USC Looks For Consistency, Balance In Texas

The Gamecocks will visit Baylor University in Waco, TX on Saturday evening looking for consistency and a mixture of physicality and shot making. The Baylor Bears are 6-1, presenting their best start in three years, but that may not mean much when they hit the floor against the similarly matched Gamecocks.

The Bears have really just one quality win, against Colorado State, 87-82. Their other wins have come against Angelo State, Texas Southern, Alcorn State, Grambling, and Texas State. The lone loss came against Gonzaga, 69-78.

With Baylor returning 10 lettermen from the previous season's roster, they have been able to place four players scoring in double figures each game, while getting great point production off the bench. Their cohesive play has generated 100 assists in 7 games, but their aggressive play has also produced 87 turnovers. Head Coach Scott Drew says, "We've got a very unselfish group of players, and they enjoy when a teammate does well. We've stayed away from playing one-on-one basketball because it isn't going to help us in the long run."

The Bears will generally start 6-9 F Kevin Rogers (12.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg), 7-0 C Mamadou Diene (6 ppg, 7rpg), 6-1 G Curtis Jerrells (13.7 ppg, 4.0 apg), 6-0 G Henry Dugat (14.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg), 6-3 G Aaron Bruce (11.4 ppg 5.1 apg). Expect to see 6-6 F Tim Bush, 5-10 G Tweety Carter, and 7-0 C Josh Lomers get significant minutes off the bench.

Coach Dave Odom will be looking to find seven players that are ready to start playing and shooting consistently, as they did against the College of Charleston on Monday night. Senior forward Brandon Wallace could be key. With the seven foot Diene's blocking capability having to move to the perimeter during the half court sets, Odom's offense could make the Bears work more than they have during five of their six wins. Good shot selection, finding the open man quickly, and defensive rebounding will be crucial in this game.

Both teams will place solid floor leaders between the lines, with Tre Kelly clearly leading the Gamecocks with 14.4 ppg and 5.4 apg. The host team will counter with Aaron Bruce, a good open shot shooter, who was held to zero points against Gonzaga, including 0-6 shooting from long range. However, he then bounced back to 6-9 and 3-6 from three point range, respectively against Alcorn State and Grambling.

The Bears are big, physical, and solid with four rotation players weighing between 235 to 265lbs. USC must be ready to play physical basketball, solid defense, run the floor on each occasion available to minimize the size advantage, and as in every game this year, make open shots created by penetration and offensive rotation. Look for the Gamecocks to build some much needed confidence against a quality Baylor program with good athletes. If the Gamecocks are to win, it must happen on the heels of added support performances from Bryce Sheldon on the perimeter, and added board work from the guard position by Brandis Raley-Ross and Dwayne Day.

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