USC tops century mark in win over The Citadel
After two games, the scouting report on Carolina is pretty clear: slow down the game, and you slow down the Gamecocks. However, that is much easier said than done when the human fast break, Devan Downey, is on the court.
"He was a true spark with his defensive presence, stealing the ball," said Dave Odom. "The defense that they played was a match-up type zone, and we have an offense that we run against those kind of defenses. I think it's good that we probe at the half court level some. You're not going to be able to always run and shoot and get layups. I thought we were patient early and we were rewarded for being patient early late."
In the season opener against S.C. State, Downey tied his career high in scoring with 24. Against The Citadel, Downey did not have to score, instead he set career highs with 9 rebounds and 6 steals, and tied a career high with 11 assists. For good measure, he added 11 points. Odom was aware that Downey needed just one more rebound when he pulled him from the game with 5:25 to play, but he barely considered letting the point guard back in the game.
"Only when he asked me to put him back in," Odom said. "I'm not sure exactly how he found out about it [being so close to a triple double]. Had I put him back in and some injury had occurred, I would have never forgiven myself."
"I tried to tell Coach to put me back in," Downey smiled. "He wouldn't do it, which he isn't supposed to."
Perhaps the best sign for Carolina was that, after being outrebounded in the exhibition against Division III Guilford and again versus S.C. State, the Gamecocks nearly doubled up The Citadel on the boards, 51-27.
"It's our best rebounding performance in a long, long time," said Odom. "We've worked on [rebounding] really conscientiously for the last two or three days."
Also encouraging was the play of forward Dominique Archie, the only returning full-time starter from last season. Archie did not make much of an impact against S.C. State as he seemed to be still trying to find his way on this new look team. Monday night he made much more of an impact, scoring 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds.
"Dominique Archie didn't play his best against South Carolina State," Odom said, "but he came back tonight and played extremely well."
Archie was part of a very balanced effort by Carolina. Six players scored between 10 and 14 points. Ten different players played at least 10 minutes, and only Zam Fredrick, who played 31 minutes, played more than 30.
"It's good to have players at every spot that can attack and actually score," said Odom.
As the game wound down, Carolina was stuck at 99 points. With a chance for the Gamecocks to reach 100 points for the first time since 1996, the crowd started chanting "We want 100!" Branden Conrad obliged, swishing a three pointer from the top off the key. Just for good measure, Dwayne Day stole the ball on the ensuing possession and was fouled, hitting one of two from the line for the final margin.
"I'm happy about that, for sure," Odom said. "I think it's the kind of performance our players like and the kind of performance that our fans appreciate. I want it to continue."
The point total and victory margin set a slew of records for Carolina. The victory margin tied for the third largest in Gamecock history with a 1918 win over 402nd Signal Battalion, 68-7. The only greater victory margins were 66 (an 80-14 win over the Florence Stars in 1948) and 75 (an 84-9 win over Presbyterian in 1934).
- Downey was one rebound shy of a triple double, which would have been just the second in school history. Chuck Eidson had Carolina's only triple double when he scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds and 10 assists against S.C. State on November 29, 2002.
- 103 points is the most ever scored in a men's basketball game at the Colonial Center. The previous high was 99 by Vanderbilt last season. Downey's 11 assists tied the Colonial Center record set by Kentucky's Cliff Hawkins on March 3, 2004.
- Sam Muldrow started for Mike Holmes, who had a bruised heel, though Holmes still played.
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