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"Inside The Chart" with @GamecockRadio - March 2, 2012

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March 2, 2012


Nothing offers greater salvation than the five sweetest words in college basketball.




Trap vs. Vanderbilt.jpegThe calendar has now turned to college basketball's most glorious month, and South Carolina hopes it can also turn the page.  Hearts broken on a Mississippi State buzzer-beater, the Gamecocks can mend them with a strong finish against the Georgia Bulldogs (13-16, 4-11 SEC).  Pre-tip reads before Carolina rolls into Stegeman Coliseum (1:00 p.m. EST, Gamecock IMG Sports Network).


Turnabout on Turnovers:  Football coaches preach it religiously:  win the turnover battle, win the game.  The Gamecocks have just done that, hoarding possessions for their slow-tempo style. 


South Carolina has won the turnover battle, but not the points-off-turnovers battle.


So why have they wound up on the short end?  Despite committing 15 fewer turnovers than its opponents over the last 3 games, South Carolina has been outscored 50-38 in points off turnovers.


Opponent                Rebound Margin                  Pts. off TO's

Mississippi St.        +2  (14-12)                            -11  (19-8)

Tennessee               +12 (21-9)                               +6  (23-17) 

Vanderbilt                +1  (12-11)                            -7  (14-7)


South Carolina:    47 TO, 38 points off TO

Opponents:           32 TO, 50 points off TO


Georgia already struggles to score.  The Bulldogs' effective FG% of 45.0% ranks 300th in the country, and last in the SEC.  South Carolina doesn't need to help them out.  The Gamecocks need to prevent the casual turnovers - coughing up dribble handoffs, getting stripped above the three-point line, etc. -- that can lead to easy transition baskets. 


KCP.jpg"KCP" - Keep Caldwell Pacified:  In its Feb. 8 win, Carolina held down 6'5" freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of the more multifaceted scoring guards in the SEC.  "KCP" managed only 9 points, and suffered through one of his more frigid three-point shooting nights in SEC play (1-7 3pt.).  


Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (right) averages 13 ppg. 


Just as impressive, South Carolina forced Caldwell-Pope into 3 turnovers.  That may not sound significant, but Caldwell-Pope ranks 20th in the nation (2nd SEC) in Turnover Rate (9.1%).  Turnover rate is an estimate of the number of turnovers a player commits per 100 plays.


Against South Carolina, Caldwell-Pope had a Turnover Rate of 21.1%, well above his season average of 9.1%.


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - Turnover %

Season:                                  9.1%

Vs. South Carolina               21.1%


Like they did against Vanderbilt's Jeffery Taylor, the Gamecocks never let Caldwell-Pope catch comfortably, especially when he curled around baseline stagger-screens (where they like to run him).  Caldwell-Pope and senior Gerald Robinson Jr. are Georgia's most dynamic scorers.  Take away one, and it could be difficult for Georgia to sustain its offense.


Dustin Ware.jpgWhat Not To Ware:  Georgia celebrates Senior Day Saturday, and like all teams, it will try to deliver a fitting send-off.  The Bulldogs will honor a pair of mainstays in its backcourt, point guard Dustin Ware and shooting guard Gerald Robinson, Jr.  Robinson, the Bulldogs' leading scorer, has an explosive first step, polish off the dribble, and an ability to affect every aspect of the floor (11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists vs. South Carolina).


He may not post the gaudiest numbers, but senior guard Dustin Ware (left) has been a barometer for Georgia's success.


But don't sleep on Ware.  The 5'11" guard from Powder Springs, Ga., led all SEC games in three-point percentage last year (49.3%), but has been mired in a season-long shooting slump.  When he makes three-pointers, though, he clearly transforms Georgia's offense.


Dustin Ware 3pt. FG%

Wins:                       28-65 3pt.             43.1%

Losses:                   22-100 3pt.            22.0%  


Under the proud lights of Senior Day, will Ware have one final, crowning performance on his home floor?  And will he lift the Bulldogs' offense with him?


Huh?  In its two SEC wins, the Gamecocks have shot 19.6% at the three-point line (10-51)... and 87.5% at the free-throw line (21-24).


Damontre Harris LSU.jpegDamontre Needs to Dominate:  Damontre Harris collected his 2nd career double-double against Mississippi State, tallying 14 points and 11 rebounds.  He'll try to carry that attitude into Athens, where Georgia's most physical post player, sophomore Marcus Thornton, has been bothered by balky knees.  No other Bulldog low-post player, such as Donte' Williams and John Florveus, prefers a crash-and-bang style.


How can Damontre Harris merge his strong offensive rebounding and 80% free-throw shooting?


As the season draws to a close, Harris needs to connect two facets of his game:  his wingspan and his improved free-throw shooting.  Harris has the length of a Marabou stork.  Combined with his nimble leaping ability, he can get to offensive rebounds in a hurry.  Too often, though, he'll attempt a stickback using a turnaround or finesse move, rather than driving his body through a defender.


Harris' may have ended a streak of 12 straight made free throws against Mississippi State, but his SEC FT% remains a healthy 80.8%.  If Harris can seek out contact, and grind for free throws off offensive rebounds, he'll make himself even more effective.


And Finally... Welcome to March.  What more needs to be said?


Now that we're prepared, we hope you are as well.  Our pre-game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. EST on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network.  We'll see you in Athens.


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