USC opens SEC play at No. 12 Vanderbilt for the first time in its 17-year SEC history on Wed., Jan. 9
Jan. 8, 2008
South Carolina, 8-6, will travel to one of the hottest surprise teams in the country on Wed., Jan. 9 when it travels to Nashville to open SEC play at No. 12 Vanderbilt - one of the SEC's two undefeated teams (No. 18 Ole Miss is 14-0). The last time Vanderbilt and South Carolina met at the Colonial Center (3/3/07) the two teams set a Colonial Center high for the most points scored in a game with a combined score of 186 when Vandy won in overtime 99-90.
The Carolina-Vanderbilt can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and will also be featured on Sirius Satellite Radio at No. 122. It can also be picked up via the internet at www.gamecocksonline.com.
The Commodores' 15-0 record is their best start in school history. The South Carolina game is the Commodores 10th contest in 11 tries at home as Vanderbilt heads into the SEC opener after a 97-88 victory over UMASS on Jan. 5, having defeated Rice 76-58 on Jan. 3. USC lost to UNC Asheville on Jan. 5 61-58 after defeating Radford 90-63 for Coach Odom's 400th career victory.
The Commodores, with Kevin Stallings in his ninth year at the helm (159-108), are led by senior Shan Foster, who is averaging 21.1 ppg and 5.1 rpg. Freshman phenomenon A.J. Ogilvy is averaging 19.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg. Ogilvy is from Canberra, Australia and was named the SEC Freshman of the Week again this past week.
Not much easier, but ...
The schedule doesn't get any easier when the Chris Lofton-led No. 9 Tennessee Vols come calling on Sat., Jan. 12 for an 8 pm contest on FSN. The Volunteers are 12-1 this season. But, Carolina head coach Dave Odom has a 5-1 record against Tennessee at the Colonial Center including an 81-64 victory over then-Sweet 16 bound Tennessee on Feb. 17, 2006.
The Gamecocks, celebrating 100 seasons of Gamecock basketball this season, will open their SEC schedule at Vanderbilt for the first time in their 17-year SEC history. Advancing to the 2006 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 before falling 66-65 to Final Four participant Georgetown and finishing with a 22-12 record last season, Vandy is one of three SEC teams in the top 15: Tennessee is No. 9 and Ole Miss is No. 15.
Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida are the most popular SEC opponents as conference openers for the Gamecocks as USC has opened against them three times each. USC opened against Mississippi State and Ole Miss twice, but have never opened vs. Vandy, LSU or Arkansas. USC has opened on the road three of the last four years and this is the second straight year opening away with the Gamecocks falling 80-56 on Jan. 10, 2007 at Georgia.
v. Vandy, Odom puts in his two cents
USC leads the overall series 21-19 and the away team has won the last three of four meetings. USC is 7-5 under Odom against Vandy (3-3 in Columbia and 4-2 in Nashville). Under Odom USC has swept the regular season series twice, Vanderbilt swept it for the first time last year and it has been split three times.
Coach Odom made a few of the following comments on the SEC tele-conference Mon., Jan. 7. "We are very excited to be starting SEC play. I know people have said the SEC is down this year, but I think by the eight-game mark they will say it's the same old well-respected SEC with championship caliber teams in it," said Odom. "(A.J.) Ogilvy runs so hard. He moves and catches well. He has great feet and hands. He finishes well inside. He has great presence and knows how to handle the ball inside. They have a great plan for him. Memorial Gymnasium is one of the great college basketball arenas in college basketball. I will tell my team this afternoon this is a great place to play, a great arena - its college basketball at its best."
USC has four players averaging double figures: Devan Downey (18.6), Zam Fredrick (16.0), Dominique Archie at 10.7 and Brandis Raley-Ross at 10.6. Downey leads the team with 5.4 apg and 3.3 spg. Sam Muldrow leads with 1.6 bpg. Archie leads the battle of the boards at 6.3 rpg and Mike Holmes is second at 6.1 rpg.
For the season Downey has a team-high 30 points vs. Penn State on Nov. 22 and Holmes had a team-high 16 rebounds vs. N.C. State on Nov. 23.
