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December 30, 2013

Hoops preview: Marshall

Marshall (5-7) v. South Carolina (5-6)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Colonial Life Arena (10,300)
TV: CSS/ESPN3 Series USC leads 3-2
Last meeting: Marshall defeated South Carolina 116-85 on Dec. 1, 1980, in Huntington, West Va.

Losers of three straight and five of six before heading to Hawaii, the Gamecocks find themselves post-Christmas in better spirits having carved a two-game winning streak out of the schedule for the first time this year and have won three of the past four games.

Two of those wins came at the expense of the Akron Zips, who undoubtedly would just as soon not see head coach Frank Martin's team again anytime in the next decade. In Saturday's 78-45 win, the Gamecocks played some of their best basketball of the season in the second half and look to continue that play tonight against a Marshall team having lost five of its last six games including a one-point loss to Arkansas State on Dec. 21 in The Herd's last game.

Marshall already has faced one SEC team this season, losing at Vanderbilt by two points, 69-67, back on Dec. 5. Seven of The Herd's 12 games have been decided by 10 points or less, with Marshall's record in those contests being a dismal 1-6. Marshall is winless in five games away from home this year, while the Gamecocks are 3-2 at the Colonial Life Arena.

Three keys to victory

FEED WILLIAMS: Brent Williams has been an enigma the past two years, equal parts electrifying and frustrating. As likely to shoot lights-out from the field as disappear for weeks at a time, there's never been any doubt about William's shooting touch, as his record-tying 41 straight free throws attests along with his career-high tying six 3-pointers made in a 24-point outburst Saturday against Akron. If Williams' confidence can continue to grow and he can learn to shoot through minor slumps, he makes this team a different animal offensively. How he plays tonight will say a lot as to whether he's primed to explode or destined to disappear once more.

REGARDING HENRY: With the scoring coming predominantly from the perimeter of late thanks to Ty Johnson, Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and Williams, Demetrius Henry should be able to feed off that extra attention and prosper inside as he also grows in maturity and confidence. Against the Zips on Saturday he had 8 points and 6 rebounds on the heels of a disappointing scoreless effort against Akron in Honolulu. Tonight affords Henry the opportunity to get back in the flow of things and see if he can't notch his first career double-double.

PUT BACK THE PUTBACKS: South Carolina crecorded 17 offensive rebounds on Saturday against Akron, scoring 18 second chance points in the contest. South Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC in offensive rebounds per game with 13.7. Against Marshall, the Gamecocks should look to continue what is becoming a strength of the team.

Probable starting lineups:

South Carolina G - #0 Sindarius Thornwell, 6-5 206 Fr. (12.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
G - #1 Brent Williams, 5-11, 172 Sr. (8.4 ppg., 2.1 rpg.)
G - #10 Duane Notice, 6-2, 221 Fr. (5.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
F - #21 Demetrius Henry, 6-9 215 Fr. (6.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
F - #25 Mindaugas Kacinas, 6-7 210 So. (6.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg)

Marshall G - #1 Kareen Canty, 6-1 185 R-Fr. (17.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
G - #2 Chris Thomas, 6-5 188 So. (12.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
G - #15 DeVince Boykins, 6-4 210 So. (2.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
F - #21 TyQuane Goard, 6-7 215 So. (7.3 ppg., 5.5 rpg)
F - #25 Ryan Taylor, 6-5 225 R-Fr. (12.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg)

Next game: South Carolina will face South Carolina State on Friday at the Colonial Life Arena at 7 p.m.



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