Gamecock Gameday: #24 South Carolina Hosts #19 Florida Wednesday
Jan. 17, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina will face back-to-back ranked opponents this week for the second time this season, beginning with Wednesday’s matchup vs. No. 19/21 Florida. The Gators and Gamecocks enter SEC action this week tied with Kentucky atop the standings with undefeated conference records. Carolina looks for its second straight victory over the Gators, as the Gamecocks earned an overtime win in Columbia in the only meeting between the two former SEC East rivals last season.
– South Carolina is in its 109th season of varsity basketball in 2016-17.
– On the sidelines, Frank Martin is joined by associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Bruce Shingler, and director of operations Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina is back in the national rankings this week, checking in at No. 24 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The Gamecocks jumped in to the national rankings on Nov. 28 for the first time this season after posting wins over two ranked opponents the previous week in No. 25/24 Michigan and No. 18/16 Syracuse. The Gamecocks checked in at No. 20 in the Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll. The Gamecocks have risen to as high as 15th in the AP poll this season, which was the highest rank for Carolina since the Gamecocks were ranked 14th in the final poll of the 1997-98 campaign. The Gamecocks high mark in the Coaches poll this season was at No. 15.
– South Carolina led for the entire contest in a 67-56 home win over Ole Miss last Saturday to improve to 14-3 on the year and 4-0 in league action. Sophomore forward Chris Silva collected his second career double-double with a career high 16 points and 11 rebounds. Classmate PJ Dozier also provided 16 points and rookie guard Rakym Felder was a spark off the bench, scoring 12 points, including nine straight for the Gamecocks during the middle portion of the second half.
– In league play, Carolina opponents are averaging 21.0 turnovers per contest.
– South Carolina currently leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 27.9 percent from beyond the arc this season.
– South Carolina leads the SEC in several defensive categories entering Wednesday’s matchup vs. the Gators. In overall games, Carolina is tops in scoring defense (59.8), FG% defense (36.4%) and 3-point FG% defense (27.9%), as well as in steals (8.4 per game). In stricly league games, Carolina is first in scoring defense (31.2), FG% defense (38.0%) and steals (10.0 per game).
– South Carolina is 10-1 at home this season, averaging 74.8 points per game and hitting 44.2% from the field.
– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is 80-78 (.506) all-time in conference games.
– South Carolina is in its 26th basketball season as a member of the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks are 159-253 (.382) all-time in SEC games.
– The Gamecocks currently rank 26th in the NCAA RPI (games through Jan. 15), which is third in the SEC behind Florida (3rd) and Kentucky (7th).
– Nine different Gamecocks average at least 12 minutes per game, and seven different players provide at least five points per outing.
– Sophomore guard Hassani Gravett and freshman guard Rakym Felder have both been a spark off the bench for Carolina this season. In the last 10 games, Gravett has led the Gamecocks in points off the bench four times, and Felder five times. Last week, Gravett led the bench with 12 crucial points vs. Tennessee, and Felder scored 12 of his own in the win over Ole Miss, including nine-straight Carolina points midway through the second half.
– Carolina ranks 1st in 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.9%) nationally. Gamecock opponents average just 4.7 made 3s per game on 16.9 attempts per game.
– South Carolina is out-scoring its opponents by 16.5 points per game in home contests this season, scoring 74.8 points per game, compared to 58.4 by its opponents.
– Led by second-year head coach Mike White, Florida is 14-3 overall this season and is undefeated at 5-0 in SEC games.
– Florida played its first 11 games of the season at neutral site or away matchups due to arena renovations at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. UF’s first home game came in a 94-71 win over Little Rock on Dec. 21.
– The Gators have posted wins at Arkansas, vs. Ole Miss and Tennessee, at Alabama and most recently an OT win over Georgia thus far in SEC contests.
– The Gators are led by three in double figures, with KeVaughn Allen’s 13.9 per game a team high. Canyon Barry adds 12.8 per contest and Devin Robinson provides 11.4.
– Barry leads the team in SEC games at 15.4 per outing. He tallied a season high 27 in the OT victory over Georgia, connecting on five 3s, and hitting all of his eight attempts at the free throw line.
– Florida is strong defensively, as UF has forced at least 18 turnovers in each of its last four games.
– UF ranks 29th nationally with 8.4 steals per game, which is second in the conference to South Carolina’s 8.4 per outing (25th nationally) as well.
Florida leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 43-23, and holds a 21-14 edge in games played in Columbia. South Carolina won last season’s meeting against the Gators, a 73-69 overtime thriller at Colonial Life Arena. That Gamecock win snapped a streak of seven straight wins in the series for Florida. Carolina aims for its first back-to-back wins over the Gators since the 2010-2011 league campaigns.
SILVA EMERGING AS CONSISTENT OFFENSIVE THREAT
Sophomore forward Chris Silva has emerged as a consistent offensive threat this season. The Libreville, Gabon, native has set a new career high in scoring three different times this season, including in last weekend’s win over Ole Miss, scoring a career best 16 points, while matching his career high with 11 rebounds. Silva has hit 57.8 percent of his shot attempts this season (59-102), and is also hitting 71.2 percent (47-66) at the foul line. His rebounds per game average (6.3) is almost two more than his freshman season, and his 33 blocks this season are already five more than he had in all of 2015-16.
BY THE NUMBERS
1.9 – Sophomore forward Chris Silva is averaging 1.9 blocks per game this season, which ranks seventh in the SEC and 52nd nationally.
2.1 – PJ Dozier’s 2.1 steals per game is second on the team and ranks second in the SEC and 31st nationally. Dozier has five games this season with at least three steals, and collected a season high four steals vs. FIU.
2.5 – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell is averaging 2.5 steals per game this season, including an impressive 4.3 per game during league play.
2.982 – The Gamecocks excelled in the classroom during the fall semester, as the team posted a cumulative GPA of 2.982.
4.3 – Thornwell is averaging 4.3 steals per game in league play. He collected two steals in Carolina’s most recent win vs. Ole Miss.
6 – South Carolina committed just six turnovers in the win vs. A&M, trying for the fewest in the Frank Martin era.
112 – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell currently ranks third all-time in career games started in the Garnet and Black at 112. Thornwell is four starts away from tying Melvin Watson and BJ McKie for first all-time in the category (116).
161 – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell now ranks in the top 10 in career steals at Carolina with 161, including 28 this season.
171 – South Carolina is 171-80 all-time at Colonial Life Arena, including a 10-1 mark this season.
South Carolina travels to face No. 5/5 Kentucky on Saturday at Rupp Arena. The game marks Carolina’s first road game in the series since the 2015 league campaign. The matchup will be broadcast on ESPN with a 6 p.m. ET tip. Tom Hart (pxp), Kara Lawson (analyst) and Kaylee Hartung (sidelines) will have the call.