Gamecock Basketball hosts Florida on Wed., Jan. 23 at 8 pm|
Jan. 22, 2008
With a week off to prepare for two-time defending NCAA champion Florida, South Carolina, 9-8, will host the Gators, 16-3, on Wed., Jan. 23 at 8 pm in a regionally-televised game on Raycom (Larry Conley, Tom Hammond). The game will also be featured on the ESPN's FullCourt package nation-wide. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and will also be featured on Sirius Satellite Radio at No. 158. It can also be picked up via the internet at www.gamecocksonline.com.
South Carolina will hit the road to play at Kentucky on Sat., Jan. 26 in a 1 pm game, also televised by Raycom (Larry Conley, Dave Baker). Kentucky, 7-9 and 1-2 in the SEC, hosts No. 3 Tennessee Tues., Jan. 22 on ESPN.
Not your normal off week
It was a busy week off for the Gamecocks after their win at Arkansas as Carolina head coach Dave Odom announced in front of an over-flowing room on Fri., Jan. 18 that he will retire at the end of the season. The Gators, while they won the last two NCAA titles and SEC Tournament titles, look A LOT DIFFERENT this season as they lost 10 players from last year's team and have eight new players on their roster. But obviously the diaper dandies are adapting well as all five starters are averaging double figures in SEC play for UF.
Both teams won their last game as the Gamecocks defeated Arkansas in Fayetteville on Wed., Jan. 16, 70-66 behind Devan Downey's 28 points - including hitting 9 of 11 free throws - and collecting six steals. The Gators took an extra five minutes to finish off the Kentucky Wildcats Sat., Jan. 19 on ESPN, 81-70. It was the Gators first overtime victory at home since Feb. 4, 1998 and was the Gators seventh straight win over UK - the first SEC team to hold such a streak in conference history. Florida and South Carolina have no common opponents this season. South Carolina has used seven 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 (47). Downey has scored 20+ in the last four of five games, including 24 vs. then-No. 8 UT and 28 in the win at UA.
Chester native Devan Downey sat the bench last year as a transfer from Cincinnati, where he made the All Big-East Freshman team, and watched All-SEC first-teamer Tre' Kelley lead the league in scoring, playing against Kelley on the scout team all season. Downey credits Kelley often for helping him improve his overall game.
Prior to the 2007-08 season, Rivals.com named Downey the top impact transfer in the country. He was also a Cousy Award nominee. So far Downey is living up to his billing. Leading the SEC in scoring in SEC games (24.7 ppg to Marcus Thorton's 22.8 ppg at LSU) and second only to Shan Foster by a half-a-point (Foster has 20.1 ppg and Downey has 19.6 ppg) in all games - Downey has started and scored double figures every game this season. He has scored 20+ in eight games, including the last three straight.
Downey leads the SEC in steals and second in the country with 3.5 spg. He is playing the second most minutes in the league and is third in assists.
Don't overlook either
Playing the No. 2 spot, Zam Fredrick is also turning heads. Fredrick has scored double figures in 15 of 17 games this season - hitting nine in the other two contests.
Fredrick is second on the team in three-point percentage (38.6%) behind Brandis Raley Ross (62.5%). He is averaging a very-respectable 3.6 apg while scoring 15.9 ppg.
Fredrick's name sounds familiar in these parts for a reason - father Zam Fredrick led the nation in scoring in 1981 when he hit 28.9 ppg his senior year. Father Fredrick scored 1,383 points during his four-year career, averaging 13.7 ppg in 101 games. He is currently No. 15 on the all-time scorers list. The Calhoun County boys' basketball team, led by Father Fredrick, who has 474 career wins as a high school coach, enters Tuesday's game (Jan. 22) at Wagener-Salley having won a modern-era S.C. High School League record 61 consecutive games. With five more wins, the Saints can surpass the all-time mark of 65 set by Hannah from 1957-60.
USC has three players averaging double figures: Devan Downey (19.6), Zam Fredrick (15.2) and Dominique Archie (10.2). Downey leads the team with 5.1 apg and 3.5 spg. Sam Muldrow leads with 1.9 bpg. Archie leads the team with 6.1 rpg and Mike Holmes is second at 5.5 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).
USC is 5-1 when scoring 80+ with a high water mark of 103 points vs. The Citadel on Nov. 12. On the flip side, USC is 1-5 when the opponent scores 80+.
