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Aug. 11, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin announced on Tuesday his team’s non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2015-16 campaign, Martin’s fourth season in Columbia. The lineup features 14 games, with nine home games, including one exhibition. Highlighting the non-conference slate is the Gamecocks’ trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam in November and a neutral site matchup against St. John’s in the Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout just before the Christmas holiday.

The Gamecocks will face three teams who advanced to the postseason a year ago, with the possibility of facing five, with Tulsa (NIT) and Hofstra (CBI) potential opponents at the Paradise Jam. Carolina will also face six teams with a returning first-team all-conference honoree on its squad from a year ago.

“We have a great schedule put together for our non-conference this season,” Martin said. “It is a very challenging schedule that we think will prepare our team for the SEC season. The Paradise Jam has a great field of teams and will be very competitive, and we are excited for the opportunity to play in the Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout against St. John’s in December. We play Clemson on the road this season and we are excited about nine home games in front of our great fans at Colonial Life Arena.”

South Carolina opens its 108th season of varsity basketball with an exhibition contest against Allen University on Nov. 8. This season marks the second-straight that the Gamecocks have welcomed another squad from the City of Columbia to Colonial Life Arena for an exhibition game. The official season opener is the following weekend, when Norfolk State visits Columbia as part of the Paradise Jam on Nov. 14. The Spartans earned their fourth-consecutive postseason berth last spring with a trip to the Tournament after posting a 20-14 record, and advancing to the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament.

The Gamecocks will be back at Colonial Life Arena just two days later with a matchup against 2015 College Basketball Invitational participant Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles posted a 19-14 record last season, and the program has advanced to the postseason in four of the last five campaigns. The teams have met twice previously, last during the 1988-89 campaign, with the series tied at 1-1.

A trip to the Caribbean is up next for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks will compete in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. The eight-team field includes Carolina’s opening-round opponent, DePaul, possible second-round opponents Florida State and Hofstra, Indiana State, Norfolk State, Ohio and Tulsa. The Blue Demons are led by first-year head coach Dave Leitao in his second stint with the program, and the squad returns three of its top four scorers from last season. DePaul holds a slight 4-3 edge in the all-time series, with the last meeting a Blue Demon win in the 1999 Puerto Rico Shootout.

Carolina returns to Columbia to host Lipscomb on Nov. 27, and Western Carolina on Nov. 30, to end the month. The Bison return one of the top scorers in the Atlantic Sun in junior Josh Williams (16.9 points per game), while the Catamounts return three of their top scorers, including Mike Brown, who provided 13.8 points per game as a junior last year.

The Gamecocks and South Florida Bulls are set to meet for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign on Dec. 5 in Columbia. The Bulls are in year two under head coach Orlando Antigua. Antigua is familiar with the Gamecocks having served as an assistant at Kentucky prior to his time at USF. The Bulls look to build this season, having lost just one senior from last year’s squad.

Drexel is next on the home schedule on Dec. 15 following the break for exams in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Gamecocks embark on their first road contest of the season, heading to face Clemson at Bon Secours Arena on Dec. 18. The Tigers’ home court is currently undergoing renovations, so the two rivals will meet in Greenville, S.C., in the 166th meeting between the two schools. South Carolina posted a 68-45 victory over the Tigers last season, behind a game-high 19 points from then-sophomore guard Duane Notice, including 14 of those in the second half.

South Carolina travels to Uncasville, Conn., just before the Christmas holiday to face St. John’s in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout on Dec. 22. The Red Storm is led by first-year head coach Chris Mullin who will look to rebuild his program after the graduation of top scorer D’Angelo Harris (17.5 points per game) and transfer of one of the nation’s top shot blockers in Chris Obekpa (3.13 blocks per game). The meeting will be the fifth all-time between the Gamecocks and Red Storm, and the first since an 89-65 St. John’s win in Queens on Nov. 29, 2012.

Francis Marion closes out the month of December at Colonial Life Arena in the first-ever meeting between the Gamecocks and Patriots on Dec. 30. Head coach Gary Edwards returns his top three scorers after finishing last season 13-15. South Carolina finishes its non-conference slate with a renewed rivalry with former Metro Conference opponent Memphis when the Tigers travel to Columbia on Jan. 2. Head coach Josh Pastner lost his top scorer in Austin Nichols, but the Tigers welcome six newcomers to the squad for the 2015-16 season.

Game times and television details for the non-conference schedule will be released at a later date.

