Gamecock Gameday: #24 Carolina Travels To Face #5 Kentucky On Saturday In Primetime
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — South Carolina aims for sole possession of first place in the SEC on Saturday when it travels to Lexington to face No. 5/5 Kentucky (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) in a battle of the two remaining undefeated teams in SEC play. The Gamecocks also look for back-to-back wins over ranked opponents for the second time this season, after posting a 57-53 victory over No. 19/21 Florida on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena.
– South Carolina is in its 109th season of varsity basketball in 2016-17.
– On the sidelines, Frank Martin is joined by associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Bruce Shingler, and director of operations Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina is back in the national rankings this week, checking in at No. 24 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The Gamecocks jumped in to the national rankings on Nov. 28 for the first time this season after posting wins over two ranked opponents the previous week in No. 25/24 Michigan and No. 18/16 Syracuse. The Gamecocks checked in at No. 20 in the Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll. The Gamecocks have risen to as high as 15th in the AP poll this season, which was the highest rank for Carolina since the Gamecocks were ranked 14th in the final poll of the 1997-98 campaign. The Gamecocks high mark in the Coaches poll this season was at No. 15.
– Behind 20 points from senior guard Sindarius Thornwell and an 11-point second half from sophomore forward Chris Silva, Carolina overcame hitting just 29.4 percent from the field to post a four-point victory over No. 19/21 Florida on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena. The 57-53 win over the Gators was the second straight for South Carolina over its former SEC East rival. The Gamecock defense was stifling, holding Florida to 35.2% from the field, and 0-17 from 3-point range. Thornwell would score 15 of his 20 in the second half.
– In league play, Carolina opponents are averaging 20.0 turnovers per contest.
– South Carolina currently leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc this season.
– South Carolina leads the SEC in several defensive categories entering Saturday’s matchup at Kentucky. In overall games, Carolina is tops in scoring defense (59.4), FG% defense (36.3%) and 3-point FG% defense (26.3%), and is second in steals (8.3 per game). In stricly league games, Carolina is first in scoring defense (59.6), FG% defense (37.5%) and steals (9.4 per game).
– South Carolina is 11-1 at home this season, averaging 73.3 points per game and hitting 43.2% from the field.
– The Gamecocks are 3-1 in away games this season (2-0 in SEC games), and average 67.0 points per game and have hit 39.7% from the field.
– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is 81-78 (.509) all-time in conference games.
– Martin is 23-31 (.425) against ranked opponents as a head coach. His teams have four wins over opponents ranked in the top five, and two wins over opponents who are ranked No. 1.
– South Carolina is in its 26th basketball season as a member of the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks are 160-253 (.387) all-time in SEC games.
– The Gamecocks currently rank 29th in the NCAA RPI (games through Jan. 19), which is third in the SEC behind Florida (4th) and Kentucky (7th).
– Nine different Gamecocks average at least 12 minutes per game, and six different players provide at least five points per outing.
– The Gamecocks are 3-0 vs. ranked opponents this season (Michigan, Syracuse, Florida) and 4-1 vs. ranked opponents dating back to last season.
– Opponents are averaging just 18.8 made baskets per game and just 4.4 made 3s per game against the stifling Gamecock defense. In league play, opponents are averaging 19.4 makes per game.
– The Wildcats are 16-2 on the season, which includes a mark of 6-0 in SEC games.
– UK is led by head coach John Calipari in his eighth season.
– Kentucky’s two losses this season have come against ranked opponents in #11/19 UCLA on Dec. 3, and at #10/11 Louisville on Dec. 21.
– UK is 9-1 in home games this season, averaging 95.3 points per game in home games.
– Four average double-figure points for the Wildcats, led by freshman guard Malik Monk’s 21.4 per outing. Fellow freshmen De’Aaron Fox adds 16.7 per outing, sophomore Isaiah Briscoe scores 15.2 per game and freshman forward Bam Adebayo adds 12.8 per game.
– Monk’s 21.3 points per game in league games paces the SEC.
– In the SEC stats, the Wildcats are first in scoring (93.3 points per game), in scoring margin (+21.1), in field goal percentage (49.6), in blocked shots (6.2 per game) and in assists (18.1).
– Kentucky has an SEC low 111 turnovers on the year, which ranks 31st nationally.
– The Wildcats have hit at least 50 percent from the field in six-straight games entering Saturday’s matchup vs. the Gamecocks.