Archie (Jan. 2 vs. Radford) and Downey (Nov. 12 vs. The Citadel) both have double-doubles this year. Both have two career double-doubles and Fredrick has one dating back to his days at Georgia Tech (vs. Michigan State).
Raley-Ross down by not out
Brandis Raley-Ross, the nation's three-point percentage leader (65.2%), will be out with a left knee sprain for up to two weeks it was announced on Jan. 1. An MRI revealed no tear and the knee will be re-evaluated this week.
Raley-Ross and Evka Baniulis were shooting in the practice facility on the evening of Dec. 30, a day off. He went up to slam dunk the ball and landed awkwardly.
"It was a baby dunk. Everyone on the team was joking I was trying to dunk over Evka or something," said Raley-Ross.
Raley-Ross is currently leading the nation in three-point percentage (30-46, 65%) and is fourth on the team with 10.6 ppg. He has started nine game this year. If the season ended today, Raley-Ross would break the school record by more than 16 percentage points for three-point % in a single season (48.9% by Brent Price in 1989).
Second only to Jason Richards of Davidson (3.7 spg), Devan Downey is averaging 3.3 spg. The single season school record is held by Chuck Eidson (2.91 spg in 2000). Eidson is No. 2 on the individual season list with 2.46 in 2002.
Eidson holds the career school record with 272 steals for an average of 2.42 spg from 2000-03. Closest to Eidson for the school record during a career: Barry Manning averaged 1.84 spg from 1988-92. Downey is averaging 2.3 spg in his career after averaging 1.91 spg his freshman campaign at Cincinnati.
NCAA, SEC Leaders
As mentioned, Brandis Raley-Ross is the current NCAA leader in the three point percentage and Devan Downey is No. 2 in the nation in steals per game. Downey is No. 44 in assists per game and No. 56 in points per game.
As a team in the NCAA's top 50 team statistics rankings (as of Jan. 6), USC is No. 6 in turnover per game; No. 11 in three-point field goal percentage; No. 16 in assist turnover ratio; No. 34 in personal fouls per game (15.9) and No. 48 in free throw percentage.
Carolina is showing up in a number of SEC statistical categories as well (Tues., Jan. 8). The following are a few:
* The Gamecocks are No. 2 in the SEC in three point field goal % at 41.9%. USC is third in turnover margin at +3.50 and free throw percentage at 73.2%.
* Raley-Ross hit 6 of 7 3's vs. Campbell for a league-best 86% 3 point shooting % (single game). He leads the SEC in three point field goal % at 65.2% (30 of 46). He is No. 6 at 2.5 three-pointers pg.
* Downey is second with 36.0 mpg and is fourth in scoring at 18.6 ppg. He leads the SEC in steals, is third in assists at 5.4 apg and sixth in free throw % at 81.8%.
* Zam Fredrick is third at 35.2 mpg, ninth with 16.0 ppg, seventh in 3 point % at 39.2% and eighth in 3's made (2.2).
Better than last year
At the same point as last season South Carolina is making more than 73% of its free throws (173-220) which is an 8% increase from last year's 65% (164-249). USC made nearly 95% (18-19) of its free throws against Baylor to finish third in the SEC for single game FT %. Downey leads the team and is 7th in the SEC, making 81% of his FT (45-55).
The Gamecocks are making almost 42% of their 3 pt. field goals to rank No. 2 in the SEC (112-267). It is more than an 11% increase from last year's 31% at the same point (92-293).
The Gamecocks are putting more points on the board this year than last. In non-conference play for the 2006-07 season, USC averaged 65 ppg. This season the Gamecocks average 78 ppg, a 13% increase.
80+ and Odom; 90+ After 14 games the Gamecocks are averaging 77.9 points per game and have already scored 80+ points six times this season. Reaching 80+ in its 11th game, it is the soonest under Odom the Gamecocks have reached that tally in five games in a season. In addition, the last time South Carolina had four games of at least 90 + points in non-conference play was the 1995-96 season under then-head coach Eddie Fogler. In contrast, USC only scored under 60 points once this season and lost 58-61 to UNC Asheville Jan. 5.
