Gamecocks set to host Presbyterian

The Gamecocks (8-1) will take the court one more time before the Christmas break, Tuesday night against Presbyterian (5-6). The Blue Hose are not only Carolina's final opponent before the break, but the final tune-up for the rivalry game against Clemson.

Against The Citadel, Horn made the first change in the starting lineup for reason other than injury. He elected to start Austin Steed over Mike Holmes. Holmes responded with a strong effort, controlling the paint and scoring 14 points to go with 11 rebounds, suggesting the benching had gotten his attention. Despite the considerable evidence to the contrary, Horn denied having benched Holmes, or trying to send a message.

"Mike Holmes wasn't benched, we played the guys that played the best in practice, and that happened to be Austin Steed," said Horn. "I thought Mike played really well. It wasn't about trying to get a response, it was about rewarding the guys who had been the best in practice."

As of Tuesday afternoon, when he spoke with the media, Horn had not decided on the starting lineup against the Blue Hose. For perhaps the first time this season, Horn would appear to have some options with the starting lineup. He has already shown his willingness to start Steed over Holmes, and Brandis Raley-Ross seemed to return to his pre-injury form against The Citadel, allowing Horn to choose between Raley-Ross and Evka Baniulis, who got his first start of the year Saturday.

"Honestly, I haven't even thought about that," he said. "I don't know what we'll do tomorrow."

The Gamecocks and Blue Hose have not played since 1947, and Presbyterian is hardly an attention getting name on the schedule (save for their unusual nickname). That raises the prospect of South Carolina's players looking ahead to Clemson, or, more probably, the Christmas break.

"I think they have done a good job of focusing in," said Horn. "This team has been pretty good about that and showed a good approach."

Presbyterian does present an interesting challenge for the Gamecocks. The Blue Hose prefer to slow the game down, while Carolina will seek to get into an up-tempo game. Presbyterian also has a talented post player in Al'Lonzo Coleman, who leads the Blue Hose with 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest.

"Anytime you play a team that has good perimeter shooting and an inside player who's productive, it's a challenge for your defense," said Horn. "We're going to need to come out much better than we did on Saturday and try to establish tempo and do a good job early on of not letting them get easy baskets."

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