Gamecocks host Mississippi State on Sat., Feb. 23 as part of 100 Years of Basketball Celebration
Remember Gamecock fans to vote for Devan Downey at www.COUSYAWARD.COM
 
Remember Gamecock fans to vote for Devan Downey at www.COUSYAWARD.COM

Feb. 21, 2008

 
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Chick-fil-A SEC Basketball Legends Release 

Welcome back former players, coaches and staff for the Gamecocks' 100 Year Celebration of Basketball this weekend! Around 1000 tickets remain for the Mississippi State game!

South Carolina, 12-13 and 4-7 in the SEC, hosts Western Division leader Mississippi State, 17-8 and 8-3 in the SEC, on Sat., Feb. 23 at 4 pm. South Carolina, winners of the last two match-ups, won in Starkville last year by a tally of 66-63 on Jan. 27, 2007. First-team All-SEC guard Tre' Kelley's scored 23 points and Brandon Wallace's tacked together a double-double (16 boards, 10 points).

The South Carolina-Mississippi State game can be seen regionally on Raycom with Joe Dean 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. 127. 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. MSU is on top of the SEC Western Division at 8-3 and are 2-1 vs. the SEC Eastern Division this season. They are playing their second of four out of four on the road in Columbia Saturday.

Both teams were defeated on the opponents floor on Wed., Feb. 20. South Carolina fell in the last couple seconds at Florida, 85-82. Both Devan Downey and Evka Baniulis scored 18 points each with Baniulis hitting a career-best 6 of 8 from the 3 point line. USC hit 50% of its shot and finished with one more rebound than Florida (33-32). It was the first time the Gamecocks have out-rebounded the Gators since they collected 32 to UF's 31 in the 2006 SEC title game.

The Bulldogs weren't so lucky in their second meeting with Ole Miss on Wednesday night as they lost 74-63 in Oxford despite Jamont Gordon's 20 points. MSU shot just 38.3% to Ole Miss' 43.9%. The Bulldogs are 8-2 vs. the SEC Western Division where only MSU and Arkansas (7-4) sport winning records.

Special Weekend

South Carolina will celebrate 100 Years of Basketball with a weekend full of events for former players and fans this weekend, including the Mississippi State game at 4 pm on Sat., Feb. 23. Over 130 former players and coaches will attend the weekend-long celebration.

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.

Us vs. Them

Mississippi State leads the series record 10-8. The two only began play with each other in 1992 - the year USC joined the league. A few things about the rivalry:

First Meeting: Jan. 26, 1992 (57-60 in Columbia)

Last Meeting: Feb. 24, 2007 (76-63 in Starkville)

Last 5 Meetings: 3-2

Last 10 Meetings: 5-5

Leading

South Carolina has three players averaging double figures: Devan Downey (19.7), Zam Fredrick (15.2) and Dominique Archie (11.0). Downey leads the team with 5. apg and 3.3 spg. Sam Muldrow leads with 1.4 bpg. Archie leads the team with 6.0 rpg and Mike Holmes is second at 4.8 rpg. Brandis Raley-Ross is hitting a team-high 55.9% of his three pointers (33-59) and Downey is knocking down a team-high 76.2% of his free throws (79-104).

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.

On fire we hope

Evka Baniulis hit a career-best six of eight three-pointers in the 85-82 loss at Florida on Wednesday. He scored 18 points, just off his career-best of 21 vs. Auburn last season. He was 1-7 in the past two games from the three-point line after hitting 5 of 5 vs. Vanderbilt.

Baniulis is averaging 8.4 ppg in SEC games and 5.4 ppg in overall games starting nine of the 23 games he's played in this season.

Oddly enough, Baniulis is yet to shoot a free throw this season. He was 15 of 26 last season (57.7%) last season, including 8 of 14 (57.1%) in SEC play. If the season ended today, he would be the first Gamecock player who started at least one game to not attempt a free throw since USC joined the SEC. There were others who did not, but they played less than 10 minutes the entire season (mostly walk-ons).

First time since 2003

Freshman Mike Holmes picked up his first career double-double at Florida when he scored a career-best 16 points with 11 rebounds. He is the first true freshman to finish with a double-double. The last was Brandon Wallace when he started in the 70-38 win at The Citadel on Dec. 3, 2003 and scored 10 points with 11 boards.

Holmes was the second Gamecock to collect a double-double vs. the Gators this season as Dominique Archie scored 14 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds in the 73-71 loss to Florida on Jan. 23.

In addition to Holmes, 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.

Turnovers, Steals

The Gamecocks turned the ball over a season-low six times vs. Alabama compared to the Tide's own 18 turnovers. It was the fewest number of turnovers for the Gamecocks since they lost it five times in their 80-75 loss to Auburn on Jan. 31, 2007. In the latest NCAA stats, USC was No. 6 in the country in turnovers (Mon., Feb. 18).

USC has forced double-digit turnovers against every opponent this season except two (9 against both vs. Southern California and vs. Florida). 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 14 games, including the last six of the last seven games (6 vs. Alabama; 9 at UK, vs. UGA and vs. Vandy; 10 at UGA and at UF; and 12 at Ole Miss). South Carolina is second in the SEC in overall games in turnover margin (+3.52) and leads the SEC in turnover margin (+3.55).

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 7.7 spg.

Keep it up

Leading the SEC in steals, with 3.3 overall, and more importantly in scoring, with 21.2 ppg in league games and 19.7 ppg in all games, Devan Downey, a Cousy finalist, enters the MSU game second in the country in steals after tying his career-best with seven steals vs. the Tide. He is also second in the SEC in assists and minutes played as well.

Downey is averaging a team-leading 19.7 ppg, 5.2 apg and 3.3 spg with 36.9 mpg starting all 25 games. He has 16 3+ steal games this season and scored 20+ points 13 times - including 8 of 11 SEC games. Not just leading the team in scoring, Downey has tallied 18 4+ assist games this season.

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

Dominique Archie has started every game in his career - 55 straight - including 30 last season and 25 this year. He needs two more straight starts to match former All-SEC forward Marius Petravicius. Petravicius, a native of Kltenenu, Lithuania, started all 32 games his freshman year and only missed one start - game No. 26 vs. Tennessee (Feb. 27, 2001) - his sophomore year to start 61 of the team's 62 games his first two seasons.

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 more than two points (11.0 ppg) and he is grabbing an additional rebound each game (6.0 rpg). He was named to the All-SEC Freshman team last year for his efforts.