Jan. 11, 2008
South Carolina, 8-7, opens SEC play at home when it hosts No. 8 Tennessee, 13-1, on Sat., Jan. 12 at 8 pm. It is the 50th meeting between the two schools with the Gamecocks winning the first meeting 39-24 on Jan. 15, 1926. Tennessee (64-61, Jan. 16, 2007) and South Carolina (81-64, Feb. 17, 2007) both won at home last year and split the season series.
South Carolina is 6-10 in SEC season home openers. It has opened vs. Kentucky five times and Florida four times. South Carolina has used six different line-ups this season with Dominique Archie, Zam Fredrick and Devan Downey starting every game. Archie has started every game of his Gamecock career thus far (45).
This past Wednesday South Carolina fell on the road at No. 12 Vanderbilt 80-73 as Tennessee had to mount a comeback the last few minutes to defeat No. 15 Ole Miss the same night in Knoxville. The two teams have one common opponent in non-conference play: UNC Asheville (USC lost, UT won).
The Carolina-Tennessee will be shown on FSN reginoally and can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and will also be featured on Sirius Satellite Radio at No. 130. It can also be picked up via the internet at www.gamecocksonline.com and is a part of ESPN's FullCourt package.
In recent past UT won the season series in 2006 (76-69 in Columbia on 1/8/06 and 81-65 in Knoxville on 1/28/06), but USC got the best of the Volunteers in the SEC Tournament quarter-finals, coming away with a 79-61 victory behind Tre' Kelley's 25 points. South Carolina went on to defeat Kentucky the next day only to fall to eventual NCAA champion Florida 49-47 in the SEC Tournament final.
Not much easier, but ...
The schedule doesn't get any easier when National Player of the Year candidate Chris Lofton and the No. 8 Tennessee Vols come calling on Saturday. 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, 2007. USC was led by Tre' Kelley's 25 points and 5 assists and Brandon Wallace's 4 blocked shots.
Something will have to give on Saturday night as South Carolina and Tennessee are giving up about the same amount of points each game (USC, 69.3; UT, 69.6). UT leads the SEC in scoring with 87.2 ppg to USC's 77.6 ppg. South Carolina is 5-1 this year when it scores 80+, but 1-4 when the other team scores 80+.
"Tennessee is one of the top teams in the country in scoring offense and also forcing turnovers," said USC head coach Dave Odom on the SEC teleconference on Thursday. "Bruce Pearl has carved out a unique style for his team and they are primed to do great things both in the SEC and nationally.
"We gave a really fine effort at Vanderbilt. We made some mental errors defensively that gave them a few shots they shouldn't have been able to make. We need to do all the things good teams do to protect the basketball. I look forward to the game on Saturday and I'm sure my team does as well."
USC has three players averaging double figures: Devan Downey (18.8), Zam Fredrick (16.3) and Dominique Archie (10.1). Brandis Raley-Ross is close at 9.8 ppg. Downey leads the team with 5.5 apg and 3.4 spg. Sam Muldrow leads with 1.6 bpg. Mike Holmes leads the battle of the boards at 6.2 rpg and Archie 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). On deck
South Carolina travels to Arkansas for a Wed., Jan. 16 contest with the Razorbacks. The game will not be televised. Sonny Weems and Patrick Beverly scored 17 points apiece and Arkansas won at Auburn 76-70 on Thurs., Jan. 10. The Razorbacks, 12-3, will play three SEC games in less than a week as Arkansas hosts Alabama on Sun., Jan. 13 before the Gamecocks come in Wednesday.
Arkansas and South Carolina have three common opponents in Baylor (USC lost, Arkansas won), Providence (USC won, Arkansas lost) and College of Charleston (both USC and Arkansas won).
Brandis Raley-Ross, the SEC's three-point percentage leader (65.2%), played nine minutes at Vandy for his first action in two weeks, but did not score. He has been out with a left knee sprain since Dec. 29. Raley-Ross and Evka Baniulis were shooting in the practice facility on the evening of Dec. 29, 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 SEC in three-point percentage (30-46, 65%) and is fourth on the team with 9.8 ppg. He has started nine games this year. If the season ended today, Raley-Ross would break the school record by more than 16 % for three-point % in a single season (48.9% by Brent Price in 1989).
In the NCAA rankings this week, Devan Downey is second only to Jason Richards of Davidson in steals per game (3.7 spg as of Jan. 6). After picking up five pockets at Vandy, Downey is averaging 3.4 spg The single season school record is held by Chuck Eidson (2.91 spg in 2000). Eidson is also 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 2.4 spg in his career after averaging 1.91 spg his freshman campaign at Cincinnati.
South Carolina is making more than 74% of its free throws (165-224) which is an 8% increase from last year's 66% (172-262) at the 15-game mark. 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 fifth in the SEC, making 83% of his FT (49-59).
The Gamecocks are making over 41% of their 3 pt. field goals to rank No. 2 in the SEC. It is more than an 10% increase from last year's 31% at the same point (98-311). With the improved three-point shooting, the Gamecocks are putting more points on the board this year than last. This season the Gamecocks averaged 78 ppg, a 13% increase (last year USC averaged 65 ppg).
Devan Downey is No. 2 in the nation in steals per game (NCAA, Fri., Jan. 11). Downey is No. 37 in assists per game, No. 48 in points per game and No. 91 in free throw percentage.
Brandis Raley-Ross has the highest three point percentage in the country, but needs 2.6 3s per game to be the nation's leader and he currently has 2.3.
As a team in the NCAA's top 55 team statistics rankings (NCAA, Jan. 11), USC is No. 6 in turnovers per game; No. 19 in three-point field goal percentage; No. 15 in assist turnover ratio; No. 38 in personal fouls per game, No. 41 in free throw percentag and No. 54 in scoring offense.
Carolina is showing up in a number of SEC statistical categories as well (Thurs., Jan. 10). The following are a few:
* The Gamecocks are No. 2 in the SEC in three point field goal % at 41.1% and No. 4 in 3 point field goals made (8.2). USC is third in turnover margin at +3.73 and free throw percentage at 73.7%.
* 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. 7 at 2.3 three-pointers pg.
* Downey is second with 36.1 mpg and is fourth in scoring at 18.8 ppg. He leads the SEC in steals, is second in assists at 5.5 apg and fifth in free throw % at 83.1%.
* Zam Fredrick is third at 35.2 mpg, ninth with 16.3 ppg, sixth in 3 point % at 40% and eighth in 3's made (2.3).
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