The South Carolina men's basketball team (8-6) begins SEC play when it travels to face No. 2/2 Kentucky (14-1) on Saturday in an afternoon matinee at Rupp Arena. The contest is set to begin at 4 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network (check local listings).
OPENING TIP Date: Saturday, January 7, 2012 Tipoff: 4 p.m. ET Location: Lexington, Ky. Arena: Rupp Arena (23,500) Series: Kentucky leads, 44-10 Television: SEC Network (check local listings) Talent: Carter Blackburn (pxp), Kyle Macy (analyst) Radio: Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst)
Carolina Quick Hits
- South Carolina is in its 104th season of basketball.
- South Carolina concluded its longest homestand of the season vs. SC State on Tuesday with a 79-51 victory. During the six-game home swing, the Gamecocks collected a 5-1 record, with their only loss against No. 2 Ohio State. South Carolina is 7-3 in games played at Colonial Life Arena this season.
- South Carolina scored a season high 79 points vs. SC State on Tuesday, with redshirt-senior Malik Cooke and sophmore Damontre Harris leading the way with 11 points each. Four other Gamecocks registered at least eight points in the win, including sophomore RJ Slawson with nine points and a team high nine rebounds.
- The Gamecocks open SEC play at No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday. It marks the fourth time in its history that South Carolina will face the Wildcats to open the SEC season. The last time was on Jan. 5, 2005, in Lexington. The Wildcats won that contest 79-75.
- The Gamecocks enter their 21st season of competition in the Southeastern Conference in 2012. Carolina owns a 127-193 (.396) all-time record in SEC play.
- South Carolina is 8-12 all-time in SEC openers (home and away), including a 3-0 record in SEC openers under head coach Darrin Horn.
- Carolina's last road victory in an SEC opener came in a win over Auburn on Jan. 9, 2010. The win marked Carolina's first in an SEC opener on the road since a 95-85 win at Tennessee on Jan. 6, 1993.
- Darrin Horn-led teams are 78-48 (.619) all-time in league play.
- The Gamecocks own a 1-1 record in true road games this season. South Carolina suffered a 58-53 loss at Elon on Nov. 15, and claimed a 58-55 victory at Clemson on Dec. 4.
- South Carolina prepares to play its third top-five opponent of the season when it travels to No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday. The Gamecocks played No. 1 North Carolina on Nov. 25 in Las Vegas and most recently hosted No. 2 Ohio State on Dec. 17.
- South Carolina ranks fifth in the SEC and among the nation's top 25 with 5.6 blocks per game. Sophomore forward Damontre Harris ranks among the top 50 with 2.1 blocks per game. Kentucky's Anthony Davis leads the nation with his 4.6 blocks per outing.
- South Carolina ranks first in the SEC in rebounding defense, as Carolina opponents collect just 31.9 rebounds per game. The Gamecocks have out-rebounded nine of 14 opponents this season.
- In games it has won in 2011-12, South Carolina holds a +13.1 scoring margin over its opponents. To compare, in games it has lost, Gamecock opponents score 8.5 more points per game.
- The Gamecocks own a 402-341 (.540) all-time record in the month of January. South Carolina earned a 4-4 record during the month last season, including overtime victories over No. 22/24 Vanderbilt and Arkansas in SEC play.
By The Numbers 17 - South Carolina dished a season high 17 assists on Tuesday vs. SC State. The 17 helpers came on 28 made baskets. It marked the most assists in a game since last season's 91-56 victory over SC State on Jan. 4, 2011, when the Gamecocks also collected 17 assists. 8-of-9 - Sophomore guard Bruce Ellington has been stellar from beyond the arc over the course of the last two games, hitting 8-of-9 attempts from 3-point range. In the five previous games, Ellington had hit just 4-of-18 attempts from 3. 50% - South Carolina has hit at least 50 percent of its shot attempts from the floor in back-to-back games, as Carolina posted a 51.1% (23-45) mark vs. USC Upstate on Dec. 31, followed by a 50.0% (28-56) effort vs. SC State on Jan. 3. It marked the first time that the Gamecocks have registered at least 50% from the floor in consecutive contests since Nov. 2009. South Carolina hit 51.9% of its shots in a win vs. Georgia Southern on Nov. 16, before hitting 50.8% from the floor in another victory over La Salle at the Charleston Classic on Nov. 19. 9 - South Carolina's bench point production continues to impress, as the Gamecocks average 24.8 points per game from bench production. Sophomores Bruce Ellington and RJ Slawson and freshman Damien Leonard all tallied nine points each off the bench vs. SC State to pace the Gamecocks. 12 - All 12 Gamecocks that saw action vs. SC State scored at least one point, as junior walk-on Shane Phillips saw his first action of the season and connected on a free throw with one second remaining on the clock for the first point of his career.
The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest ranked No. 2 in both the AP and coaches polls after winning six-straight after the one-point loss at Indiana on Dec. 10 ... Led by an impressive freshmen class, the Wildcats are 14-1 on the year and are 10-0 in games played at Rupp Arena ... Sophomore guard Doron Lamb paces six Wildcats in double figures with 14.9 points per game, while freshman forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist adds 13.9 points per game, and classmate Anthony Davis posts 12.7 points and a team high 10.6 rebounds per contest ... Kentucky's +22.3 scoring margin leads the SEC and ranks among the top three in the nation ... UK's 9.4 blocked shots per game ranks first in the nation.
Kentucky Series Information
- Kentucky holds a 44-10 advantage in the all-time series against South Carolina, including a 23-2 upperhand in games played in Lexington.
- South Carolina swept the season series vs. UK for just the second time (1997) in 2009 under first-year head coach - and Lexington, Ky., native - Darrin Horn.
- South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn won his first three meetings against Kentucky.
- Sophomore guard Bruce Ellington missed just the Dec. 31 men's hoops contest vs. USC Upstate, as he traveled following the Dec. 28 men's basketball contest vs. Wofford to join the Gamecock football team in Orlando for the Capital One Bowl. In the 30-13 South Carolina victory over Nebraska in the Jan. 2 bowl game, Ellington collected 73 yards on kick off returns, including a long of 45 yards. During the football season, Ellington posted 780 all purpose yards, including 106 rushing, 211 receiving and 463 yards on kick returns, and he scored two touchdowns. His first career TD came on a 61-yard rush in a Gamecock victory over Kentucky on Oct. 8.
- South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn is a Lexington, Ky., native, having played his high school hoops at Tates Creek High School. Horn stayed in-state for his college career, playing for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers from 1992-95. Horn was an Academic All-American and an All-Sun Belt Conference honoree during his time at WKU. He spent five years as the head coach of the Hilltopper program prior to his arrival in Columbia. South Carolina assistant coach Cypheus Bunton is also a Kentucky native, hailing from Louisville. Bunton played at Sullivan Junior College before he and Horn were teammates at Western Kentucky.
Flashback - Historic Victory At Rupp
- South Carolina won the first of two contests vs. Kentucky during the 2009 SEC campaign in late January in an historic victory at Rupp Arena. Devan Downey's turnaround jumper with 3 seconds left lifted South Carolina to a 78-77 victory over then-No. 24 Kentucky. Downey had been largely quiet throughout most of the game, failing to score until the final 2 minutes of the first half. But he awoke in a hurry when it counted and finished with 23 points, all but four in the second half. Prior to South Carolina's win at Rupp Arena on Jan. 31, 2009, the Gamecocks had won just ONCE at Rupp Arena in 22 tries. The previous Carolina win in Lexington came during the 1997 campaign.