March 4, 2008
USC, 13-15 and 5-9 in the SEC, will finish out the regular-season home schedule when it hosts Kentucky, 16-11 and 10-4 in the SEC, on Wed., March 5 at 7 pm. It will be the final home game of head coach Dave Odom's South Carolina career as he is retiring at the end of the season. It is also the final home game of senior Dwayne Day. Day will graduate with a degree in African-American Studies in May. The first 1,250 fans will receive a Coach Frank McGuire statue.
USC is 7-8 in closing out the home schedule since joining the SEC, including four overtime games (1-3). This will be the Gamecocks' fourth time playing Kentucky in its home season finale, with its one win coming 14 years ago on the same date, a 76-74 win (March 5, 1994).
The Carolina-Kentucky game can be seen regionally on Raycom with Tim Brando and Barry Booker making the call. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and is featured on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel No. 107, XM Channel No. 199 and on the internet at www.gamecocksonline.com.
USC finished 4-2 vs. the SEC Western Division when it won 69-63 at Auburn on March 1 behind Devan Downey's 21 points and a career-high 18 points from Mike Holmes. The Gamecocks shot almost 64% in the second half, turning a 34-31 deficit at half-time into a 58-46 lead on 11 of 17 shooting to the Tigers 3 of 19 during the same span.
Winning nine of their last 11, despite out-shooting (45.7% to 40.7%) and out-rebounding (33 to 31) the Vols, the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker, 63-60, at then-No. 1 Tennessee on March 2. UK was led by Ramel Bradley's 17 points and Derrick Jasper's eight rebounds. Perry Stevenson came off the bench to score 13 points. The Wildcats said goodbye for the season last Friday to the sure-fire SEC Freshman of the Year Patrick Patterson when it was announced that he has a stress fracture in his left ankle. Patterson was averaging 16.4 ppg and a team-leading 7.7 rpg. He played all 40 minutes of the USC contest on Jan. 23 when he scored 22 points with 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in the Wildcats' 78-70 win.
USC vs. UK
Kentucky leads the series 40-7 - the most lopsided of all SEC series' for Carolina. USC has four of the seven wins in the series in Columbia (1933, 1994, 1997, 2005). Seven of the last 11 games have been decided by seven points or less, but UK has come away with 24 wins in the 27 games the two have played since USC won the SEC title in 1997 by sweeping the series.
Ten of the 46 were played prior to USC joining the SEC in 1991-92 with UK posting an 8-1 record in non-SEC play and a 32-6 record in SEC play. The two first played each other on Feb. 24, 1928 when UK won 56-40 in the SC Tournament in Atlanta, Ga. Both teams were members of the Southern Conference with USC playing in the SC from 1922-1951 and UK from 1924-32. USC has 3 of the 7 wins against UK under Odom.
Coach Odom on Monday's SEC teleconference: "It was a really good win for us at Auburn. The second half we played really well. Our team has not shot the ball well lately and I don't know why. We have really shot the ball a lot in practice, but our shooters are off the mark a bit.
"It will be a big game against Kentucky. We played a really good game at Rupp in January. Both teams are really different now. Hopefully our team will play well because if we don't, Kentucky is really equipped to play well on the road. I am really impressed with what Billy has done with his team."
"Devan Downey is doing really well. When you win, you feel much better. He is playing really well right now and I don't think from any kind of physical standpoint he is facing any fatigue. He is playing a lot of minutes, but I don't see a lot of fatigue."
(On losing UK losing Patrick Patterson): "If you lose Patrick Patterson, you better have a Ramel Bradley. He did a phenomenal job against Tennessee. As far as Ramel is concerned, he would be an MVP candidate. He is certainly there for the MVP."
Prior to the 2007-08 season, Rivals.com named Downey the top impact transfer in the country. They might have been onto something. With 91 steals this season, Downey is on track to break the USC record for steals in a season and also steals per game in a season. He is second in the country with 3.3 spg. The single season school record is held by Chuck Eidson (2.91 spg in 2000). Eidson stole the ball a school-record 93 times in 2000. Downey has 18 3+ steal games this season and grabbed a career-best 7 steals twice (vs. Radford and vs. Alabama).
With at least three games to play, Downey is 12 steals from breaking the SEC record as well. Eidson is No. 2 in the SEC with the 93 steals (2000), but the SEC record was set by Arkansas' Clint McDaniel who stole the ball 102 times in 37 games in 1994-95.
A contender for SEC Player of the Year, Downey checks in at No. 2 nationally in steals, No. 45 in ppg and No. 47 in assist-turnover ratio (Mon., March 3). In overall games he leads the SEC in steals with 3.3 spg; is No. 2 in the SEC in ppg (19.3), assists (5.1) and mpg (37.36); No. 4 is assist-turnover ratio (1.89); and No. 7 in free throw % (75%). In SEC games Downey leads SEC in steals (3.21); No. 2 in ppg (19.9) and assist-turnover ratio (2.16); and No. 3 in assists (4.9)
Odom's lineup card: Archie, check check
Dominique Archie has started every game of his career after red-shirting his freshman year, starting 58 straight - including 30 last season and 28 this year. Against Auburn he topped former All-SEC forward Marius Petravicius' streak of 57 straight. Petravicius started all 32 games his freshman year and missed one start - game No. 26 vs. UT (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.
In the latest NCAA stats, USC is No. 5 in the country in turnovers (Mon., March 3). USC is ranked in the top 25 in two other categories: No. 19 in fouls per game and No. 25 in assist-turnover ratio.
