Jan. 8, 2016
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nationally-ranked South Carolina hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday in a mid-afternoon matchup at Colonial Life Arena in its 2016 SEC home opener. Carolina remains one of just two unbeaten teams in the country after most recently posting an 81-69 win at Auburn on Tuesday.
– South Carolina is in its 108th season of varsity basketball in 2015-16.
– Carolina is led by fourth-year head coach Frank Martin. Alongside him are associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Lamont Evans and director of men’s hoops operations, Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina is ranked No. 22 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, it’s highest ranking since 1998, while Carolina remains at No. 20 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll. Carolina remains the only undefeated team in the SEC and one of just two unbeaten teams nationally (games through Jan. 6).
– Led by a season high 22 points from junior guard Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina had five score in double-figures, and the Gamecocks won their first SEC opener since 2011 on Tuesday with an 81-69 win on the road at Auburn. It marked Carolina’s sixth win away from Colonial Life Arena this season. Carolina held a 13-point advantage at the half, led by hot 3-point shooting in the opening stanza. The Gamecocks would go on to hit 50% from the field in the game, and match a season high with nine made 3s.
– Entering Saturday’s contest, junior guard Sindarius Thornwell needs just nine points to reach 1,000 for his career. He aims to become the 42nd member of the 1,000-point club, and the first since Dominique Archie during the 2009-10 campaign.
– A combined 68 fouls and 99 free throw attempts was the story of South Carolina’s 86-76 win vs. visiting Memphis on Jan. 2 at Colonial Life Arena in the final non-conference tune-up of the season for Carolina. The win moved the Gamecocks to 13-0 on the year, it’s longest win streak since the 1969-70 squad won 17-straight. Senior forward Michael Carrera posted his second double-double of the season with 16 points and a game high 11 rebounds, while junior guard Sindarius Thornwell added a season high 18 points, two assists and three steals.
– In the most updated NCAA stats (games through Jan. 6), South Carolina ranks in the top 20 in field goal percentage defense (15th), rebound margin (17th), free throw attempts (7th), free throws made (8th), and total rebounds per game (17th).
GAMECOCKS IN THE POLLS
South Carolina remains at No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week, but has jumped to No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll, it’s highest ranking since 1998. Carolina was ranked as high as high as fifth in the poll during the 1997-98 season.
South Carolina continues SEC action when it travels to face Alabama on Wednesday, Jan. 13. That contest will tip at 9 p.m. ET with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Joe Dean Jr. (analyst) on the call. The Crimson Tide holds a 25-15 advantage in the all-time series with South Carolina, however, each team won on its homecourt in two meetings last season.
Vanderbilt visits Colonial Life Arena for the first time since the 2014 SEC campaign on Saturday, holding an 8-6 record this season, which includes an 0-2 mark in league play. The Commodores suffered a 90-82 loss to LSU at home in their league opener, before dropping a 90-85 overtime decision at Arkansas on Tuesday evening. Two players average double-figure points for Vandy, led by sophomore guard Wade Baldwin’s 14.7 per game. He also paces the team with 4.1 assists per game. Junior center Damian Jones pulls down a team best 6.9 rebounds per game, while junior forward Luke Kornet is close behind with 6.7 rebounds per game. Vandy ranks second in the SEC in field goal percentage, just behind LSU with a mark of 47.7 percent overall from the field, which includes 41.1 percent from 3-point range. The Commodores are led by head coach Kevin Stallings in his 17th season leading the squad.
BY THE NUMBERS
22 – Junior guard Sindarius Thornwell scored a season high 22 points in the win at Auburn, his highest scoring out-put since his rookie season.
5 – In scoring those 22 points, Thornwell hit a career high five 3s vs. Auburn. It was the most made 3s in a game by a Gamecock since classmate Duane Notice hit his own career high five vs. Clemson last season.
12/10 – Senior forward Laimonas Chatkevicius posted the third double-double of his career at Auburn on Tuesday with 12 points and a game high 10 rebounds. His last double-double came at Auburn last season when he tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds.
+10.3 – The Gamecocks have out-rebounded 13 of 14 opponents this season by a mark of +10.3 rebounds per game, which leads the SEC and ranks 17th nationally.
291/424 – The Gamecocks rank seventh nationally in free throw attempts (424) and eighth in free throws made (291).
35.2 – The senior trio of forwards – Michael Carrera, Laimonas Chatkevicius and Mindaugas Kacinas – averaged a combined 35.2 points per game in non-conference play this season.
53: Carolina’s 53 rebounds versus Memphis marked the most for the Gamecocks in a game since pulling down 55 vs. USC Upstate on Nov. 23, 2010.
12-12: Junior guard Duane Notice hit 12-of-12 from the free throw line in last Saturday’s win vs. Memphis. It marked career highs for Notice in both makes and attempts, and the top mark by a Gamecock this season.
SERIES VS. VANDERBILT
The Commodores hold a slight 29-25 upperhand in the all-time series with South Carolina, and the Gamecocks own a 13-12 mark in games played in Columbia. Vandy has won seven of the last 10 meetings between the two schools.