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February 15, 2014

Hoops preview: Alabama

Alabama (10-14, 4-7) at South Carolina (9-15, 2-9)
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
TV: SEC TV
Series: Alabama leads 24-13
Last meeting: Alabama defeated USC 68-58 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Feb. 16, 2013.

At last.

With the second SEC win of the year under their belts, South Carolina finally has a win under its belts it can feel good about. Coming into Wednesday's game, the Commodores had won four of their last five games, including a 64-60 win over the same Tennessee team that ran the Gamecocks out of the gym in Knoxville a week ago today.

With the 64-59 win over Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks can begin feeling good about a team being ably led by freshmen Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice and ably manned by a host of other players finally accepting their roles and excelling at them.

Facing an Alabama team that has lost four of its last five and six of its last eight, the Gamecocks need to capitalize on the opportunity and find a way to sustain the momentum generated from Thursday afternoon's win.

For that to happen, USC needs to continue to feed its scorers, play suffocating defense, attack the rim aggressively on offense and defense and use that most precious commodity in sports - confidence - to its best advantage.

Three keys to victory

BELIEVE: It sounds corny, but young teams need good things to go their way for the lessons of practice and workouts to truly sink in. Right now, that's happening, and it couldn't come at a more crucial time.

LET THE BIG DOG EAT: Sindarius Thornwell is proving himself a remarkable player night after night. Not only has he maintained - and improved - his scoring in SEC play, he has taken ownership of the team and leadership of it both on the court and in practice. Feed this man the basketball and allow his example to inspire a group of players around him who will be the nucleus of the transformation of the basketball program under Frank Martin.

GO FOR SECONDS: Against the Commodores, the Gamecocks were beasts on the boards, especially offensively. That is a perfect recipe for success when the shots aren't falling, and there will be plenty of times this season - maybe even today - when that's the case.

Probable starting lineups:

South Carolina
G - #0 Sindarius Thornwell, 6-5, 206 Fr. (13.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
G - #1 Brent Williams, 5-11, 172 Sr. (13.8 ppg., 1.9 rpg.)
G - #10 Duane Notice, 6-2, 221 Fr. (7.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
F - #24 Michael Carrera, 6-5, 214 So. (6.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
F - #21 Demetrius Henry, 6-9, 215 Fr. (4.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg)

Alabama
G - #00 Algie Key, 6-4, 195 Jr. (4.5 ppg, 2.86 rpg)
G - #12 Trevor Releford, 6-0, 190 Sr. (18.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
G - #21 Rodney Cooper, 6-6, 215 Jr. (7.8 ppg., 5.1 rpg.)
F - #11 Shannon Hale, 6-8, 220 Fr. (7.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
F - #15 Nick Jacobs, 6-8, 245 Jr. (8.7 ppg., 3.6 rpg)

Next game: South Carolina travels to Arkansas on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.



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