The South Carolina men's basketball team (10-15, 2-9 SEC) will host visiting LSU (15-10, 5-6 SEC) on Saturday in SEC action at Colonial Life Arena. Tip time for the contest is set for 1:47 p.m. on the SEC Network, following the Network's preview show.
OPENING TIP Date: Saturday, February 18, 2012 Tipoff: 1:47 p.m. ET Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Series: South Carolina leads 14-11 Television: SEC Network (check local listings) Talent: Dave LaMont (pxp), Kara Lawson (analyst) Radio: Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst)
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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 129-202 all-time record in SEC play.
- Playing just its fifth home game of the SEC season on Wednesday, the Gamecocks earned a thrilling 57-56 victory over visiting Georgia on a jumper by senior forward Malik Cooke with just 20 seconds remaining in the contest. Cooke led Carolina with 13 points in the win. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for South Carolina.
- Cooke needs just six points to reach the 1,000 point plateau for his career, which includes two seasons at Nevada. To date, Cooke has scored 587 points as a Gamecock, including 304 this season to pace the team.
- South Carolina's 93.3 percent (14-15) from the free throw line vs. Georgia marked the best percentage under the direction of Darrin Horn for games where South Carolina had at least 10 attempts from the charity stripe.
- The Gamecocks will play three of the last five games of the regular season in Columbia.
- In strictly SEC games, South Carolina ranks third in the SEC in steals (6.7) and blocks (4.5) per game.
- The Gamecocks had one of the toughest starts to SEC play this season, as the squad played Kentucky (currently 1st in the SEC) and Florida (second in the SEC) twice, and Vanderbilt (third in the SEC) once, in the first eight games of the league season.
- In the SEC statistical standings South Carolina ranks second in rebounding defense (32.8), fifth in steals per game (6.9), fifth in turnover margin (+1.0) and is third in the SEC in offensive rebounding (12.8).
- Senior forward Malik Cooke ranks fourth in the SEC (all games) with 1.8 steals per game.
- Darrin Horn-led teams are 80-57 all-time in league play.
- South Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC and is among the nation's top 30 with 5.1 blocks per game. Sophomore forward Damontre Harris ranks 33rd nationally with 2.4 blocks per game, which is fifth in the SEC.
- In games it has won in 2011-12, South Carolina holds a +10.8 scoring margin over its opponents. To compare, in games it has lost, Gamecock opponents score 11.3 more points per game.
- South Carolina is 430-437-1 all-time in the month of February.
- South Carolina has scored more points in the paint than its opponent 12 times, and has scored more points off turnovers 14 times this season. The Gamecocks average 25.9 points in the paint and average 14.9 points off turnovers per contest.
- When South Carolina played No. 1 Kentucky on Feb. 4, it marked the fourth top-two opponent the Gamecocks faced this season, as the squad had previously played then-No. 1 North Carolina, then-No. 2 Ohio State and the Wildcats when they were ranked No. 2 in early January. Those three teams have an average RPI of 5.3, with Ohio State the highest at 4 (as of Feb. 6 RPI report).
By The Numbers 8 in 1 - With 3:05 remaining in the first half vs. Georgia, sophomore guard Brenton Williams single-handidly gave South Carolina a five point advantage, hitting a jumper and two 3s on consecutive possessions in just a one minute, two second span. Williams scored 10 points off the bench vs. the Bulldogs, marking the sixth game in a row where Williams had led the Carolina bench in scoring. 5-of-5 - Freshman forward Anthony Gill was instrumental in South Carolina's victory vs. Georgia on Wednesday. The Charlotte, N.C., native was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line, and collected six rebounds. Gill had struggled of late from the line, hitting just seven of his last 18 attempts (38.9%) over the course of the last five games. Gill's free throws with 2:35 on the clock on Wednesday broke the 10th tie of the game, and helped propel the Gamecocks to victory. 5 - Sophomore forward Damontre Harris blocked five shots vs. Georgia on Wednesday, it marked the sixth game this season in which Harris has blocked at least five shots. Harris blocked two of those shots in the final five minutes of play, including his final one of the night with 16 seconds remaining on a layup attempt by UGA's Robinson to preserve the Carolina lead. Harris was also the team leader with eight rebounds in the victory. 3 - Freshman guard Damien Leonard hit just one shot vs. Georgia, but it was a huge 3 with just over three minutes to play in the game. The shot broke one of 10 ties in the contest, giving the Gamecocks a 53-50 upperhand with 3:11 remaining.
LSU has won two-straight and three of its last four entering Saturday's game in Columbia ... The Tigers most recently earned a 69-67 overtime victory vs. No. 23 Mississippi State on Tuesday after trailing by as many as 17 points ... Junior center Justin Hamilton paces the squad with 13.7 points per game, while his 7.3 rebounds per outing are also a team best ... Sophomore guard Andre Stringer adds 10.2 points per outing ... LSU has not won an SEC game on the road this season, but the Tigers did win three non-conference contests on the road - at Houston, at Rutgers and at North Texas.
LSU Series Information
- South Carolina owns a 14-11 upperhand in the all-time series vs. LSU, including a 6-5 advantage in games played in Columbia.
- South Carolina's longest winning streak in the series was six games dating from March 1, 1995 through Jan. 10, 1998.
- The Gamecocks have won three of the last four games vs. the Tigers.
South Carolina travels to Vanderbilt next Wednesday for an 8 p.m. ET contest against the Commodores. The game will mark the second this season for the two squads, as Vandy earned a 67-57 win earlier this season in Columbia. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
This year South Carolina athletics launched the Active Gamecocks program, which is a statewide initiative to combat increasing problems in childhood obesity. In its first segment, over 3,400 students from 62 schools and organizations participated. Representatives from Burton-Pack Elementary School, which had 291 participants, will be honored at halftime of Saturday's contest.