"Giant Killers" Gardner Webb Comes Gunning

The Gamecocks will take on the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs Tuesday night at the Colonial Life Arena. The game marks the midpoint of a busy holiday week that will see Carolina play three games in seven days. Gardner-Webb comes to Columbia 0-3, but they have a history of strong play against major conference opponents.

Most famously, of course, Gardner-Webb defeated Kentucky 84-68 at Rupp Arena last season. This year, the Bulldogs have not been able to replicate that shocker, but they have come close, losing the three games by a total of eight points. Most recently, Gardner-Webb took 12th ranked Oklahoma down to the wire, losing 80-76 in Norman.

"They're a really dangerous basketball team," said Darrin Horn. "They shoot the ball extremely well. They're outstanding in transition. It's a game that definitely presents some challenges for us."

South Carolina has played Gardner-Webb just once before, winning 83-74 in 2003. Coincidentally, the Gamecocks are averaging 83 points per game this year, and the Bulldogs are averaging 74. Both teams want to play an up-tempo pace, but Gardner-Webb plays almost exclusively zone defense.

"They've sat back in it for –I'm not going to say 40 minutes – but a large majority of their last two games," Horn said. It's just what they do."

Last year, and at a few times this season, zones have given Carolina nightmares. The tendency has been to take quick threes rather than move the ball around to find a weak spot in the zone. That is exactly, what the Bulldogs want, so the Gamecocks have to fight against that urge.

"They made some shots, got out in transition and made some easy ones" against Oklahoma, said Horn. "Early on in the game Oklahoma shot six threes in eight trips. You get lulled into playing their game. That's something that we've got to be careful about."

So far in this young season, the most encouraging thing for Horn has been Carolina's quick starts. The Gamecocks have come out of the locker room with a lot of energy, and jumped out to leads of 11-0, 19-0, and 24-7.

"The one thing we've done well is we've been ready to play every night," Horn said. "They've come out with great defensive intensity to start games."

For the third straight game, Carolina will trot out the same lineup. Branden Conrad will continue to start in place of Brandis Raley-Ross. Sam Muldrow once again will not play due to academic issues.

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