Carolina to play LSU in the first round of the SEC Tournament
March 11, 2008
USC, 13-17 and 5-11 in the SEC, will play LSU, 13-17 and 6-10 in the SEC, in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta, Ga., on Thurs., March 13 at 1 pm. The Tigers have been playing under interim head coach Butch Pierre, who has been with LSU for 11 years, since Fri., Feb. 8 when the Tigers released head coach John Brady from his contract. They are 5-4 under Pierre, a 1984 graduate of Mississippi State, in his first time at the helm of a program.
The Carolina-LSU 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. It's featured on www.gamecocksonline.com.
Carolina is 15-15 in the SEC Tournament since joining the league (see chart below for records vs. SEC opponents). Under Coach Odom the Gamecocks are 7-6 in the SEC Tournament and have advanced to the semifinals twice and the finals once. USC lost to Arkansas in the first round last year (82-52). USC fell 49-47 to Florida in the 2006 SEC Tournament finals with Tre' Kelley joining Renaldo Balkman on the SEC All-Tournament team.
LSU won the two team's only match-up on Feb. 27, 62-55. 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 MSU on Feb. 11, 2006. The Gamecocks own an 11-10 record in the series, but Carolina has lost the last four games to the Tigers. Carolina's last win: an 85-64 win in the second round of the 2004 SEC Tournament. USC's SEC record vs. the Tigers is 10-10 as its only other meeting came when the Tigers visited Columbia back in 1974 for the Carolina Classic, dropping a 77-64 decision to USC.
A few things about the match-up: First Meeting: Dec. 21, 1974 (77-64, in Columbia) Last Meeting: Feb. 27, 2008 (55-62, in Columbia)
Odom said Dave Odom on Monday's SEC teleconference: "Certainly we enter the SEC tournament with somewhat of a mixed bag. We come off playing what is arguably the best team in the SEC in Tennessee. We were down 38-37 at the half and only to come out in the second half and have Tennessee show what a great team they are. We didn't make shots early, we didn't make free throws, we had a hard time and the flood gates opened."
"We go into the SEC Tournament with two problems. One is ourselves. We have to regroup today and that won't be an easy task, but the SEC Tournament gives us reason to do that. The second part is LSU, which is one of the up and coming teams in the league as evidenced by their play the last three - four weeks. The game here was a fairly close game throughout and they got us at the end (LSU won 62-55 on Feb. 27 in Columbia). They got us with their great length. Marcus Thornton is scoring the ball in bunches. They are a really good team and their length will get us. We have to get our perimeter game untracked again."
USC has three players averaging double figures: Devan Downey (18.3), Zam Fredrick (14.6) and Dominique Archie (10.5). Downey leads the team with 5.2 apg and 3.2 spg. Sam Muldrow leads with 1.4 bpg. Archie leads with 5.7 rpg. Brandis Raley-Ross is hitting 50.7% of his three pointers and Downey a team-high 75.2% of his free throws. Downey has a team-high 30 points vs. PSU on Nov. 22 and Holmes had a team-high 16 rebounds vs. NCSU.
Holmes has three double-doubles (Feb. 20 at UF, Feb. 23 vs. MSU and March 5 vs. UK) and Archie has two (Jan. 2 vs. Radford, Jan. 23 vs. Florida). Downey has one (Nov. 12 vs. The Citadel). Career-wise, Archie and Holmes have three, Downey has two (one at UC vs. N.C. A&T) and Fredrick has one dating back to his days at Tech (at Michigan State). 5 points, 3 points
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 13-17 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.
Archie: check check
Dominique Archie has started every game of his career after red-shirting his freshman year, starting 60 straight - including 30 last season and 30 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 recent NCAA stats, USC is No. 5 in the country in turnovers (Mon., March 10). USC is ranked in the top 30 in two other categories: No. 19 in fouls per game and No. 28 in assist-turnover ratio.
Opponents are averaging 14.7 topg while USC is averaging just 10.7 topg. USC has turned the ball over 10 times or fewer in 16 games, including the last eight of the last 12 games (4 vs. LSU; 6 vs. Alabama; 9 at UK, vs. UGA and vs. Vandy; 10 at UGA, at UF and vs. UK; 11 vs. MSU and at Auburn; 12 at Ole Miss and 16 at UT). USC has forced double-digit TO against every opponent except two (9 vs. USC and vs. UF). The competitions lowlights include: Penn State let the ball fall into Gamecock hands a season-high 21 times, Campbell turned it over 20 times, Arkansas and MSU fumbled it 19 times and UK, Radford and 'Bama turned it over 18 times.
Dominique Archie and Devan Downey have started every game for USC this season (30). Archie joined Brandon Wallace as the only two to start every game last season (30). Archie is the first play since Chuck Eidson to start every game two years straight. Eidson did it in 2001-02 and 2002-03. No player has started every game three years straight since USC joined the SEC.
Prior to the 2007-08 season, Rivals.com named Downey the top impact transfer in the country. They might have been onto something. With 95 steals this season, Downey broke Chuck Eidson's record for most steals in a season (93, 2000) during the UT game. He should also break the season record for steals per game. He is second in the country with 3.2 spg. Carolina's Chuck Eidson stole the ball a school-record 93 times in 2000 and his season school record is 2.91 spg in 2000.
With at least one game to play, Downey is 7 steals from tying the SEC record as well. Eidson was 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. 42 in apg, No. 58 in ppg and No. 83 in assist-turnover ratio (Mon., March 11).
No Free ones hardly
Evka Baniulis has started 11 of the 26 games he's played in this season. He has played 479 minutes this season and has shot exactly two free throws during that span.
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.
Freshman Mike Holmes has been playing much better the past few weeks. He has played 26+ minutes in the last six games, including a season-high 34 minutes vs. Kentucky. Holmes picked up his third double-double of the SEC slate when he put up 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He is the first freshman since USC joined the SEC to post three double-doubles in his first campaign.
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.
In the IF ONLY category, if Holmes would have had one more rebound against the following teams he would have had two additional double-doubles: one more rebound to go with 13 points vs. Penn State; one more rebound to go with 15 points at UT.
More Number Notes
The Gamecocks have at least 5 steals in all, but two games this season. After 30 games last season, the Gamecocks had 5+ steals in just 12 games. In 13 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.
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 197 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 115 consecutive games since they went block-less on Jan. 15, 2005 in a 66-63 win vs. Tennessee.