USC Visits The Hawgs This Aftternoon At Bud Walton

No. 25 South Carolina, (20-5, 7-4), is at Arkansas this afternoon for a 3:05 pm tip-off (EST) against the Razorbacks. Last Saturday, with an 82-75 win over Vanderbilt, USC collected its second 20 win season under USC Head Coach Dave Odom after going 12-16 last year. In Odom's first season at USC, the Gamecocks finished 22-15, losing 72-62 to Memphis in the title game of the NIT Championship ...

Arkansas enters the game at 11-12 and 3-9 in the SEC. They lost at Kentucky on Wednesday night, 73-56. The Backs struggled to shoot the ball, shooting just 29 percent in the first half and finished at 37 percent from the field for the game. UA was led by Jonathon Modica (14 points) and Eric Ferguson (12 points). Matt Jones led the team with nine rebounds.

The Razorbacks are headed up by second-year head coach Stan Heath. UA was 9-19 last year with a 4-12 SEC record. They finished tired for fifth in the SEC West. They returned two starters and eight letterwinners.

Not that guy

USC fans might recognize a familiar Razorback FOOTBALL player on the court against the Gamecocks. Forward Matt Jones is averaging 5.0 ppg and 4.3 rpg and has started five of the 12 games he has played in this year.

As a quarterback on the gridiron versus the Garnet and Black, televised nationally on ESPN, Jones was 11-14 for 148 passing yards and three touchdowns in Little Rock in 2003, coming away with a 28-6 win. Jones also carried the ball three times for 11 yards. Jones led the Razorbacks to an Independence-bowl berth.

Playing at Bud Walton

USC might feel a bit more at home this year in Arkansas than in year's past due to the fact that the same two architects designed Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville and The Colonial Center in Columbia. Arkansas leads the all-time series 9-4, including a 4-2 record in Arkansas.

USC has won the last two meetings at Arkansas, including a 62-60 win at Arkansas in 2002 and a 76-65 win in 2000. USC has won back-to-back meetings with the 'Backs and South Carolina has pulled out three of the last four in the series.

Against the SEC on the road

The Gamecocks are 3-2 on the road this season against SEC opponents. After winning the first three against Georgia, Auburn, and Vanderbilt the Gamecocks have dropped road games against Ole Miss and No. 6 Kentucky.

Last year vs. the Hawgs

The Gamecocks defeated Arkansas 72-65 in Columbia last season. The Gamecocks were led by Chris Warren with 23 points, Tony Kitchings with 15 and Chuck Eidson with 14. Carlos Powell scored only six points in 13 minutes played while Rolando Howell scored nine in 29 minutes. Kerbrell Brown was one of six from the floor but brought down eight rebounds. The Razorbacks were led by Eric Ferguson with 20 and Jonathon Modica with 17.

The Leader of the Pack

If the junior from Florence, S.C., Carlos Powell, continues to lead the Gamecocks in points and rebounding for the rest of the year he will be the first Gamecock to lead the team in scoring and rebounding since Linwood Moye during the 1984-85 season.

Coach Speak

USC Head Coach Dave Odom and Arkansas Head Coach Stan Heath both spoke to the media via the SEC tele-conference on Thursday.

"Arkansas is quite a challenge when you look at it," said Odom. "They've got some of the best young players in the SEC and have one of the most intimidating home courts in the league as well. They will rebound well from their loss at Kentucky last night. They have so many players who are interchangeable who can play many different positions. They play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and will be looking for a win."

"Dave Odom has done a great job with the South Carolina program," said Heath. "Fortunately, we are playing them at home. Our team seems to play much better at home. They really seem to respond well to the crowd here in Fayetteville. It's a big challenge in front of us in South Carolina. They are playing very well and are having a great season."

Five Weeks Old

USC remained in the nation's top 25 this week for the fourth straight week. USC is No. 25 in the Associated Press poll, after peaking at No. 24 three weeks ago. USC also maintained the No. 22 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll - a season high. season highs. USC is also ranked No. 23 in CBSSportsline.com's top 25 poll.

As of Thursday, Feb. 19, USC is ranked No. 18 in the Sagarin ratings with its SOS ranking at 124 - season highs. On collegerpi.com, USC is ranked No. 36 (a season high) with a SOS of 91. On Sportsline.com, USC's RPI is No. 38 and its strength of schedule is rated at 111 - both season highs.

Middle Men

The Gamecocks have 151 blocks in 25 games while they had 92 last season in 28 games. The Gamecocks are averaging more than six blocks a game with five regular season games remaining (including Arkansas). Right now the six blocks per game is the highest total for USC since averaging seven a game during the 1972-73 season. The 72-73 team recorded 203 blocks in 29 games, the most by any Carolina squad. The next two are 176 in 1972 (6.1 per game/2nd), and 167 in 1991.

In the overtime loss to No. 6 Mississippi State Rolando Howell had a career high five blocks and Renaldo Balkman had a career-high four blocks. USC had 10 blocks in that game to MSU's one.

Leading the team in blocks is Balkman with 37. In second is freshman Brandon Wallace with 30. Tony Kitchings led the team last year with 27 while Howell was second with 19.

19? Say What?

The 19 turnovers that the Gamecocks committed in last Saturday's win against Vanderbilt tied the season high. USC turned the ball over 19 times against Campbell on November 29 and against Georgia on January 10. All three games were wins for the Gamecocks. Five times this season, the Gamecocks have had 10 or fewer turnovers in a game. USC is 4-1 in those games. The Gamecocks are averaging 13.2 turnovers a game this season. Since the 1971-72 season, the lowest total per game is 13.3 in 1978-79 and in 2002-03.

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