March 10, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — After finishing tied for third in the final SEC standings, and clinching the third seed in the SEC Tournament, South Carolina will begin tournament play on Friday against No. 6 seed Georgia, who advanced to the Quarterfinals with a 10-point win over 11th-seed Mississippi State on Thursday night. South Carolina received a bye in the Tournament for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign when Carolina won a share of the SEC East title.
GAMECOCKS CONCLUDE HISTORIC REGULAR SEASON
South Carolina concluded an historic regular season on March 5 with a 76-61 win on the road at Arkansas. That victory set the school record for regular-season wins at 24, and gives the Gamecocks a chance to match the school record for total wins in a season (25) on Friday in Nashville. The Gamecocks began the season 15-0, their best start since the 1933-34 campaign, and the 24 wins are the most since the 1996-97 squad also posted 24 victories. In addition, South Carolina’s 11 SEC wins marked the most since 1998, match the second-most ever by a Carolina team and mark just the fourth time that the Gamecocks have had double-digit SEC wins in their 25 years in the league.
The SEC released its postseason coaches awards in advance of this week’s tournament on Tuesday and it was announced that senior forward Michael Carrera was named to the First Team, junior guard Sindarius Thornwell was named to the All-Defensive Team and junior guard Duane Notice was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. The postseason accolade marks the first for Notice, while Thornwell and Carrera collect their second-career honor, as both were named to the All-Freshman team during their rookie campaigns. Carrera’s First Team selection marks the first Gamecock to be selected to an all-conference first or second team since the 2010 campaign.
GAMECOCK QUICK HITS
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 receiving votes in both the Associated Press’ Top 25 Poll and in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll this week. The Gamecocks have been receiving votes or have been ranked for the past 15 weeks in the Coaches Poll, rising to as high as 15th, and for a total of 14 weeks in the AP poll, rising to as high as 19th.
– South Carolina is 53rd in the most recent NCAA RPI (March 7), and the Gamecocks are 8-4 against teams in the top 100 of the RPI.
– The Gamecocks concluded their 25th season of competition in the Southeastern Conference in 2016 with an 11-7 record. Carolina owns a 155-253 (.379) all-time record in SEC play.
– Frank Martin owns a 76-78 (.493) all-time record in conference games. The 11 SEC wins in 2016 match the highest conference wins for a team under the direction of Martin, as his 2009-10 Kansas State squad also won 11 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
– Senior forward Michael Carrera missed the March 5 Arkansas contest due to a right hip injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
– South Carolina is 4-0 in neutral site contests this season, posting wins over DePaul, Hofstra and Tulsa to clinch the Paradise Jam championship in November, and a win vs. St. John’s in December at the Mohegan Sun. The Gamecocks are averaging 82.0 points per game and hitting 48.1 percent from the field (49.0 percent from 3-point range) in neutral site games this season.
– South Carolina owns an all-time record of 20-24 (.454) in SEC Tournament contests. The Gamecocks are a combined 4-2 in the event over the course of the past two seasons, posting wins in the first two rounds in 2014 and 2015.
– South Carolina is 2-3 in SEC Tournament games played at Bridgestone Arena, and 6-5 in all Tournament games played in Nashville (4-2 record at the Sommet Center).
– South Carolina’s 15 home wins this season marked the most since the 2008-09 squad went 16-3 at Colonial Life Arena.
– South Carolina opened the 2015-16 season with a perfect 15-0 record, which was the best start to a season since the 1933-34 campaign when Carolina began the season 17-0.
– Frank Martin led teams are 6-8 all-time in conference tournament games. The Gamecocks are 4-3 all-time in the SEC Tournament under the direction of Coach Martin.
– The Gamecocks are 4-2 this season in games decided by five points or less.
– The Bulldogs earned the No. 6 seed in this week’s SEC Tournament with a 17-12 overall record this season and a 10-8 mark in league games.
– UGA defeated South Carolina twice during the regular season, posting a 69-56 win in Athens and a 74-72 win in Columbia.
– UGA enters tournament play on a three-game win streak, with victories over Ole Miss, South Carolina and Alabama.
– Four players average double-figures for the Bulldogs, led by junior guard J.J. Frazier’s 16.4 per outing. Sophomore Yante Maten adds 15.9 and a team high 8.0 rebounds per game, and senior guards Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann add 13.5 and 10.4 points per game, respectively, in overall games this season.