2015-16 Non-Conference Schedule
Nov. 8 — Allen University (exhibition)
Nov. 14 — Norfolk State (home game part of the Paradise Jam)
Nov. 16 — Oral Roberts
Nov. 20-23 — U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam
Nov. 27 — Lipscomb
Nov. 30 — Western Carolina
Dec. 5 — USF
Dec. 15 — Drexel
Dec. 18 — at Clemson
Dec. 22 — vs. St. John’s (Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout)
Dec. 30 — Francis Marion
Jan. 2 — Memphis

Home games are in bold

Below is a brief capsule on each of Carolina’s possible non-conference opponents for the 2015-16 campaign.

Allen University
The season opens with an exhibition against Allen University, a NAIA school just down the road in Columbia. The Yellow Jackets compete in the Association of Independent Institutions (AII). It will be the two programs’ first meeting.

Norfolk State (Follow the Spartans on Twitter )
On Nov. 14, the Gamecocks host Norfolk State, who returns three of its top scorers and rebounders from the 2014-15 season. The Spartans finished last season at 20-14 overall and were rewarded with a trip to the CIT. The senior trio of Jeff Short, RaShid Gaston and D’Shon Taylor combined to average 47.6 points and 18.8 rebounds per game. The two teams could also meet in the Paradise Jam, either in the championship game or the fourth-place consolation game. The November game will be the first meeting ever between programs.

Oral Roberts (Follow the Golden Eagles on Twitter )
Two days after taking on the Spartans, the Gamecocks will face off with Oral Roberts, a traditional power from the Summit League. The Golden Eagles also played in the postseason for 2014-15, as their 19 wins earned them a trip to the College Basketball Invitational. Dynamic guard Obi Emegano leads the team in his senior season, coming off a junior campaign where he averaged 18.3 points per game and was an all-league member. This will be the third game in the all-time series, with each team winning at home in the late 1980s.

vs. DePaul (Follow the Blue Demons on Twitter )
Competition down in the Virgin Islands begins on Nov. 20 when Carolina faces DePaul in the first game of the Paradise Jam. The Blue Demons are counting on help from six newcomers to help first-year coach Dave Leitao turn around a 12-20 record from last season. Three of its top four scorers are back, including guard Billy Garrett, Jr. (12.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) and forward Myke Henry (12 ppg, 5.4 rpg). This will be the eighth meeting all time between the two schools, with DePaul ahead 4-3. Each team is undefeated over three home games apiece, but the Blue Demons won the lone neutral-site game.

vs. Florida State (Follow the Seminoles on Twitter )
The Seminoles are a potential round-two opponent at the Paradise Jam, and are bringing back a wealth of talent to match one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Combo guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes was a freshman All-ACC and All-American last year after averaging 14.9 points per game. His talent will be matched by high school All-American Dwayne Bacon, Malik Beasley and Terance Mann, who were all players of the year for their respective states as high school seniors. If they meet it will be the 31st game in the series, with Florida State ahead 16-14. The two last met in the 2005-06 season.

vs. Hofstra (Follow the Pride on Twitter )
The other opponent Carolina may face in round two of the Paradise Jam is Hofstra, a team that improved by ten wins between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons and earned a spot in the CBI after a 20-14 record last year. Under the direction of third-year head coach Joe Mihalich, the Pride are a team to watch in the Colonial Athletic Association with seniors Juan’ya Green (17.1 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.3 rpg) and Ameen Tanksley (16.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg). If the two meet it will be the sixth overall game in the series, dominated 5-0 by Carolina with the last meeting coming in 1981.

vs. Ohio (Follow the Bobcats on Twitter )
The Bobcats will play opposite Carolina in the Paradise Jam’s bracket, but could be the team’s opponent in the final or fourth-place contest. The team won just 10 games last season and graduated more than half of its scoring output. Rising junior Antonio Campbell is the team’s returning scorer at 10 points per game. Ohio plays Tulsa in the first round of the Paradise Jam, and if they face the Gamecocks it would be the first time ever.

vs. Tulsa (Follow the Hurricane on Twitter )
The Tulsa Hurricane returns all five starters from its 23-win season last year, and is a dark horse candidate to win the American Athletic Conference this year. The guard tandem of James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison, who combined to average 27.6 points and ten rebounds per game last season, drives the team. If they meet, it would be the first game ever between the two programs.

vs. Indiana State (Follow the Sycamores on Twitter )
Coming out of the Missouri Valley Conference, the Sycamores finished last season at 15-16 overall. They will return all three of their top scorers, highlighted by Devonte Brown’s 11.9 per game. They faces Norfolk State in the first round of the Paradise Jam. Carolina has never faced Indiana State.

