Feb. 19, 2008
USC, 12-12 and 4-6 in the SEC, travels to Gainesville to play the Florida Gators, 19-7 and 6-5 in the SEC, Wed., Feb. 20 at 8 pm. The Gators got the best of the Gamecocks in their last meeting, winning 73-71 on Jan. 23, 2008 in Columbia. The Gators have won four straight vs. USC after the Gamecocks swept the regular season series in 2006, but then fell 49-47 in the SEC Tournament Championship. It was the first year the NIT Champion swept the season series with the NCAA Champion.
It bears repeating that the Gators have won the past two NCAA titles, defeating UCLA in 2006 and Ohio State in 2007, but Florida looks much different this season as it lost 10 players from last year's team and have eight new players on its roster. The Gators are searching for their 20th win to make it 10 straight seasons with 20+ wins.
The South Carolina-Florida game can be seen regionally on Raycom with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley making the call. The game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and will featured on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel No. 121. It can also be picked up via the internet at www.gamecocksonline.com.
USC is 3-0 vs. the SEC Western Division this season after defeating Alabama 67-65 behind Devan Downey's 29 points on Sat., Feb. 16. It is the sixth straight year the home team has won. Downey hit a three and a free throw to seal the win with :14 seconds left on the clock.
Wednesday's opponent wasn't so lucky. Florida's Nick Calathes and Dan Werner both missed potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final seconds as Florida was edged by No. 19 Vanderbilt, 61-58, on Sat. Feb. 16. The Gators have now dropped four out of their last five games.
"Florida provides a difficult match up for us for sure. They lost their last home game to LSU and they are not accustomed to losing at home. Florida is a team that is extremely talented, very good with the ball and very well coached. They have lost some games recently, but they lost at Vandy, who is still undefeated at home this season so there is no shame there. UT is who they are this season. I just finished watching the Florida - LSU game -- there was unbelievable skill and talent in that game.
"We have played some games very close this season. We have won a couple and lost a couple. Who knows what it'll be this time, but I'm sure it'll be a packed house at the O'Connell Center on Wednesday night."
"We aren't equipped to blow anyone out. We aren't turning the ball over as much in SEC play, but the pace at Florida is much faster and we are going to have to work hard not to turn it over because they will press us. We have been able to make up our rebounding deficit by not turning the ball over and throwing it all over the building. You need to play smart. Against Florida you need to pass, handle and shoot the ball well. You can call it a 'guard's game', but I call it a 'players game.'"
Several events during the weekend will be open to the public. On Sat., Feb. 23, the alumni game will begin at 1:30 pm at the Colonial Center. Doors open at 12:30 pm and fans must have a ticket to the Mississippi State game to enter the alumni game. The first 1,500 fans to enter the alumni game will receive a commemorative 100 Years of Gamecock Basketball drinking glass. Following the alumni game there will be an autograph session featuring over 50 former Gamecocks.
The highlight of the weekend will take place at halftime of the Mississippi State game when all the former men's basketball lettermen and coaches will be recognized on the floor.
Less than 1500 tickets remain for the Mississippi State game. Tickets may be purchased on-line at gamecocksonline.com or by calling 1.800.4SC.FANS.
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 has two double-doubles (Jan. 2 vs. Radford, Jan. 23 vs. Florida) and Downey has one (Nov. 12 vs. The Citadel). Career-wise, Archie has three, Downey has two career double-doubles and Fredrick has one dating back to his days at Georgia Tech.
USC is 6-1 when scoring 80+ with a high water mark of 103 points vs. The Citadel on Nov. 12. On the flip side, USC is 1-6 when the opponent scores 80+.
USC has forced double-digit turnovers against every opponent this season except two (9 against both Southern California and Florida). and is currently No. 6 in the country in turnovers. Penn State let the ball fall into Gamecock hands a season-high 21 times, Campbell turned it over 20 times, Arkansas fumbled it 19 times and Radford and Alabama turned it over 18 times. Opponents are turning the ball over an average of 14.3 times a game with USC is averaging just 10.8 turnovers a game.
USC has turned the ball over 10 times or fewer in 13 games, including the last five of the last six games (6 vs. Alabama; 9 at UK, vs. UGA and vs. Vandy; 10 at UGA; and 12 at Ole Miss). South Carolina is second in the SEC in overall games in turnover margin (+3.54) and second in SEC games as well (+3.60).
Helping out with turnovers, the Gamecocks stole the ball 14 times from the Crimson Tide. USC is third in the SEC in league games with 7.8 spg.
Just a second
Downey is averaging a team-leading 19.8 ppg, 5.2 apg and 3.4 spg with 36.9 mpg starting all 24 games. He has 16 3+ steal games this season and scored 20+ points 13 times - including 8 of 10 SEC games. Not just leading the team in scoring, Downey has tallied 17 4+ assist games this season.
Most recently, he scored game-high 29 points (career-best 6 3 pointers), tying career-best with 7 steals in win over Alabama. His three-pointer + one made free throw with :14 on the block sealed the 67-65 win.
Starting with Dominique
Archie has quite a mountain to climb to set the school record owned by BJ McKie (1995-98) and Melvin Watson (1995-98). They both started 116 games during their careers.
After collecting 8.8 ppg and 5.0 his freshman year, Archie's ppg are up almost two points and he is grabbing an additional rebound each game. He was named to the All-SEC Freshman team last year for his efforts.
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