Gamecocks return home to host Florida

For the second game in a row, the Gamecocks will take on the 24th ranked team in the country. After falling 82-79 at then number 24 Tennessee, Carolina will play host to current number 24 Florida Wednesday night at the Colonial Life Arena. Wednesday is also student appreciation night, and the Athletics Department will unveil the new student section, the "Garnet Army."

"Our student fans are of the utmost importance to us because of the energy they bring in the arena," said coach Darrin Horn. "The big thing I want them to know is they're a part of us. We're all in it together, and I think it's going to take all of us to be the team we want to be on our home court in league play."

The name Garnet Army was chosen from almost 350 possible names submitted. It was chosen over "Cockpit" and "Cocky's Corner," the two runners up. The first 750 students at Wednesday night's game will receive a free t-shirt that says Garnet Army on a garnet and black camouflage design. Horn was modeling the shirt when he spoke to the media Tuesday, to mixed results.

"I don't know if you can call camo loud," Horn chided one reporter who apparently found the t-shirt garish. "It's supposed to have a blending effect."

"I don't see [Horn] jumping in the crowd with them. He was just promoting it," said senior guard Zam Fredrick. "It's going to be crazy looking over there and seeing [the students] in those fatigues."

"No comment," was all junior forward Dominique Archie had to say about Horn's fashion statement.

Support from the students, and the fans in general, would be a big assist against the Gators. Florida has defeated South Carolina five straight times, and 14 out of 16 times. Florida's two wins last season came by a total of five points, so the Gamecocks feel like they have a chance to end the streak, especially if they can get the crowd behind them.

"You have to win at home," Horn said. "It's hard for everybody on the road. It's hard on the road in league play, […] and that's why it is so important to play well at home."

The matchup will feature two of the SEC's top point guards. Florida is led in scoring (17.7 points), assists (6.7 assists), and steals (2.2 steals) by Nick Calathes, while Carolina's Devan Downey leads the Gamecocks in the same three categories (19.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 steals). At 6'6", Calathes does not look like a typical point guard, especially standing next to the 5'9" Downey, but that does not mitigate his effectiveness.

"I think he's terrific," said Horn. "He's as good as we've seen with the ball in his hands. He's one of those rare talents that has great skill level and great feel and all of those things. He's a basketball player."

"He pretty much is the general of that team," said Fredrick. "We're not changing anything that we do. We're still going to play pressure basketball and keep the pace at a high speed."

Since returning from an elbow injury three games ago, sophomore forward Sam Muldrow has made improvement each game. He had three points, two rebounds, two blocks, and one assists in just 14 minutes of play against the Volunteers. He is still wearing a brace on his left elbow, but it does not seem to hamper him as he tries to find his place in the flow of the Carolina system.

"His health is fine," Horn said. "The issue is him continuing to produce and get comfortable out there. He's a guy that brings an element to us that maybe nobody else does in terms of length and athleticism."


- In addition to the t-shirts, there will be free pizza for students, along with a pre-game and halftime performance by dance squad Fanny Pack.

- Wednesday night marks the start of a three game home stand for the Gamecocks. It continues with Ole Miss on Saturday and Vanderbilt next Wednesday.

- Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05:30 PM. The game will be televised by Raycom and can be seen on FSN.

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