– UGA has not played in a neutral site game this season.
– The Bulldogs lead the SEC in field goal percent defense, holding opponents to just 38.0 percent from the field this season. They rank third in 3-point field goal percent defense (32.4 percent), third in rebound margin (+3.8), third in blocked shots (5.3 per game) and second in defensive rebounds (27.9).
– UGA is led by head coach Mark Fox in his seventh season.
SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
– Mississippi State enters tournament action with a 14-16 overall record, which includes a 7-11 record in SEC games, which saw MSU draw the No. 11 seed in the tournament.
– MSU went 1-1 vs. South Carolina during the regular season, the Gamecocks posted an 84-74 win in Columbia, and the Bulldogs answered with a 68-58 victory in Starkville.
– MSU has won two of its last three games entering tournament play, both wins coming at home, vs. South Carolina and Auburn.
– Four average double-figure points for the Bulldogs, led by senior forward Gavin Ware’s 15.8 per game. His 7.7 rebounds per game are also a team best.
– Senior guard Craig Sword adds 12.8 points per game, Freshman guards Quinndary Witherspoon and Malik Newman add 12.2 and 11.5 points, respectively.
– MSU is 2-2 in neutral site games this season. They have wins over Missouri State and Northern Colorado, and losses vs. Miami (Fla.) and Texas Tech.
– Mississippi State ranks second in the SEC in free throw percent (72.1), fourth in field goal percentage (45.9), sixth in assists (13.9) and sixth in steals (6.6).
– MSU is led by head coach Ben Howland in his first season.
BY THE NUMBERS
3.3+ – Senior forward Mindaugas Kacinas was named CoSIDA Academic All-District on Feb. 11, as he holds above a 3.3 cumulative GPA. The honor was the first of his career.
5 – In scoring a team high 22 points at Auburn, Thornwell hit a career high five 3s. It was the most made 3s in a game by a Gamecock since Notice hit his own career high five vs. Clemson last season.
+5 – South Carolina won five more SEC games this season (11) than it did last season (6). No other team improved their record in league games by more than two (Texas A&M and Vanderbilt).
6 – Junior guard Sindarius Thornwell dished six assists in the Carolina win at Arkansas on March 5. It marked the 12th time this season and the 20th time in his career that he has dished five or more assists in a game.
6-6/5-5 – In the win at A&M, Carrera reached his 1,000th career point, hitting 6-of-6 from the field, and 5-of-5 from the 3-point line. His five made 3s marked a new career high.
+6.8 – The Gamecocks have out-rebounded 24 of 31 opponents this season by a mark of +6.8 rebounds per game, which leads the SEC and ranks 28th nationally.
7 – Carrera is one of just seven Gamecocks all-time to reach 1,000 points and at least 700 rebounds.
8 – Notice matched a career high with eight assists in the win vs. Florida on Feb. 20.
8 – Rookie forward Raymond Doby saw 14 minutes of action in Carolina’s win at Arkansas on March 5, matching a season high with eight points. He hit three-of-five attempts from the floor and sank two free throws in the win.
SERIES VS. GEORGIA
Georgia leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 57-50, including a 5-3 advantage in neutral site contests. Last season, South Carolina won both regular season meetings, but Georgia snapped the streak with a win over the Gamecocks at the SEC Tournament. This season, UGA won both regular season meetings. South Carolina is 0-2 vs. UGA in the SEC Tournament.
SERIES VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State leads the all-time series with South Carolina 19-12, and the two teams split the regular-season meetings in 2016. The Gamecocks have wins in three of the last five meetings between the two schools. The two teams have met four times in the SEC Tournament, with that series tied at 2-2.
DOWNEY NAMED SEC LEGEND
The Southeastern Conference released its list of 2016 Allstate SEC Basketball Legends in mid-February, where it was announed that Devan Downey would be South Carolina’s Legend. Downey ranks fourth on the South Carolina all-time scoring list with 1,901 points, a mark he achieved in just three seasons (2008-10). He was a three-time first-team All-SEC performer by the AP and Coaches and earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2009 and 2010. He was also a two-time SEC All-Defensive team selection in ’09 and ’10. He owns the program’s career record in steals, ranks second in field goals made, third in career scoring average and fourth in assists per game This past fall, he became the 23rd member of the program to be inducted into the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame.