USC hopes to get back on track in Lexington

Just when things started to turnaround for the USC men's basketball team, the Gamecocks found themselves on the losing end of back-to-back games against SEC West opponents. Carolina fell by a combined eight points to Auburn (80-75) and Alabama (64-61) after winning two straight SEC games.

"In looking at our tape from Saturday it is clear that we did not execute down the stretch," USC coach Dave Odom said. "At this level, really at any level, you've got to execute when the game is on the line."

The back-to-back losses drop Carolina to 12-9 overall and just 2-6 in the SEC. The tasks don't get any easier for USC as they travel to SEC East rival Kentucky for a mid-week match-up on Wednesday evening. The Wildcats (17-5, 6-2 SEC) cracked the top 25 last week after earning a 82-74 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The last time USC and Kentucky tangoed, the Gamecocks put the cap on their four game losing streak by dropping a 87-49 decision to the Wildcats in Columbia. Carolina would go on to win its next two ball games before its recent skid.

"Obviously the last time we played they handled us in the second half as easy as any team has," Odom said. "I think we're a different team now than we were then. We were beat up a lot more than we are now. It still doesn't matter; you've still got to play the game. I think we just caved in which I certainly don't like myself."

Just like last Saturday's game against Alabama, USC guard Tre' Kelley will find himself at the center of the game's key match-up as the All-SEC caliber point guard will do battle with Kentucky's Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley. Bradley, who is eighth in the SEC with 15.5 points per game, will be matching up with Kelley, whose 16.8 points per outing places in him in the top three in conference play.

"Obviously we know what we're facing I think in Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley," Odom said. "They've got as good of perimeter tandem as there is in our league. Those guys stand out to me. They're strong where we're not so strong."

The challenge for USC will once again be playing a top tier SEC team on the road, this time on a two game skid that has Odom ready to step on the court.

"We've got a lot of work to do to get ready for tomorrow night, but it's a game I look forward to," Odom said "Their record at home is outstanding to say the least. The challenge of winning is great. But that's where great sports stories are made."

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