martin owns a 50-32 (.609) all-time record in conference play.
– Carolina’s contest at Mississippi State is just the second true road contest of the season for the Gamecocks (at St. John’s, Nov. 29, SEC/BIG EAST Challenge).
– The Gamecocks are currently riding a five-game win streak entering Wednesday’s contest at Mississippi State. It marks the longest win streak for Carolina since Nov. 2010.
– Over the course of the last two games, sophomore guard Damien Leonard is averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest. He has put together a streak of two-consecutive games with double-figure points, and collected a career best eight rebounds vs. SC State last Saturday.
– Senior forward Lakeem Jackson continued to impress for the Gamecocks, matching a season high with 16 points, hitting 8-of-15 attempts from the floor, in Carolina’s win vs. SC State on Saturday. Jackson also pulled down eight rebounds, posted two assists and blocked one shot. It marked the third time this season that Jackson has led the team, or shared the team lead, in scoring, while he is consistently among team leaders in the rebounding category.
– Junior guard Bruce Ellington returned to practice the first of this week and will be available for Wednesday’s contest at Mississippi State. Ellington has played in four contests with the basketball squad this season, averaging 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds.

Scouting Mississippi State
The Bulldogs enter Wednesday’s contest with a 5-7 overall record, including wins in two of their last three contests. MSU most recently earned a 97-46 win vs. New Orleans on Jan. 3. Other non-conference wins for State include Florida Atlantic, Alcorn State, Texas San-Antonio and Central Arkansas. Sophomore forward Johnson Roquez paces the squad with 12.4 points per contest, while he also pulls in a team high 5.6 rebounds. Mississippi State is 44-35 all-time in SEC openers and has dropped its last two. At home in openers, the Bulldogs are 29-14. MSU has had several players injured this season, including most recently senior forward Wendell Lewis, who suffered a fractured right patella in early December. Rick Ray is in his first year as head coach of the Bulldogs.

By The Numbers
6.2 – Over the course of the last five games, junior point guard Eric Smith is averaging a stellar 6.2 assists per game, just over four assists better than his career average. During the last five games, Smith has committed just 14 total turnovers (2.8 per game).
5 – Also over the course of the last five games, five different Gamecocks are averaging double-figure points, led by Brenton Williams’ 12.6 per game, and Brian Richardson’s 12.2 per outing.
44.9% – South Carolina leads the SEC and ranks in the top five nationally in offensive rebounding percentage with a mark of 44.9 percent.
9.0 – In back-to-back contests (vs. Presbyterian, vs. SC State), South Carolina has hit its season low in turnovers in each game, committing just nine. During its current five-game win streak, Carolina is averaging just 14.2 turnovers per contest (the Gamecocks averaged 19.3 turnovers per contest during the first eight games of the season).
5-straight – A huge spark during Carolina’s win steak has been the play of junior guard Brian Richardson. The Wilson, N.C., native has posted double-figure points in each of the five games, including a team high of 16 vs. Presbyterian. Richardson has hit 44.4 percent (20-45) from the floor during the stretch, including 41.7 (10-24) from 3-point range.
+9.5 – In the SEC, South Carolina trails only Missouri (+13.0), the nation’s leader, in rebounding margin with a mark of +9.5. The Gamecocks have out-rebounded 12-of-13 opponents this season, with the only exception being Appalachian State.

During The Current Five-Game Win Streak South Carolina Has …
… Hit 47.1 percent from the floor … Has held opponents to just 24.4 percent from 3-point range … Is committing just 14.2 turnovers per contest … Has five players averaging double-figure points … Is out-rebounding its opponents by 7.4 boards per game … Is averaging 14.8 offensive rebounds and 15.8 second change points per game … Junior guard Eric Smith is averaging 6.2 assists per game against just 2.8 turnovers per contest … Junior guard Brenton Williams has hit 55.9 percent (19-34) of his attempts from the floor, including 11-of-20 (55.0%) from 3-point range … Eight different Gamecocks are averaging at least 20 minutes per game.

Up Next For The Gamecocks
South Carolina returns to Columbia on Saturday to host Auburn in the 2013 SEC home opener for the Gamecocks. That game is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.