Lipscomb (Follow the Bison on Twitter )
Returning to Colonial Life Arena, the Gamecocks host the Bison, who went 14-17 overall last season out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, and also bring a tremendous wing scorer to the table for the 2015-16 season. Josh Williams put up 16.9 points per game to lead the offense last year, and returns for his junior campaign. This will be the second meeting between the two, with Carolina winning 75-68 at home in 2006.

Western Carolina (Follow the Catamounts on Twitter )
To close out the first month of the season, the Gamecocks will host Western Carolina. The Catamounts finished last season 15-17 overall and returns three of their top four scorers (Torrion Brummitt, Rhett Harrelson, Mike Brown) from that squad who will lead the way now as seniors. The Gamecocks are undefeated in the previous eight meetings, with the last contest coming in 2011.

South Florida (Follow the Bulls on Twitter )
The South Florida Bulls will play at Carolina to begin the month of December, and are entering year two under former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua. The Bulls went just 9-23 in his first season, but lose just one senior with leading scorer Corey Allen Jr. graduating after the 2014-15 season. Forward Chris Perry (10.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and guard Nehemias Morillo (10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) will be asked to lead the team as it continues to rise in 2015-16. Carolina owns a 3-1 lead in the all-time series, with the last meeting coming in 2009.

Drexel (Follow the Dragons on Twitter )
The Dragons 2014-15 season was filled with missed opportunities, as the team saw a handful of injuries to key starters derail a promising season and the team would finish 11-19 overall. The program then saw standout guard Damion Lee transfer as a graduate student, leaving the team with just one returning senior. Tavon Allen will be asked to shoulder much of the scoring load vacated by Lee’s 21.4 points per game, as the 6-7 guard posted 11.2 as a junior. Junior forward Rodney Williams returns after averaging 8.2 points and seven rebounds per game as a sophomore. This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

Clemson (Follow the Tigers on Twitter )
A crucial point in the Palmetto Series will be decided on Dec. 18, when arch-rival Clemson hosts the Gamecocks in its only road game of the non-conference. Athletic wings Jaron Blossomgame and Donte Grantham are the top returners to a team that went 16-15 last season, including eight wins in the ACC. After a convincing 68-45 win last season, the Gamecocks now lead the all-time series 89-76. Due to construction at Littlejohn Coliseum, the game will be played at Bon Secours Arena in Greenville.

vs. St. John’s (at Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout) (Follow the Red Storm on Twitter )
The Gamecocks will play 2015 NCAA tournament participant St. John’s on Dec. 22 as part of the Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. First-year head coach Chris Mullin had a stormy offseason after his program graduated the trio of D’Angelo Harrison (17.5 ppg), Sir’Dominic Pointer (13.7 ppg) and Phil Greene IV (13.0 ppg) and lost defensive stalwart Chris Obekpa to a transfer. Junior Rysheed Jordan will have to pick up the scoring slack, after topping out at 14.1 points per game last season. The meeting will be the fifth all-time between the Gamecocks and Red Storm, and the first since an 89-65 St. John’s win in Queens on Nov. 29, 2012. The Red Storm holds a 4-0 upper hand in the all-time series.

Francis Marion (Follow the Patriots on Twitter )
To close out 2015, Francis Marion will come to Colonial Life Arena for a Dec. 30 meeting, the first ever between the cross-state programs. The Patriots went 13-15 last season, but return their top three scorers with Dii’Jon Allen-Jordan leading the way at 18.8 points per game. The team plays in Division II, out of the Peach Belt Conference.

Memphis (Follow the Tigers on Twitter )
The non-conference season ends with a marquee matchup with Memphis, a traditional power that is coming off an 18-win season. The program lost leading scorer Austin Nichols, who transferred, but picked up a key transfer in Ricky Tarrant. The guard averaged 13.1 points per game for Alabama during an injury-shortened 2014-15 season, and joins with returner Shaq Goodwin (9.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) as players to watch. The Tigers hold a distinct advantage in the all-time series, leading 18-5, but are only 4-4 when playing at South Carolina. The two programs have not met since the 2003-04 season, but will renew its old Metro Conference rivalry to open 2016.