COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina wraps up the regular season Saturday afternoon at Mississippi State in the only meeting this season between the two teams. The two sides split last year’s regular season meetings, but the Bulldogs defeated the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament, 70-59, on March 13, 2013 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. Saturday’s contest will air on SECTV at 4 p.m. ET.
OPENING TIP Date: Saturday, March 8, 2014 Tipoff: 4 p.m. ET Location: Starkville, Miss. Arena: Humphrey Coliseum (10,575) Series: Mississippi State leads series 9-18 Last Meeting: Mississippi State win, 70-59, on March 13, 2013 in Nashville, Tenn. (Bridgestone Arena) Broadcast: SEC TV | ESPN3 Talent:Dave LaMont (pxp), Joe Dean Jr. (analyst) Radio:Gamecock Radio Network/107.5 The Game in Columbia Sirius:N/A; XM: N/A Talent:Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst) Game Notes | Live Stats | @GamecockMBB on Twitter | Tickets
Martin Suspended Head Coach Frank Martin will not be with the team for Saturday’s game after receiving a one-game suspension from the university for “inappropriate verbal communication as it relates to the well-being of our student athletes,” Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. Associate head coach Matt Figger will serve as acting head coach when South Carolina takes on Mississippi State.
Carolina Quick Hits - South Carolina is in its 106th season of basketball. - The Gamecocks are led by Frank Martin in his second year. Matt Figger is the associate head coach, and Perry Clark and Lamont Evans are assistant coaches. Andy Assaley is in his second year as the director of operations for the Gamecocks. - The Gamecocks are in their 23rd season of competition in the Southeastern Conference in 2014. Carolina owns a 136-234 (.368) all-time record in SEC play. - Frank Martin owns a 57-59 (.491) all-time record in conference play. - Trailing by two at the half to No. 1/1 Florida, the Gamecocks were 44-20 in the final 20 minutes as the Gators were led by Michael Frazier II’s UF record 11 3-pointers as they won 72-46. Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena Sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas paced Carolina with 12 points and eight rebounds. The 20-point second half total and the 46 points for the game were both season lows as the Gamecocks were stifled by the SEC’s top defense. - Propelled by 24 points from senior guard Brenton Williams, South Carolina toppled No. 15/17 Kentucky 72-67 at Colonial Life Arena. It was Carolina’s first win versus Kentucky since a 68-62 victory over the Wildcats when UK was ranked No. 1 on Jan. 26, 2010, and it was the Gamecocks’ first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 22/24 Vanderbilt, 83-75, on Jan. 8, 2011 in Columbia. - The Gamecocks held the Wildcats to 26.9 percent (14-of-52) from the field. It was Carolina's best defensive effort since holding Longwood to 22.8 percent shooting in the season opener. - Fifteen of Williams’ 24 points were scored at the charity stripe as the senior set a new career high for free throws made in a game and attempted in a game (16). - In overall games, South Carolina ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage (.364), fourth in offensive rebounds per game (13.3) and fifth in free throw percentage (.718) in the SEC. - A 26-point effort from Williams was not enough on the road as South Carolina shot 26.7 percent (8-30) in the first half before falling 83-67 to Auburn on last Wednesday night. Sophomore forward Michael Carrera recorded a season-high 13 rebounds in the game. n After being tied at the half with Georgia at 34-34, South Carolina went more than nine minutes without a field goal to start the second half and fell 73-56. Freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 18 points, while Williams added 16. - Despite overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit late in the second half, South Carolina was unable to claim a lead in the final 20 minutes as they fell 71-64 at Arkansas. The Gamecocks countered the frenetic play with the hot-shooting of Williams who hit a career-high 11 field goals as he scored 29 points, going 6-of-13 from 3. - For the first time since January of 2011, South Carolina won back-to-back conference games as the team topped Alabama 67-66. With the Crimson Tide battling back behind 25 second-half points from Trevor Releford to grab the lead, Thornwell led the charge for the Gamecocks, scoring or assisting on 15 of Carolina's final 17 points, including hitting two free throws to ice the game with five seconds left. The freshman led the Gamecocks with 22 points. - For his efforts on the week, Thornwell was named Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week and SEC Freshman of the Week after averaging 20.5 points, five rebounds and five assists in two games. It was his second Freshman of the Week honor from the conference this season, and first national honor. - Despite being located in an area which sees little to no snowfall annually, South Carolina is 3-0 this season when there is snow on the ground in Columbia. (Jan. 29, Texas A&M; Feb. 13, Vanderbilt; Feb. 15, Alabama) - In its second game of the season which took place with campus closed due to winter weather, the Gamecocks moved to 2-0 in such games, topping Vanderbilt last Thursday night, 65-59, after the contest was postponed for 20 hours after the original scheduled time. Thornwell led South Carolina with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists. - Against the Commodores, the Gamecocks grabbed a season-high 26 offensive rebounds en route to a 23-9 advantage in second-chance points. Five Carolina players recorded at least three offensive boards. - Carolina’s game vs. Vanderbilt was the 2,500th game in program history.
Scouting Mississippi State Mississippi State enters Saturday’s matchup with a 13-17 overall record, which includes a 3-14 mark in the SEC ... The Bulldogs have dropped their last 12 games since starting the conference season 3-2 ... Craig Sword leads the offense with 13.2 points per game, and the defense with 1.9 steals per game ... Gavin Ware also averages double digits in points at 10.3 and pulls down 7.1 rebounds per game ... As a team, the Bulldogs rank third in the conference in steals at 7.7 per game.
Mississippi State Series Saturday’s meeting vs. Mississippi State marks the 28th all-time meeting between the two schools ... After splitting the regular season, with each team winning on its home court, the Bulldogs claimed the season series with a 70-59 win over the Gamecocks on March 13, 2013 in the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. ... South Carolina has lost eight of the last nine games in the series after winning three straight from 2006-2007 ... The Gamecocks last win over the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss., was a 66-63 result on Jan. 27, 2007.
By The Numbers 2 - In SEC games, Sindarius Thornwell leads all freshmen in two categories: scoring (15.2) and assists (4.00). 4 - Senior guard Brenton Williams has hit at least four 3s in eight of 17 SEC games this season. 6 - The Gamecocks have won six of 15 games when the scoring margin is 10 points or less. 6 - In their last 13 games, the Gamecocks have recorded at least six 3s in all but four games during that stretch. 9 - Sophomore forward Michael Carrera has led Carolina in rebounding in nine of the last 13 games. 12 - Thornwell has recorded double-figures in 12 of 17 SEC games, including five with 20-plus points, tying B.J. McKie for the most by a South Carolina freshman in SEC games. 18 - Williams has recorded double-figures in 18 of his last 22 games. 34.4 - Since the injury to Tyrone Johnson on Jan. 15, Thornwell and Williams have stepped up their scoring numbers. The duo is averaging a combined 34.4 points in the last 14 games. 36.6 - Since Johnson’s injury, Thornwell has assumed much the team’s point guard responsibilities and has thrived in the position as a dual-threat, accounting for at least 36.8 percent of the team’s points by scoring on his own or distributing the ball. He is averaging 15.6 points and 4.5 assists in the last 13 games to go with 4.6 rebounds. 42.6 - Williams ranks third in the SEC in 3-point percentage at .426 (80-188). 80 - With two 3-pointers against Florida, Williams moved to second in Carolina’s history for most 3s in a season 95.4 - Williams has hit 103-of-108 free throws this season, which ranks No. 1 in the nation.
Up Next The Gamecocks will play in one of two first round matchups in the SEC Tournament to begin on March 12 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.