(19) USC Basketball on the Road at Alabama Wednesday
By: USC SID
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nationally-ranked South Carolina continues SEC action when it travels to Alabama for a mid-week matchup on Wednesday night. The contest marks Carolina’s second league road contest of the season. Carolina has risen to No. 19 in the AP Top 25 Poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week after starting conference play with a road win at Auburn last Tuesday, followed by a comeback win vs. Vanderbilt at home on Saturday.
– 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 Clarkand Lamont Evans and director of men’s hoops operations, Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina is ranked No. 19 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, it’s highest ranking since 1998, while Carolina jumped to No. 15 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll. Carolina remains the only undefeated team in the SEC and one of just two unbeaten teams nationally (games through Jan. 10).
– For the third game in a row, junior guard Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks in scoring, posting 19 to pace Carolina in a comeback win versus Vanderbilt at Colonial Life Arena last Saturday. En route to his 19, Thornwell tallied the 1,000th point of his career, becoming the 42nd member of the Carolina 1,000-point club. Senior forward Mindaugas Kacinas also tallied double-figures with 13. The star of the game was the Gamecock defense, holding the Commodores to just 32.8 percent from the floor (Vandy came into the matchup averaging 47.7 percent from the field.)
– Led by a season high 22 points from junior guard Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina had five score in double-figures, and the Gamecocks won their first SEC opener since 2011 on Jan. 5 with an 81-69 win on the road at Auburn. It marked Carolina’s sixth win away from Colonial Life Arena this season. Carolina held a 13-point advantage at the half, led by hot 3-point shooting in the opening stanza. The Gamecocks would go on to hit 50% from the field in the game, and match a season high with nine made 3s.
– 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.
GAMECOCKS IN THE POLLS
South Carolina ranks No. 19 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll after opening SEC play with a pair of wins, while the Gamecocks jumped five spots to No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
South Carolina returns home to host Missouri on Saturday in a 1 p.m. ET matchup on the SEC Network. The Gamecocks and Tigers have only met on five previous occassions, all in SEC play, with the exception of the most recent meeting, a 63-54 Gamecock win in the opening round of the 2015 SEC Tournament. Mizzou holds a slight 3-2 edge in the series, which is tied in Columbia, S.C., at 1-1. Richard Cross (play-by-play) and Dane Bradshaw (analyst) will have the call for the SEC Network broadcast.
Alabama, led by first-year head coach Avery Johnson, enters Wednesday’s matchup with a 9-5 overall record, which includes an 0-2 mark in league action. The Crimson Tide most recently suffered a 77-61 home loss to nationally-ranked Kentucky on Saturday. Three average double-figures in overall games, led by senior guard Retin Obasohan’s 14.6 per outing. He also paces the team and ranks among SEC leaders with 22.0 points per SEC game thus far. Obasohan tallied 21 vs. the Wildcats, and a season high 23 points in Alabama’s league opener at Ole Miss.