Gamecocks Head West to battle Crimson Tide

After having their two-game conference win streak snapped by Auburn Wednesday night, USC will continue their trek through the jumbled SEC West with a trip to No. 19 Alabama on Saturday at 3 pm.

"We came back to practice yesterday and I was very pleased with their attitude, their effort and the things that we did to try and correct the mistakes we made on (Wednesday)," Head Coach Dave Odom said.

Those mistakes, including a lackluster defensive effort against Auburn, had Odom concerned about what could happen against an Alabama team loaded with talent.

"As you'll remember back in October when we did the SEC, they were one of the favorites, particularly on the West side," Odom said. "As you look their roster you can understand why. They still are a formidable group."

The marquee match-up of the game will be between two of the SEC*s best point guards in Alabama's Ronald Steele and Carolina's Tre' Kelley. Both players were tabbed as All-SEC candidates prior the season's beginning. Steele, who averages 9.7 points per game, has led his team to a top 25 ranking the entire season while Kelley is third in the SEC in scoring per game with an average of 16.9 points. Both guards come into the game nursing injuries as both Kelley and Steele have injured legs.

Aside from the guard play, Odom points to freshmen forward Dominique Archie who will draw the assignment of Alabama*s second leading scorer in Richard Hendrix (14.5 ppg).

"Dominique is our most effective defender right now overall. In our last seven games, he has taken on the players that concern me the most," Odom said. "In this game he*ll take on Richard Hendrix. So he's gone from point guard duty to low post duty. With Hendrix at 265 and having an inch on him, we*ve got to get him some help. That's going to be a long afternoon of pounding. It does take its toil."

The post issues will not fall solely on Archie*s shoulders, as Odom hopes to give the undersized player help from his teammates forcing the Tide to take different shot selections.

"We've got to get back in the lane to give our post defenders some help,* Odom said. "We've got to force their offense to the perimeter and try and get some transition baskets ourselves so we don't have to face the size of their team each time down."

Even with the less than stellar record, Carolina has played well on the road this season, going 4-3 on the road including wins at Southern California, Baylor and Mississippi State. But with a sold out house in Tuscaloosa, Odom knows the task could be daunting for his team.

"Our team has played reasonably well on the road. I don't think our team is fearful when we go on the road," Odom said. "Tomorrow I'm sure they're going to have a big crowd. It says sold out and God bless them for it. It may be as difficult a place to play in the SEC, I think. It*ll be a hard game for us but it's a game I*m looking forward to. I think our players are as well. I think our team right now is continuing to improve."

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