The South Carolina men's basketball team (10-17, 2-11 SEC) will host Tennessee (15-13, 7-6 SEC) on Saturday evening in a game set to begin at 8 p.m. ET on FSN with Dave Neal and Mike Glenn on the call.
OPENING TIP Date: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Tipoff: 8 p.m. ET Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Series: Tennessee leads 36-23 Television: FSN (check local listings) Talent: Dave Neal (pxp), Mike Glenn (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 129-204 all-time record in SEC play.
- South Carolina returns to Colonial Life Arena to host Tennessee on Saturday. The Gamecocks suffered a 69-57 loss in Knoxville in the first meeting of the season between the two schools just two weeks ago. Sophomore guard Bruce Ellington led the Gamecocks with 12 points in the contest, while Brenton Williams and Damien Leonard both added 11.
- Following Saturday's game vs. UT, the Gamecocks will conclude the regular season hosting Mississippi State on Senior Night on Feb. 29, before traveling to Georgia on March 3 for the regular-season finale.
- The Gamecocks suffered a 59-48 loss at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Both team's struggled offensively, as Carolina hit just 32.7 percent (18-55) and the Commodores just 38.5% (15-39). The story of the game was free throws, as Vandy attempted 28 in the game, compared to just four attempts by Carolina.
- In strictly SEC games, South Carolina ranks third in the SEC in steals (6.5) 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 for overall games South Carolina ranks second in rebounding defense (32.9), fifth in steals per game (6.8), fifth in turnover margin (+1.2) and is fourth in the SEC in offensive rebounding (12.4).
- Senior forward Malik Cooke ranks fourth in the SEC (all games) with 1.7 steals per game.
- South Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC and is among the nation's top 30 with 5.0 blocks per game. Sophomore forward Damontre Harris ranks 29th nationally with 2.4 blocks per game, which is tied for second 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 11.2 more points per game.
- South Carolina is 430-439-1 all-time in the month of February.
- South Carolina has scored more points in the paint than its opponent 13 times, and has scored more points off turnovers 15 times this season. The Gamecocks average 25.5 points in the paint and average 14.7 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 Kentucky the highest at 4 (as of Feb. 20 RPI report).
By The Numbers 11.6 - Over the course of the last five games, senior forward Malik Cooke paces South Carolina with 11.6 points per game. Sophomore forward Damontre Harris' 6.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game are team highs during the stretch. 25.0% - South Carolina held Vanderbilt to just 25 percent (4-16) from 3-point range on Wednesday in Nashville. Vandy, one of the nation's top 3-point shooting team's, attempted just 16 from beyond the arc in the game, over six attempts less than the Commodores average per game. The 25 percent was also the lowest average for Vandy in SEC play this season. 38.5 - The Gamecocks played outstanding defensively vs. the Commodores as mentioned in the note above. Vanderbilt hit just 38.5 percent (15-39) in the game, its second-lowest percentage of the SEC season. The 15 made shots by Vandy tied for the lowest by a South Carolina opponent under the direction of Darrin Horn. +7.2 - In SEC games this season, South Carolina opponents attempt 7.2 more free throws per game than the Gamecocks, as SC attempts 12.9 per outing and opponents 20.1.
The Vols enter Saturday's contest with a 15-13 overall record, including an impressive 7-6 mark in league play ... UT has won five of its last six contests, including most recently a 73-60 victory vs. Ole Miss on Wednesday ... Sophomore guard Trae Golden leads the team with 13.0 points and 4.7 assists per game in overall games, while junior forward Jeronne Maymon paces the team in league play with 14.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per outing ... The Vols are 1-5 in league games on the road this season with the lone win at Florida earlier this month ... UT head coach Cuonzo Martin will be making his first trip to Columbia as the head coach at Tennessee on Saturday.
South Carolina will host Mississippi State next Wednesday (Feb. 29) in the final home contest of the regular season. The game will serve as senior night for forward Malik Cooke and manager Philip Deter. Game time is set for 8 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.