(21) USC Faces SEC-Rival Tennessee Saturday
By: USC SID
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina looks for its second-straight SEC road win when it travels to face Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville for a Noon tip-off versus the Vols. The Gamecocks won last season’s meeting against the Vols, halting a 15-game UT win streak in the series.
– 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. 24 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, while Carolina is No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll. The Gamecocks have been ranked for the past six weeks in the Coaches Poll, rising to as high as 15th, and for five-straight weeks in the AP poll, reaching as high as 19th.
– Carolina clinched its seventh win away from Columbia on Tuesday, pulling off an overtime, come-back win at Ole Miss. Four Gamecocks were in double figures, led by senior forward Michael Carrera’s 19 – with 12 of those coming in the second half and five in overtime. Carolina trailed by 11 with 4:13 remaining in regulation, and held the Rebels scoreless the remainder of the way to force overtime.
– In four away games this season, Carolina averages 68.2 points per game, and has hit 42.7 percent of its attempts from the floor.
– South Carolina will face the SEC’s second-leading scorer on Saturday in Tennessee’s Kevin Punter (22.6 points per game), after facing Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody on Tuesday, the league’s leading scorer at 24.3 points per game.
– Did you know? Frank Martin and Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes met five times as head coaches at Kansas State and Texas, respectively, during their time in the Big 12. Martin holds a slight 3-2 edge in games played between the two head coaches. Martin’s first-ever win over a No. 1 ranked opponent came against Barnes’ Longhorns during the 2009-10 campaign.
– The Gamecocks left the Alabama game behind them, and got back on the winning track with an 81-72 win versus visiting Missouri On Jan. 16. Junior guard Sindarius Thornwell matched his season high with 22 points in the win, also dishing a team high four assists to go along with a team best three steals. Missouri hit 49.1% (28-57) from the field in the contest, the second-highest mark by a Carolina opponent all season, but the Gamecocks had four reach double-figures in the win, and converted on 22-of-33 attempts at the foul line to clinch the victory.
– South Carolina is 21st in the most recent NCAA RPI (Jan. 22).
– The Gamecocks are in their 25th season of competition in the Southeastern Conference in 2016. Carolina owns a 148-247 (.374) all-time record in SEC play.
– Frank Martin owns a 69-72 (.489) all-time record in conference games.
GAMECOCKS IN THE POLLS
South Carolina is ranked No. 24 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, while Carolina is No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll. The Gamecocks have been ranked for the past six weeks in the Coaches Poll, rising to as high as 15th, and for five-straight weeks in the AP poll, reaching as high as 19th.
Tennessee enters Saturday’s matchup with a 9-9 overall record, which inludes a 2-4 mark in league games. UT most recently suffered a home loss against instate rival Vanderbilt on Wednesday, in an 88-74 decision. Tennessee’s league wins this season have come against Florida and at Mississippi State. Senior guard Kevin Punter is second in the SEC and leads the Vols with 22.6 points per game. He is also the second-leading scorer in strictly league contests at 23.5 points per game. Armani Moore (12.5), Robert Hubbs III (12.3) and Devon Baulkman (10.1) also average double figures for the Vols. Tennesee, which was picked to finish 12th in the SEC Preseason Poll, is averaging 79.3 points per game this season (overall games), which ranks third in the league. The Vols also rank among league leaders with 14.1 assists per game. The squad is led by head coach Rick Barnes in his first season in Knoxville.
After two road games this week, Carolina will be home for a pair of SEC contests next week, hosting Mississippi State on Tuesday (Jan. 26), before welcoming Alabama for an evening matchup on Saturday (Jan. 30). The meeting versus the Bulldogs will be the first of two this season between the two schools, and the Alabama contest is a rematch between the Crimson Tide and Gamecocks. On Jan. 13, Alabama handed Carolina its only loss of the season thus far in Tuscaloosa. Both games will be televised on the SEC Network.
BY THE NUMBERS
70 – Senior forward Michael Carrera currently has 70 made field goals this season, which matches his total field goals from all of the 2014-15 campaign.
103 – Senior forward Michael Carrera needs just 103 points to reach the 1,000 point plateau for his career in the Garnet and Black.
18 – Rookie guard Jamall Gregory played a season high 18 minutes in Carolina’s win at Ole Miss earlier this week. Gregory scored four points, including a highlight reel dunk in the second half, while also pulling down five rebounds. He also aided the Gamecock offense with two assists against zero turnovers in the contest.
11 – South Carolina trailed by as many as 11 points in the matchup at Ole Miss before the comeback win. It was Carolina’s first comeback win in a true road game after trailing by double-digits since posting a 58-55 win at Clemson on Dec. 4, 2011. The Gamecocks trailed the Tigers by 10 in that contest.
2 – South Carolina’s win in Oxford versus the Rebels was just the second road win in the series for the Gamecocks (first was in 2008).
18 – The Gamecocks rank 18th in the country in the most recent NCAA stats in field goal percentage defense, as opponents average just 38.6 percent from the floor in overall games this season.
+10 – Five Gamecocks average double-figures in overall games this season led by junior guard Sindarius Thornwell’s 12.1 per game.
GAMECOCKS WIN IN KNOXVILLE
The Gamecocks concluded the 2014-15 regular season with an 11-point victory on the road at Tennessee on March 7, 2015. The win, Carolina’s first in Knoxville since the 2002 campaign, broke a 15-game Volunteer win streak in the series between the two schools. Four Gamecocks recorded double-figures in that contest, including then-junior forward Michael Carrera who posted team highs with 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson and sophomore guard Duane Notice each dished a team high five assists.