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January 18, 2014
Hoops preview: Ole Miss
Ole Miss (11-5, 2-1) at South Carolina (7-9, 0-3)
When: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
TV: SEC TV/ESPN3/Watch ESPN Series Series is tied at 15-15
Last meeting: South Carolina defeated Ole Miss 63-62 on Feb. 20, 2013.
On a weekend when the school is celebrating Carolina basketball legends, it was fitting for coach Frank Martin to remember the greatest legend of all - his predecessor, Frank McGuire, who was the first - and since only - coach to take the South Carolina program to the top of the national rankings and win both a regular season and conference tournament championship.
Martin said it took no time to understand fully McGuire's impact on basketball in South Carolina.
"I was eating at a restaurant in town with my family a little over a year ago, I'm sitting at the table and I kind of feel someone standing over my shoulder," Martin said. "I kind of look up and it's (former North Carolina and NBA player) Billy Cunningham. He was in town visiting family, and we started talking. He said some great Frank McGuire stories to me.
"I've gotten to know Larry Brown over the years; he's taken a liking to me. Don't ask me why, I don't understand why anybody would ever like me. Anytime we spend time together I just sit there and listen, and he had coach McGuire stories from the North Carolina days that were unbelievable and allows you to understand the impact he made in people that have been ultra-successful in the game of basketball."
McGuire said the stories he hears all communicate one single message: success.
"Whenever you speak about someone that's involved in something like coach McGuire was in basketball, it's not the wins that's powerful, it's the people he touched and the impact he made in those people's lives," Martin said. "That's what powerful. To see the kind of success that Billy Cunningham and Larry Brown, and I'm not even going to the Gamecock following."
A welcoming cookout for Martin and his staff not long after he was hired drove the point home about McGuire's impact on the university.
"We went over there, it was just Brad Underwood and I, and there were 50, 60 former Gamecock athletes," Martin said. "I'm meeting everyone and they're all football guys. And all the former football guys said they used to come to basketball games because of coach McGuire.
"This is the other part that just allowed me to see the impact coach McGuire made in this community. (Someone) said when coach McGuire got there was the first time people first started putting basketball goals up in their driveways. Before, that never happened.
"When you can make an impact to people in the community you live in, the people you lead and who are part of your live that makes people move forward, that's far greater than any win or any loss in a scorebook."
Three keys to victory
GIVE NOTICE: With the loss of Ty Johnson this past week to a broken right foot, all eyes turn to freshman Duane Notice. Notice is playing the point guard this year for the first time in his career, and so far, he's handled the duties better than most anyone could have guessed. Now, with only fellow freshman Jaylen Shaw as the only other player with minutes and experience at the point guard position, the pressure is on. How well Notice does today and from here on out will go a long way toward determining the overall success of the season.
KEEP CALM: One major hardship young teams often face is the tendency to crumple under the pressure of an opponent's run, and South Carolina has proved susceptible to that malady this season, especially in the second half and especially when its own offense stagnates. Good teams, veteran teams, know runs are part of the game and don't panic, which is precisely what Texas A&M did on Wednesday. The Gamecocks led for the majority of the game, but the Aggies never lost their composure of discipline. It's a lesson that the sooner the Gamecocks learn, the better off they'll be.
RINGER TIME: As freshman forward Demetrius Henry has struggled with the physical nature of SEC play, fellow freshman forward Desmond Ringer has begun to surge, finding his confidence and learning how to use his body not just to rebound but also put fouls on opposing players and score himself. Against an Ole Miss team not as large inside as last year's group, a good game from Ringer could go a long way to earning the team's first conference win of 2014.
Probable starting lineups:
G - #0 Sindarius Thornwell, 6-5, 206 Fr. (11.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G - #10 LaDarius White, 6-6, 211 Jr. (7.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
Next game: South Carolina travels to Georgia Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
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