Charleston Southern appeared intent on applying a 2-3 zone in an effort to stop the Gamecocks, much as Temple had done so effectively, yet the Gamecocks made short work of the Bucs' defense while displaying a much improved offense from around the perimeter arch.
"I liked the way we prepared after the Temple loss. We came together pretty well, particularly after the developments of the past 24-48 hours." said Dave Odom referring to the loss of three players prior to the game.
Odom and his Gamecocks had lost the services of two starters in Tarence Kinsey and Josh Gonner for the contest against the Buccaneers. Kinsey suffered a mild concussion in Philadephia Monday night and Gonner was suspended prior to the game by coach Dave Odom for an unspecified violation of team rules.
In the meantime, backup guard Jarod Gerald has been declared academically ineligible and has withdrawn from school.
The loss of key players did not seem to adversely affect the play of the remaining Gamecocks - especially on defense.
"Once we became more aggressive we got more into the style of our game," said Odom. "Defensively, we did a nice job on the perimeter. I'd like to give Carlos Powell some credit. The last five minutes of the first half he really led our defensive charge. That stretch was the best defense he's played since he's been here. I'd like to see him play like that more often."
USC continues to give teams fits defensively with their record setting pace when it comes to steals. Tonight's game was no exception as the Gamecocks forced the Bucs into 15 turnovers, many converted into easy baskets by the Cocks.
"The length of our guys' arms really contributes to our defensive ability," noted Odom. "Brandon Wallace is like a lizard's tongue. He just sticks his arms out there and scoops up the basketball."
In holding Charleston Southern to 36 points, the 2003/04 Gamecocks held an opponent to its fewest points since January 1971, when Maryland defeated John Roche and Company 31-30 in overtime. The other parrallel so far for this team is that it is off to the second best start in team history since the 1971 squad took the court.
The Gamecocks non-conference winning streak at The Colonial Center will be tested this Saturday when the North Carolina State Wolfpack ventures into Columbia to renue an old and storied former ACC heated-rivalry. Dave Odom was clearly thinking ahead after Wednesday night's game.
"NC State will clearly be the best team we've played to date. Julius Hodge is one of the top 25 players in the country and Marcus Melvin is not too far behind. We have a lot of work to do the next couple of days. They have some big-time players. I expect both teams to play well."
Tickets are still available for the game which is expected to be a sellout. Gamecock fans are encouraged to turn-out en force for the Saturday night contest against the Wolfpack.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (2-5) Drafts 3-10 0-0 6, Rice 3-9 3-4 9, Jegdic 0-0 0-0
O O'Neil 0-4 0-0 0, T.Brown 1-5 0-0 2
Harrison 1-3 0-0 2, Covington 1-4 1-2 4, Farley 1-3 0-0 3
Cain 1-3 0-0 2, Stiglbauer 1-3 0-0 2, Ball 3-7 0-0 6.
Totals 15-51 4-6 36. SOUTH CAROLINA (9-1) Powell 6-12 3-5 16, K.Brown 1-5 2-3 4, Wallace 2-7 2-2 7
Boynton 4-6 2-3 14, Balkman 4-9 3-6 12
Kelley 2-4 3-4 7, Howell 1-2 0-0 2
Joneliunas 1-5 0-0 2, Everett 1-1 0-0 3, Chappell 2-3 0-0 4
Totals 24-54 15-23 71. Halftime-SCarolina 34-18.
3-Point goals-Charleston Southern 2-15 (Covington 1-3, Farley 1-3
Harrison 0-1, T.Brown 0-2, Drafts 0-3, O'Neil 0-3)
SCarolina 8-16 (Boynton 4-6, Everett 1-1
Balkman 1-2, Powell 1-2, Wallace 1-2
Kelley 0-1, Howell 0-1, K.Brown 0-1).
Rebounds-Charleston Southern 35 (Harrison, Rice 6)
SCarolina 37 (Balkman, Wallace 9)
Assists-Charleston Southern 9 (O'Neil 3)
SCarolina 16 (Wallace, Boynton 4)
Total fouls-Charleston Southern 21, SCarolina 9.