SOUTH CAROLINA at #2 KENTUCKY
When: 4 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 7
Where: Rupp Arena; Lexington, Ky.
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Big Blue Sports Network
Last Season: Jan. 22, 2011 – UK 67, @South Carolina 58; Feb. 19, 2011 - @UK 90, South Carolina 59
Records: South Carolina (8-6, 0-0); Kentucky (14-1, 0-0)
South Carolina coach Darrin Horn
Notes: Kentucky leads the all-time series 44-10, including 23-2 in Lexington…The Cats have won 13 of the past 14 meetings in Rupp Arena, losing only the 2009 game…After losing three straight to the Gamecocks, UK has claimed each of the past three meetings by an average of 19.7 points…UK’s 31-point victory the last time the two programs met was the Cats’ largest win in the series since a 38-point win in 2007…Darius Miller had two of his best games last season against South Carolina, averaging 20.0 points and 7.0 rebounds while making 7-of-10 three-pointers…Terrence Jones averaged 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in those games…South Carolina coach Darrin Horn is a Lexington native…Horn has not made the NCAA Tournament in his three seasons with the Gamecocks.
2011-12 South Carolina Results
Nov. 11- WESTERN CAROLINA (W, 75-50)
Nov. 15 - at Elon (L, 53-58)
Nov. 20 - vs. Tennessee State (L, 63-64)
Nov. 22 - vs. Mississippi Valley St. (W, 61-57)
Nov. 25 - vs. North Carolina (L, 62-87)
Nov. 26 - vs. USC (L, 60-63)
Dec. 1 – PROVIDENCE (L, 67-76)
Dec. 4 - at Clemson (W, 58-55)
Dec. 13 – PRESBYTERIAN (W, 66-58)
Dec. 17 - OHIO STATE (L, 66-74)
Dec. 21 - SE LOUISIANA (W, 62-43)
Dec. 28 – WOFFORD (W, 57-45)
Dec. 31 - USC UPSTATE (W, 72-66)
Jan. 3 - SOUTH CAROLINA ST. (W, 79-51)
GAMECOCKS YOU SHOULD KNOW
CENTER OF ATTENTION
2011-12 Statistics: 9.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists
When Bruce Ellington decided to join the South Carolina football team after basketball ended it created quite an issue for the basketball program. Ellington, who averaged 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a freshman, was easily the Gamecocks’ best returning player and suddenly Horn faced the prospect of not having his point guard until SEC play.
The diminutive but talented guard is only a half-dozen games into his season but shook off a tough start to the season – surely because of his lack of preseason practice – to have a big game against Wofford last week during which he hit 5-of-6 three-pointers and upped his scoring average by nearly two full points per game. But he also struggled mightily in two games against Kentucky last season, averaging 7.5 points but connecting on just 4-of-22 field goals and 2-of-14 three-pointers.
2011-12 Statistics: 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds
In Short: As South Carolina tried to find its way early in the season without Ellington and Sam Muldrow, who exhausted his eligibility last season, much of the burden fell to Malik Cooke. The senior forward had a solid 2010-11 season (9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds) but was suddenly being counted on to become a prominent player instead of a role player, to which he responded quite well. Cooke isn’t rebounding at the same clip as last season but he’s got 28 steals, has shot well from outside and gets to the free throw line with regularity.
2011-12 Statistics: 8.4 rebounds, 5.1 rebounds
In Short: The Gamecocks hit the recruiting trail last year looking to find a young, physical presence who could help replace Sam Muldrow and they may have found it in Gill, who at 6-foot-8, 232 pounds already has a physique capable of handling the SEC. Gill has been very good in non-conference play and is quite adept at scoring around the basket, but the fact he’s made 6-of-9 three-pointers on the year makes him a versatile threat.
2011-12 Statistics: 5.7 points, 5.0 rebounds
In Short: It seems as though long, lean forwards who can jump out of the gym are all the rage these days and South Carolina has jumped aboard that train with Damontre Harris, a shot blocking pogo stick in the post. Harris hasn’t put up huge numbers but the fact he has rejected 30 shots on the season gives him the ability to make opponents at least think about where he is when they get into the paint.
2011-12 Statistics: 6.8 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists
In Short: Shooting is always at a premium in college basketball these days and Smith has shown early this season that he is capable of providing that type of offense for the Gamecocks. Although he had a bad shooting night last week against Wofford he still entered the weekend making 45.0 percent of his three-pointers, which is cause for concern for any opposing defense.