The South Carolina men's basketball team (9-12, 1-6 SEC) returns to Colonial Life Arena on Saturday to host No. 1/1 Kentucky (22-1, 8-0) in a Southeastern Conference matchup set to begin at 6 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN with Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes on the call. Academy Sports is the game sponsor for the game vs. Kentucky.
OPENING TIP Date: Saturday, February 4, 2012 Tipoff: 6 p.m. ET Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Series: Kentucky leads 45-10 Television: ESPN (check local listings) Talent: Brad Nessler (pxp), Jimmy Dykes (analyst) Radio: Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst)
Gamecock Radio Network
Carolina Quick Hits
- South Carolina is in its 104th season of basketball.
- The Gamecocks are in their 21st season of competition in the Southeastern Conference in 2012. Carolina owns a 128-199 all-time record in SEC play.
- South Carolina was unable to overcome a first-half double-digit deficit in a 74-66 loss at No. 12/11 Florida on Thursday night in Gainesville. Sophomore forward Damontre Harris had an impressive night, matching a career high with six blocks, while adding 12 points and a team-best nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Bruce Ellington led Carolina with 15 points.
- South Carolina will play its second No. 1 ranked opponent when top-ranked Kentucky visits Colonial Life Arena on Saturday, as the Gamecocks faced then-No. 1 North Carolina earlier this season in Las Vegas competing in the Las Vegas Invitational.
- Saturday's contest against the Wildcats marks the 10th time the Gamecocks will play the AP No. 1 in its history, and the third time in the last three seasons. South Carolina is 1-8 all-time vs. the AP No. 1. The last time South Carolina faced the top-ranked team the Gamecocks suffered an 87-62 loss to North Carolina on Nov. 25, 2011.
- The Gamecocks have faced Kentucky on two previous occassions when the Wildcats were ranked No. 1, going 1-1 in those contests, with the most recent the historic 68-62 victory vs. UK on Jan. 26, 2010, in Columbia.
- South Carolina's contest vs. Kentucky is the lone home contest in the midst of four out of five on the road for the Gamecocks. The stretch started at Ole Miss last Saturday, at Florida just two days ago, and then at Tennessee and Arkansas next week.
- In the SEC statistical standings South Carolina ranks first in rebounding defense (32.1), tied for third in steals per game (7.2), fourth in turnover margin (+1.3) and is third in the SEC in offensive rebounding (12.8).
- In strictly SEC games, South Carolina collects 7.6 steals per contest, which ranks second in the league.
- The Gamecocks have out-rebounded 12 of 21 opponents this season, including North Carolina, who leads the nation in rebounding margin at +11.8, and Kentucky, who ranks 12th in the category and leads the SEC with a +7.7 mark (as of Feb. 3 NCAA stats).
- Senior forward Malik Cooke ranks tied for third in the SEC (all games) with 2.0 steals per game.
- Darrin Horn-led teams are 79-54 all-time in league play.
- South Carolina ranks fifth in the SEC and is among the nation's top 40 with 5.0 blocks per game. Sophomore forward Damontre Harris ranks 33rd with 2.3 blocks per game, which is fifth in the SEC.
- In games it has won in 2011-12, South Carolina holds a +11.9 scoring margin over its opponents. To compare, in games it has lost, Gamecock opponents score 9.4 more points per game.
- South Carolina is 429-434-1 all-time in the month of February.
- South Carolina has scored more points in the paint than its opponent 11 times, and has scored more points off turnovers 13 times this season. The Gamecocks average 27.3 points in the paint and average 15.3 points off turnovers per contest.
- When South Carolina played then-No. 2 Kentucky on Jan. 7, it marked the third top-two opponent the Gamecocks faced this season, as the squad had previously played then-No. 1 North Carolina and then-No. 2 Ohio State. Those three teams have an average RPI of 6.7, with Kentucky the highest at 5 (as of Jan. 30 RPI report).
By The Numbers 6 - Sophomore forward Damontre Harris put up All-SEC type numbers against No. 12/11 Florida on Thursday. He matched a career high with six blocks - the second time in the last four games he has hit the mark - he set a career high with three steals, he matched a career best with 37 minutes played, and he nearly collected his second-career double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds vs. the Gators. Over the course of the last five games, Harris is averaging 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. 25.0 - South Carolina held Florida to its lowest percentage of the season from beyond the arc on Thursday. The Gators shot well in the first half, hitting 6-of-15 attempts, but struggled in the second half, hitting just one of 13 attempts. It also matched a season low for made 3s in a contest for Florida, which entered the game leading the nation with 10.6 made 3s per game. 28 - South Carolina's 28 fouls vs. Florida marked a season high, which resulted in an opponent season-high 32 free throw attempts for the Gators. 44.6% - Carolina's 44.6 percent (25-56) from the floor vs. Florida marked an SEC season high for the Gamecocks in the category. 11 -Damontre Harris has blocked at least two shots in 11 games this season.
The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest on a 14-game winning streak with an overall record of 22-1, including an 8-0 mark in SEC games ... The Wildcats are 4-1 in road games this season, with the lone loss at Indiana on Dec. 10 ... Five Wildcats average double-figure points on the season, led by Anthony Davis' 13.5 points per game ... Davis also leads the team with 10.2 rebounds per contest (second in the SEC), and leads the nation with 4.7 blocks per outing ... UK is averaging 48.5 percent from the field, while its opponents hit just 36.0 percent ... 78.7% of Kentucky's points come from two-point field goals and free throws ... Kentucky's +19.9 scoring margin leads the SEC, and is second in the nation to only Ohio State's +21.7.
Kentucky Series Information
- Kentucky holds a 45-10 advantage in the all-time series against South Carolina, including a 19-6 upperhand in games played in Columbia.
- 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.
South Carolina continues SEC play next week with two road contests, the first at Tennessee on Wednesday, before traveling to Arkansas for a 1:30 p.m. ET matchup next Saturday. It will mark the first time the Gamecocks have played either opponent this season.