Gamecocks Open SEC Play At Auburn
By USC SID
Auburn, AL (USC SID) — Nationally-ranked South Carolina begins SEC play on Tuesday when it travels to face Auburn for a 7 p.m. ET matchup versus the Tigers. The Gamecocks remain the only unbeaten team in the league, and just one of three unbeaten teams in the country.
- South Carolina is in its 108th season of varsity basketball in 2015-16.
- Carolina is led by fourth-year head coach Frank Martin. Alongside him are associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Lamont Evans and director of men’s hoops operations, Andy Assaley.
- South Carolina is ranked No. 22 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, it’s highest ranking since 1998, while Carolina remains at No. 20 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll. Carolina remains the only undefeated team in the SEC and one of just three unbeaten teams nationally (games through Jan. 3).
- A combined 68 fouls and 99 free throw attempts was the story of South Carolina’s 86-76 win vs. visiting Memphis on Jan. 2 at Colonial Life Arena in the final non-conference tune-up of the season for Carolina. The win moved the Gamecocks to 13-0 on the year, it’s longest win streak since the 1969-70 squad won 17-straight. Senior forward Michael Carrera posted his second double-double of the season with 16 points and a game high 11 rebounds, while junior guard Sindarius Thornwell added a season high 18 points, two assists and three steals.
- In the most updated NCAA stats (games through Jan. 3), South Carolina ranks in the top 15 in field goal percentage defense (13th), rebound margin (14th), free throw attempts (8th), free throws made (15th), and total rebounds per game (10th).
- The Gamecocks are 8-16 all-time in SEC openers, including a 3-0 record vs. Auburn in season lidlifters. Carolina’s last road victory in an SEC opener came in a win at Auburn on Jan. 9, 2010. The Gamecocks suffered a 72-68 loss to Florida in last season’s opener.
- Earlier in the week, behind a season-high 13 points from rookie forward Chris Silva, the Gamecocks kept their unbeaten streak alive with a 78-56 win vs. visiting Francis Marion at Colonial Life Arena on Dec. 30. Fellow freshman Eric Cobb would pull down a team high seven rebounds, and rookie point guard PJ Doziercollected a season high five steals. The Gamecocks out-rebounded the Patriots 47-42 and scored 29 points off of 22 FMU turnovers.
GAMECOCKS IN THE POLLS
South Carolina remains at No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week, but has jumped to No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll, it’s highest ranking since 1998. Carolina was ranked as high as high as fifth in the poll during the 1997-98 season.
South Carolina continues SEC play when Vanderbilt travels to Columbia on Saturday. Tip time vs. the Commodores is set for 3 p.m. ET. Mike Morgan (play-by-play), Chris Spatola (analyst) and Kayce Smith (sideline) will have the call for the SEC Network broadcast.
The Tigers are 7-5 on the year, and most recently posted an 83-77 home win vs. Tennessee in their SEC opener on Saturday. Five different Auburn players average double-figure points, led by junior guard Kareem Canty’s 19.3 points per game. Canty also leads the squad and ranks tied for second in the SEC with 5.9 assists per outing. Cinmeon Bowers’ 9.3 rebounds are a team best and fourth in the SEC. Auburn is averaging 44.8 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3-point range, where the Tigers average 10 makes per game. Auburn holds a 5-1 record at home this season, with its lone loss a 91-84 decision to Colorado on Nov. 17. The Tigers are led by Bruce Pearl in his second season.
SERIES VS. AUBURN
Auburn holds a 23-15 lead in the all-time series with South Carolina, and the Tigers have won six of the last seven, and six of the last 10. Auburn has won three-straight on its home court, with Carolina last winning on the road in the series in an 80-71 victory on Jan. 9, 2010.
Gamecock opponents average just 65.6 points per game this season against the Carolina defense, which also forces an average of 15.8 turnovers per game, and collects 7.8 steals per game. Below is a quick look at where the Gamecocks rank in the SEC (overall games) in a selection of defensive categories (through Jan. 2 games):
Scoring Defense: 5th, 65.6 opponent points per game (Florida 1st with 62.0 per game)
FG Percent Defense: 3rd, 37.3 percent (Vanderbilt 1st with 36.8 percent)
Turnover Margin: 5th, +2.2 per game (LSU 1st with +3.7 per game)
Rebounding Defense: 2nd, 32.5 opponent rebounds per game (Kentucky 1st with 32.2 per game)
Defensive Rebound Percent: 1st, 73.1 percent (375 defensive rebs., compared to 138 opponent offensive rebs. per game)
Steals: 3rd, 7.8 per game (LSU 1st with 9.2 per game)