Previewing South Carolina

No. 1 North Carolina continues its four-game, seven-day stretch with a trip to play South Carolina in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational. Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. on ESPN2. The winner will play UNLV or Southern Cal on Saturday night.

North Carolina (4-0) vs. South Carolina (2-2)
Las Vegas, Nev. -- Orleans Arena
10:00pm -- ESPN2 (Jon Sciambi, Jay Bilas)


"It's an opportunity. It's going to be a great stage. We won't have to worry about our guys getting up for it. That probably goes without saying. It gives us an opportunity to test ourselves and have a chance to do something. We're looking forward to that." – South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn


Season to Date: South Carolina enters Friday's contest with a 2-2 record. The Gamecocks won their season opener against Western Carolina (75-50) before dropping two straight to Elon (58-53) and Tennessee State (64-63). Fourth-year head coach Darrin Horn's squad rebounded on Tuesday with a 61-57 victory over Mississippi Valley State. South Carolina finished the '10-11 season with a 14-16 (5-11 SEC) record.

Roster Dismantled: Horn emerged from the '10-11 season expecting to have four returning starters for this year's club, but that potential luxury crumbled away as the season arrived. Sam Muldrow (11.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg in '10-‘11) exhausted his eligibility, but leading scoring Bruce Ellington (12.8 ppg) elected to play football with an expectation to return for the spring semester. Two other penciled-in starters – Ramon Galloway (10.7 ppg) and Ole Miss transfer Murphy Holloway – transferred out of the program last spring. Galloway was reportedly unhappy with his role on the team and Holloway elected to return to Mississippi. Reserve Stephen Spinella also transferred during the offseason.

Youth Served: Due to that roster shakeup, Horn was forced to start two freshmen and two sophomores alongside fifth-year senior forward Malik Cooke in Tuesday's win over Mississippi Valley State. Cooke leads the team with 11.8 points per game, while sophomore guard Eric Smith is averaging 10.3 points per contest. Freshmen Damien Leonard and Anthony Gill are both scoring 8.3 points per game.

Guard Sidelined: Junior college transfer Brenton Williams scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and collected five steals in his first game in a Gamecock uniform against Western Carolina, but the sophomore sprained his left knee in the first half against Tennessee State and will miss 2-4 weeks of action.

Troubling Statistics: The Gamecocks are currently ninth or worse in the SEC in six offensive categories – scoring offense (63.0, 11th), free throw percentage (62.0, 9th), field goal percentage (40.3, 10th), 3-point field goal percentage (.253, 11th), assists (10.5, 12th) and 3-point field goals made (5.3, 10th).

More Stats of Note: In its last three games, South Carolina is averaging 26 points in the paint, 13.3 points off turnovers and 11 second-chance points.

Random Fact of the Day: UNC sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall has more assists (43) than the entire South Carolina roster (42) in the same number of games this season (4).

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Gamecocks, 86-75, on Dec. 7, 1996, at the Tournament of Champions in Charlotte, N.C.

Series History: UNC leads the overall series, 57-21, after playing at least twice every year from the inception of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953 until South Carolina left the league in 1971.

Projected Starters:
5 Eric Smith (5-11, 210, So.) - 10.3 ppg, 2.3 apg
32 Damien Leondard (6-4, 192, Fr.) - 8.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg
15 Malik Cooke (6-6, 215, Sr.) - 11.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
13 Anthony Gill (6-8, 235, Fr.) - 8.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
24 Damontre Harris (6-9, 226, So.) - 5.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg

Top Reserves:
30 Lakeem Jackson (6-5, 238, Jr.) - 5.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg
33 R.J. Slawson (6-8, 207, So.) - 5.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
2 Brian Richardson (6-4, 171, So.) - 2.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg
45 Carlton Geathers (6-10, 250, Fr.) - 1.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg

USC Info
Roster & Bios

Inside Carolina Top Stories