USC turned the ball over just four times vs. LSU, while the Tigers handed the ball over 14 times. It was the fewest turnovers for the Gamecocks since they turned it over four times in the 83-61 win over Mississippi State on Feb. 11, 2006. The Gamecocks turned the ball over a then-season-low six times vs. Alabama compared to the Tide's own 18 turnovers. USC has forced double-digit turnovers against every opponent this season except two (9 against both vs. USC and vs. Florida). A few highlights included: Penn State let the ball fall into Gamecock hands a season-high 21 times, Campbell turned it over 20 times, Arkansas and Mississippi State fumbled it 19 times and Radford and Alabama turned it over 18 times. Opponents are turning the ball over an average of 14.5 times a game with USC is averaging just 10.5 turnovers a game.
USC has turned the ball over 10 times or fewer in 15 games, including the last seven of the last 10 games (4 vs. LSU; 6 vs. Alabama; 9 at UK, vs. UGA and vs. Vandy; 10 at UGA and at UF; 11 vs. MSU and at Auburn and 12 at Ole Miss).
USC is 9-8 in games decided by seven points or less this season. Taking a closer look, USC is 5-5 in games decided by three points or less. USC has lost four games this season that it was winning with a minute remaining (George Mason, UNC Asheville, then-No. 20 Vanderbilt and MSU). But, USC has also won two games it was losing with 60 ticks left (at then-22 Ole Miss, vs. Alabama).
With a 13-15 record, USC has had a number of close calls. With two minutes on the clock, USC has played 18 games where five points or less separated the winner and the loser. USC is 8-10 in those games. With one minute left, there have been 17 games where five points separated by the winner and the loser. USC is 7-10 in those games. Free ones
Evka Baniulis has started 12 of the 27 games he's played in this season. He went 1-2 from the free throw line on Feb. 23 vs. Mississippi State - his only free throws of the season. He hadn't shot a free throw since he went 2 of 4 vs. Kentucky on Feb. 7, 2007. He was 15 of 26 last season (57.7%), including 8 of 14 (57.1%) in SEC play.
He is second in the SEC this season in three-pointers percentage at 45.0% with UT's Chris Lofton leading the pack at 45.6% in SEC contests.
Freshman Mike Holmes has been playing much better the past few weeks. He was a non-factor in the first UK contest when he played four minutes, attempting one shot.
He has played 26+ minutes in the last four games. Against Auburn he was granted his first start since the UT game on Jan. 12. Holmes responded with a career-high 18 points, including a couple impressive dunks. He also collected 7 rebounds and 3 blocks before fouling out with 2:04 left in the contest.
Holmes is the first USC freshman to gather two back-to-back double-doubles since the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1991. Holmes grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 12 points vs the Bulldogs. He is the first Gamecock to grab back to back double-doubles since Rolando Howell did it back-to-back vs. MSU on Feb. 11, 2004 (24 points, 11 rebounds) and on Feb. 14, 2004 vs. VU (17 points, 12 rebounds).
Holmes picked up his first career double-double at Florida when he scored a then-career-best 16 points with 11 rebounds. He is the first true freshman to finish with a double-double since 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.
More Number Notes
The Gamecocks have at least 5 steals in all, but two games this season. After 28 games last season, the Gamecocks had 5+ steals in just 11 games. In 12 of its games this season, USC has finished with 9+ steals per game. During its season-high 15 steals vs. The Citadel, Devan Downey lead the charge with a season-high six steals. Raley-Ross added two and Sam Muldrow, Zam Fredrick, Chad Gray, Branden Conrad, Rob Wilder, Dwayne Day and Mike Holmes each picked up one. USC grabbed 14 steals vs. Alabama with Downey leading the charge with 7 steals, Fredrick collected three, Raley-Ross two and Archie and Holmes both one.
Sam Muldrow, the cousin of former All-SEC Gamecock forward Carlos Powell, leads the team with 1.4 bpg. He blocked six shots vs. Tennessee on Jan. 12 which topped his five blocked shots vs. Campbell on Nov. 28. It was the most for a freshman since Renaldo Balkman blocked five shots on Feb. 11, 2004 vs. Mississippi State. He followed up that performance with 4 blocks at Clemson. He has 38 blocks this season and has already topped school-record holder Brandon Wallace's total from his own freshman year (35).
The Gamecocks are scoring almost seven ppg more than they were last year at this same time. USC is averaging 72.5 ppg and have hit 74+ points in 11 games this year. After 28 games last year USC was averaging 65.6 ppg.
Carolina is holding opponents to just 34.2% from three-point range on the year, including Georgia, who shot 4-27 from beyond the arc (14.8%), The Citadel who shot 3-29 from beyond the arc (10.3%) and Penn State who went 4-25 for a 16% showing. Likewise USC is hitting better than 37% of its 3 point attempts.
The Gamecocks played four games at two neutral sites this season (three in Orlando at the Old Spice Classic and one in Philadelphia at the Pizza Hut Big East-SEC Challenge). It is the most USC has played on a neutral court early in the season since it played four of its first 7 regular season games in 1998-99 (two in Indianapolis and two in Charlotte).
The Gamecocks have made at least one 3-pointer in 196 consecutive games since they went 0-19 vs. Mississippi State on March 2, 2002 - a 64-57 loss. They have also had at least one block in 114 consecutive games since they went block-less on Jan. 15, 2005 in a 66-63 win vs. Tennessee.
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