Almost the leader
In the current NCAA rankings, Devan Downey is second only to Lester Hudson of UT-Martin in steals per game (3.5 spg as of Jan. 17). After picking up five pockets at Vandy and then six at Arkansas, Downey is averaging 3.5 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 2.7 spg in his career after averaging 1.91 spg his freshman campaign at Cincinnati.
Free Throws, Field
USC is making more than 73% of its free throws (190-261) which is a nine percent increase from last year's 64% (186-289) at the 17-game mark. USC made nearly 95% (18-19) of its free throws against Baylor to finish third in the SEC for single game FT %.
The Gamecocks are making almost 40% of their 3 pt. field goals to rank No. 2 in the SEC. It is almost a nine percent increase from last year's 31% at the same point (115-362). 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 vs. non-conference competition, a 13% increase (last year USC averaged 65 ppg).
Wondering where all of South Carolina's Mr. Basketball's are playing college ball? Look no further than the University of South Carolina. Zam Fredrick was Mr. Basketball in 2004, Devan Downey was Mr. Basketball in 2005 and Mike Holmes was Mr. Basketball in 2007. Mr. Basketball 2003, Brandon Wallace (at USC from 2003-07), broke USC's career blocks record and games played record before moving onto the NBA's Boston Celtics this year.
Devan Downey is No. 2 in the nation in steals per game (NCAA, Thur., Jan. 17). Downey is No. 38 in points per game and No. 56 in assists per game.
Sam Muldrow is No. 60 in the nation with blocks (1.9 bpg). Brandis Raley-Ross has one of 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 3pg so he is not ranked. He leads the SEC at 62.5% from beyond the arc.
As a team in the NCAA's top 50 team statistics rankings (NCAA, Jan. 17), USC is No. 7 in turnovers per game; No. 24 in three-point field goal percentage; No. 25 in assist turnover ratio; and No. 42 in personal fouls per game.
Carolina is showing up in a number of SEC statistical categories as well (Mon., Jan. 21). The following are a few:
* The Gamecocks are No. 2 in the SEC in three point field goal % at 40% and No. 4 in 3 point field goals made (8.0). USC is third in turnover margin at +3.53 and free throw percentage at 72.8%.
* 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 62.5% (30 of 48). He is No. 11 at 2.0 three-pointers pg.
* Downey is second with 36.4 mpg and is second in scoring at 19.6 ppg. He leads the SEC in steals, is third in assists at 5.1 apg and sixth in free throw % at 80.5%.
* Zam Fredrick is third at 35.3 mpg, 10th with 15.9 ppg, seventh in 3 point % at 39% and eighth in 3's made (2.3).
South Carolina's Odom talks Florida
South Carolina head coach Dave Odom spoke to the media on Tuesday prior to the Florida game on Wed., Jan. 23 (8 pm on Raycom). The following are some of his comments followed by a few media questions.
"In Florida we are playing the fastest improving team in our league and maybe the nation. Like our team, they have the most new parts to put together. We have four new starters and they have five. Billy (Donovan) has done a masterful job of captaining the ship and keeping it on course. He has corralled together a really fine group of highly skilled players. The Florida team this year, though young, is much in the same mold as every team I have played since I have been here from Florida. They have an outstanding young freshmen class.
"Because we can play big or play small, perhaps we can defend pretty well out on the perimeter and keep them in check. You have to play the possession quickly because they execute really fast. We have to really hang in there and be ready early. We have to be ready to answer their quickness with more of their own.
"Our team has done fine since Friday. We had an excellent day on Friday - maybe they were celebrating (laughs and smiles)? Saturday morning we practiced early. I wanted to give them a long weekend so that practice was less than I hoped it would be. If we are going to beat Florida tomorrow they will have to play well. I am going to challenge them to have a great practice today. They are a team that comes at you with all different sorts of sets and we have to think together and play together. We have to make sure we spend time on our offense as well. I think our team will respond well and I am sure our fans will respond equally well against a really good Florida team. I want them to come support our team and come see our team play. I want to challenge our fans to be part of the entertainment and not just be entertained. Our team has to play well, but our fans have to be excited from the outset and help them get excited. That is my fondest hope and it that happens we will all go home happy."
How do you think the fans will react?
How have you been since Friday?
What are you going to do without basketball?
What about your players?