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March 14, 2014

Hoops preview: SEC Tournament-Vols

No. 13 South Carolina (14-19) v. No. 4 Tennessee (20-11)
When: Approximately 3:30 p.m.
Where: Georgia Dome (26,000)
Series: Arkansas leads 15-11
Last meeting: Arkansas win 71-64, on Feb. 19, 2014, in Fayetteville, Ark.

ATLANTA - History and the University of Tennessee haven't been kind to the University of South Carolina.

The Gamecocks have lost 13 straight basketball games to the Volunteers, including at the Georgia Dome the last time USC won an SEC Tournament game in 2008. The streak goes back to 2007, an 81-64 win on Feb. 17 at the Colonial Life Arena.

The present hasn't been so kind, either.

The Volunteers were up by 23 at halftime and blew out the Gamecocks in Knoxville by 19 on Feb. 8 in a game that was never close. Other than Sindarius Thornwell's 15 points, no other Gamecock scored in double figures against the Volunteers.

"I think that we played really bad (against UT earlier)," Michael Carrera said. "I think we have to become more focused. We have a big job. They have really good players and we just have to pay attention to the scouting report.

"Everything that the coach tells us to do, we have to do it."

If anything, the Volunteers are playing better now than they were in early February. Tennessee's last three wins have come by a combined total of 93 points, the largest three-game margin in SEC play for the Vols since 1965.

"The problem for us is we're playing better, but so is Tennessee," USC head coach Frank Martin said. "And Tennessee, you can argue, Tennessee's playing better than anyone in our league right now, including Florida.

"When we went in there, I don't think (Jordan) McRae missed a shot, and he's a hard matchup because he's so competitive.

"So we've got our hands full, but like I told the guys, this time of year, don't expect an easy one. Be a man, be excited that you have a great opportunity."

Three keys to victory

BELIEVE: South Carolina has now won three straight games and four of five, th only loss coming to the nation's No. 1 team. With this two-game run in the SEC Tournament, it's clear that USC is playing its best basketball now. Continue to believe that this season still has something to offer, that they can beat whomever they play and that there's some magic left in those sneakers. Play like you know you're going to win, like you know something Tennessee doesn't.

REVIVE BRENT: Brent Williams had only one field goal and no 3-pointers against Arkansas, and yet the Gamecocks still won. That's a good sign. With some rest, encouragement and the motivation to keep his senior season going as long as possible, expect Williams to rebound with a big game. The team has said they're playing to keep his final season going. Today, Brent should do the same.

ATTACK EARLY: One advantage South Carolina had over Arkansas and will have over Tennessee today is that both teams hadn't played an SEC Tournament game before facing the Gamecocks. Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said his team played tentatively, and USC should attack the Vols early to take advantage of their first game in this environment. The last time USC won more than one game in Atlanta was 2006, when the Gamecocks' march to the tournament championship included a win over Tennessee.

Probable starting lineups:

South Carolina
G - #0 Sindarius Thornwell, 6-5, 206 Fr. (13.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
G - #1 Brent Williams, 5-11, 172 Sr. (15.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
F - #24 Michael Carrera, 6-5, 214 So. (6.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
F - #25 Midaugas Kacinas, 6-7, 210 So. (5.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
F - #21 Demetrius Henry, 6-9. 215 Fr. (4.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

G - #2 Antonio Barton, 6-2, 180 Sr. (7.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
G - #52 Jordan McRae, 6-6, 185 Sr. (18.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G - #1 Josh Richardson, 6-6, 190 Jr. (9.5 ppg., 2.9 rpg.)
F - #34 Jerome Maymon, 6-8, 260 Sr. (10.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
C - #5 Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, 260, Jr. (14.5 ppg., 10.3 rpg)

South Carolina NEWS


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