Zam Fredrick had recorded 9 points in two of his last three games prior to the Radford game, but in the Radford win on Jan. 2 Fredrick had 9 points in the first 9:57 as Fredrick scored 14 of his 26 points in the first half. It was the 11th time this season that he scored in double figures and the fourth time this season that he recorded 20+. The last time he scored 20+ was on Dec. 22, 2007 when he scored 21 against the College of Charleston. He scored a career-high 28 at CU on Dec. 2.
Fredrick totaled a season high 8 assists on the night, only bested by the 10 he had at Michigan State while with Georgia Tech his sophomore year. He has at least 4 assists in 7 games this season. His previous high this season was 7 vs. The Citadel on Nov. 12, 2007. Fredrick went 5 of 10 from beyond the arc, tying his career high.
He tied his season high with the 7 rebounds (7 vs. PSU on Nov. 22, 2007). He has at least 6 rebounds in 5 games this season and has at least 6 in 4 of the last 7 games.
Dominique Archie has at least five rebounds in all but two games this season including 9 games in a row and has at least 7 in 7 games. Archie grabbed 4 of the teams first 6 rebounds vs. Radford and tied his career high of 10 rebounds vs. Lipscomb on Nov. 19, 2006. The 11 points and 10 rebounds gave Archie his second career double-double. (Lipscomb on 11/19/05)
Archie scored in double figures for the sixth time this season including the last 4 games. Archie has shot at least 6 free throws in 4 of the last 5 games. Prior to that stretch, he shot no more than four in a game. he is hitting over 72% of his free throws this season (31-43) as compared to last season when he went 46-70 from the foul line (65.7%).
Archie recorded 2 blocks on the night against Radford. He has at least 2 blocks in three straight games and eight this year.
Notes and more Notes
Carolina has scored 40+ first half points in five home games this season. (SC State, The Citadel, Campbell, Baylor, Radford). Last year USC scored 40+ in only eight halves total. USC also scored 52 in the second half of the C of C game.
The Gamecocks have at least 5 steals in 13 of 14 games this season. After 14 games last season, the Gamecocks had 5+ steals in 4 games.
In six of its games, USC has finished with 9+ steals per game. During its season-high 15 steals vs. The Citadel, Devan Downey lead the charge with a season-high six steals. Raley-Ross added two and Sam Muldrow, Zam Fredrick, Chad Gray, Branden Conrad, Rob Wilder, Dwayne Day and Mike Holmes each picked up a theft.
Carolina has scored 746 points in the eight home games this season for an average of 83 points per game. A Colonial Center record, Carolina scored 103 points in its 103-42 win over The Citadel on Nov. 12.
The Gamecocks have forced double-digit turnovers against every opponent this season except one (9, Southern California). Penn State let the ball fall into Gamecock hands a season-high 21 times, Campbell turned it over 20 times and Radford recently turned it over 18 times. Opponents are turning the ball over an average of 14.5 times a game with USC is averaging 11.0 turnovers a game. USC has turned the ball over 10 times or fewer in six games.
The Gamecocks are averaging almost 14 ppg more than they were last year at this same time. USC is averaging almost 78 ppg and have hit 74+ points in nine games this year. After 14 games last year USC was averaging 64.4 ppg.
Carolina is holding opponents to just 32.5% from three-point range on the year, including The Citadel who shot 3-29 from beyond the arc (10.3%) and Penn State who went 4-25 for a 16% showing. Likewise USC is hitting 42% of its 3 point attempts with Brandis Raley-Ross leading the charge in the SEC at 65% by averaging 2.5 threes per game.
The Gamecocks played four games at two neutral sites this season (three in Orlando at the Old Spice Classic and one in Philadelphia at the Pizza Hut Big East-SEC Challenge). It is the most USC has played on a neutral court early in the season since it played four of its first 7 regular season games in 1998-99 (two in Indianapolis and two in Charlotte).
The Gamecocks have made at least one 3-pointer in 182 consecutive games since they went 0-19 vs. Mississippi State on March 2, 2002 - a 64-57 loss. They have also had at least one block in 100 consecutive games since they went block-less on Jan. 15, 2005 in a 66-63 win vs. Tennessee.