USC Hoops Releases Non-Conference Schedule

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — South Carolina head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin announced on Tuesday his team’s non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2015-16 campaign, Martin’s fourth season in Columbia. The lineup features 14 games, with nine home games, including one exhibition. Highlighting the non-conference slate is the Gamecocks’ trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam in November and a neutral site matchup against St. John’s in the Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout just before the Christmas holiday. The Gamecocks will face three teams who advanced to the postseason a year ago, with the possibility of facing five, with Tulsa (NIT) and Hofstra (CBI) potential opponents at the Paradise Jam. Carolina will also face six teams with a returning first-team all-conference honoree on its squad from a year ago. “We have a great schedule put together for our non-conference this season,” Martin said. “It is a very challenging schedule that we think will prepare our team for the SEC season. The Paradise Jam has a great field of teams and will be very competitive, and we are excited for the opportunity to play in the Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout against St. John’s in December. We play Clemson on the road this season and we are excited about nine home games in front of our great fans at Colonial Life Arena.” South Carolina opens its 108th season of varsity basketball with an exhibition contest against Allen University on Nov. 8. This season marks the second-straight that the Gamecocks have welcomed another squad from the City of Columbia to Colonial Life Arena for an exhibition game. The official season opener is the following weekend, when Norfolk State visits Columbia as part of the Paradise Jam on Nov. 14. The Spartans earned their fourth-consecutive postseason berth last spring with a trip to the Tournament after posting a 20-14 record, and advancing to the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament. The Gamecocks will be back at Colonial Life Arena just two days later with a matchup against 2015 College Basketball Invitational participant Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles posted a 19-14 record last season, and the program has advanced to the postseason in four of the last five campaigns. The teams have met twice previously, last during the 1988-89 campaign, with the series tied at 1-1. A trip to the Caribbean is up next for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks will compete in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. The eight-team field includes Carolina’s opening-round opponent, DePaul, possible second-round opponents Florida State and Hofstra, Indiana State, Norfolk State, Ohio and Tulsa. The Blue Demons are led by first-year head coach Dave Leitao in his second stint with the program, and the squad returns three of its top four scorers from last season. DePaul holds a slight 4-3 edge in the all-time series, with the last meeting a Blue Demon win in the 1999 Puerto Rico Shootout. Carolina returns to Columbia to host Lipscomb on Nov. 27, and Western Carolina on Nov. 30, to end the month. The Bison return one of the top scorers in the Atlantic Sun in junior Josh Williams (16.9 points per game), while the Catamounts return three of their top scorers, including Mike Brown, who provided 13.8 points per game as a junior last year. The Gamecocks and South Florida Bulls are set to meet for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign on Dec. 5 in Columbia. The Bulls are in year two under head coach Orlando Antigua. Antigua is familiar with the Gamecocks having served as an assistant at Kentucky prior to his time at USF. The Bulls look to build this season, having lost just one senior from last year’s squad. Drexel is next on the home schedule on Dec. 15 following the break for exams in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Gamecocks embark on their first road contest of the season, heading to face Clemson at Ben Secours Arena on Dec. 18. The Tigers’ home court is currently undergoing renovations, so the two rivals will meet in Greenville, S.C., in the 166th meeting between the two schools. South Carolina posted a 68-45 victory over the Tigers last season, behind a game-high 19 points from then-sophomore guard Duane Notice, including 14 of those in the second half. South Carolina travels to Uncasville, Conn., just before the Christmas holiday to face St. John’s in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout on Dec. 22. The Red Storm is led by first-year head coach Chris Mullin who will look to rebuild his program after the graduation of top scorer D’Angelo Harris (17.5 points per game) and transfer of one of the nation’s top shot blockers in Chris Obekpa (3.13 blocks per game). The meeting will be the fifth all-time between the Gamecocks and Red Storm, and the first since an 89-65 St. John’s win in Queens on Nov. 29, 2012. Francis Marion closes out the month of December at Colonial Life Arena in the first-ever meeting between the Gamecocks and Patriots on Dec. 30. Head coach Gary Edwards returns his top three scorers after finishing last season 13-15. South Carolina finishes its non-conference slate with a renewed rivalry with former Metro Conference opponent Memphis when the Tigers travel to Columbia on Jan. 2. Head coach Josh Pastner lost his top scorer in Austin Nichols, but the Tigers welcome six newcomers to the squad for the 2015-16 season. Game times and television details for the non-conference schedule will be released at a later date. 2015-16 Non-Conference Schedule Nov. 8 — Allen University (exhibition) Nov. 14 — Norfolk State (home game part of the Paradise Jam) Nov. 16 — Oral Roberts Nov. 20-23 — U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam Nov. 27 — Lipscomb Nov. 30 — Western Carolina Dec. 5 — USF Dec. 15 — Drexel Dec. 18 — at Clemson Dec. 22 — vs. St. John’s (Naismith Hall of Fame Shootout) Dec. 30 — Francis Marion Jan. 2 — Memphis

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