SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (4-0)
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON COUGARS (4-1)
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Carolina First Arena, Charleston
Tickets:Available at the box office
South Carolina's probable starters: G Devan Downey 5-9 Jr. (16.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg); G Zam Fredrick 6-0 Sr. (17.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg); G Branden Conrad 6-2 Sr. (5.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg); F Dominique Archie 6-7 Jr. (9.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg); F/C Mike Holmes 6-7 So. (12.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg)
College of Charleston's probable starters: G Tony White 6-0 Jr. (8.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg); G Andrew Goudelock 6-0 So. (17.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg); F Dustin Scott 6-8 Sr. (11.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg); F Antwaine Wiggins 6-7 So. (10.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg); F Jermaine Johnson 6-7 So. (9.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
Notes: The Gamecocks hit the road for the first time this season after four convincing home wins to open the season. ... USC is 27-1 against the Cougars all-time. ... USC sophomore forward Sam Muldrow remains academically suspended and junior guard Brandis Raley-Ross is still out with a knee injury, although his rehab is progressing (he's off crutches but is still out for at least two weeks). The Gamecocks have only nine players available for the fourth straight game. ... Johnson only needs six points to become the 24th Cougar to reach 1,000 career points. ... The Cougars only have four South Carolina natives on the team and each team (Evka Baniulis for USC and Tauras Skripkaukas) has a Lithuanian on the roster.
Next game: USC plays at Princeton at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
And this one's no frivolous expedition just because the car had a half-tank of gas in it and there was an empty Friday night on the calendar.
"As a general rule of scheduling, you don't want to be the dedication game for someone's building," South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said on Wednesday, tongue planted firmly in cheek. "But it's a great game with an in-state school, and obviously we have so much respect for coach (Bobby) Cremins and the fact that he's a Gamecock, and so we're really looking forward to it."
The Gamecocks (4-0) begin a rocky stretch of their season tonight with a game at College of Charleston (4-1), the first of a two-game road swing that will take USC to the Lowcountry and then to New Jersey on Tuesday. The Cougars would be plenty dangerous enough as a long, athletic, deep team that Horn credits for having so many versatile players that aren't just plugged into one position.
But CofC is dedicating its new arena tonight, with former longtime coach John Kresse in the house, against its current coach's alma mater.
Yep, might be a little more emotion on the hardwood tonight.
"I feel like this is going to be a good test for the team," point guard Devan Downey said after USC's 85-70 win over Gardner-Webb earlier this week. "This is going to be the first time we're going to go into a hostile environment. They're going to be excited.
"I don't think things will change for us. It's an opportunity for us to do what we do."
Cremins is well-known for his USC ties as a player from 1968-70 under coach Frank McGuire and for his three-day stint as USC's coach in 1993. There's no animosity toward him for his abrupt switcheroo -- he got ovations from the USC crowd when he brought the Cougars to Columbia each of the past two years -- and Horn said he holds tremendous respect for Cremins' coaching abilities.
He's just hoping tonight's not the night Cremins decides to beat his old school for the first time.
"I think it's going to be a huge challenge," Horn said. "I don't think there's any question -- the most talented, deepest team we've played."
The Gamecocks had a bit of a rushed schedule with the Thanksgiving holiday thrown in -- some of the close-to-home players got to go grab a quick meal with their families before coming back to campus, while some of the others went to Horn's house for dinner. The team was set to meet on Thursday evening and will head to Charleston this morning.
The Gamecocks will be playing a team similar to themselves -- a lot of speed, not so much height but guys that are 6-foot-7, 6-8 with massive wingspans. The Cougars have beaten SIU-Edwardsville, TCU, Charleston Southern and S.C. State while their only loss was to Temple.
Charleston has superior depth to USC, but that's a familiar refrain. The Gamecocks will again take the floor with only nine available players, but were able to get through their last game with just eight (center Mitchell Carter, who picked up a small cut above his right eye two games ago, did not play against Gardner-Webb due to a coach's decision).
It should be an evenly matched game. It's definitely a chance to see how USC reacts to playing away from home for the first time this year.
Plus, Charleston's not the only team going for a milestone win. If the Gamecocks win tonight, Horn will match Johnnie McMillan as the only USC coaches to go 5-0 in their first years at the school.
"I did not know that, and no, it does not mean anything to me," Horn said. "College of Charleston means something to me right now."
FUNNY GUY: Horn said he expected around three or four players at his house for Thanksgiving and tossed in a one-liner worth of Steve Spurrier.
"We better have it finalized by this evening, though, or there's going to be one person preparing the meal who's not going to be happy," Horn said. "Regardless of the record."