USC Seeks to put Second Chomp on Gators

The Gamecocks (16-4, 5-2 SEC) take four-game SEC winning streak down to Gainesville to take on the team they defeated to start the streak, the Florida Gators (18-4, 5-2 SEC). The two teams are tied atop the SEC East and focused on polishing up their postseason resumes. Both are eyeing a "quality win" Tuesday night on national television.

When the Gators came to Columbia for the teams' first matchup, Carolina was 1-2 in the SEC, coming off consecutive road losses at LSU and Tennessee. Against Florida it seemed the Gamecocks would be headed for their third straight loss and another long season, but then Mike Holmes and Zam Fredrick teamed up for the game-winning layup. Now the Gators are looking for revenge.

"They feel like we stole one from them," said Devin Downey. "They just got beat by Tennessee so they're going to come out with a whole lot of emotion. We have to be ready to match their intensity."

Beating Florida snapped a five game losing streak to the Gators, but the Gamecocks snapped an even longer streak winning at Kentucky. It was just the second win ever for Carolina at Rupp Arena. It also gave Darrin Horn a win in his first game back in his hometown of Lexington. Add in the fact that it always means a little bit more to beat Kentucky, and you have a special game. That certainly sets Carolina up for a letdown, but Horn is not concerned.

"We keep doing the things we've been doing," Horn said. "We get focused on our next opponent, the specifics of the game plan for that and the things we need to do well every night, and come out and get to work on them."

Carolina snapped one streak by beating Florida in the earlier meeting, but it has several others to contend with. The Gators have won 9 of 10 home meetings against the Gamecocks and 14 of the last 17. They are 12-0 at home this year and have won 14 straight at the O'Connell Center.

"To me it's another game," Horn said, dismissing any suggestion that there is something unique about playing at Florida. "There are no easy road games in league play."

The Gators are led by sophomore guard Nick Calathes. Calathes notched his second career triple-double last week against Georgia, scoring 20 points to go with 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Calathes has gotten a big boost of late from sophomore forward Chandler Parsons. Parsons scored 14 points in the last meeting, but missed two late free throws that set up Fredrick's game-winner. Since then, he has caught fire. Over the last four games, Parsons is averaging 17.0 points and 7.5 rebounds. Even more impressive, he is shooting 71.1 percent from the field, and 55.6% from three.

The Gamecocks are led by their junior point guard Downey. Downey was named SEC Player of the Week for his performance in wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky. He averaged 20.5 points, 4 assists, and 3.5 steals, and hit the game winner at Kentucky.

"These past two games I'm just proud of my team. It's a good honor, but I'm just proud of my team," said Downey. "I'm confident in myself anyway. Anytime if you tell me ‘we're going to give you the ball with 20 seconds left to win the game, I'll take it. I feel like my team is good enough around me that we can make a play."

Downey is likely to score his 1,000 career point in Gainesville. He needs 16 points to reach that milestone.


- For the first time since 1989, the SEC has no team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll released on Monday. The SEC also failed to place a representative in the Coaches' Poll. LSU (36 votes), South Carolina (33), Florida (24), and Kentucky (2) were among the Others Receiving Votes in the AP Poll. In the Coaches' Poll the same teams, LSU (10 votes), South Carolina (8), Florida (6), and Kentucky (3) got votes. Carolina has not been ranked since February 16, 2004, when they were ranked 24th.

- In the previous meeting between the two teams, Downey and Calathes each scored 20 points to lead their respective teams. The Gators out-shot Carolina 54% to 39%, but USC made up the difference by attempting 10 and making seven more free throws.

- The four game SEC winning streak is the first for the Gamecocks since 2006. They have not had a five game winning streak since 2004.

- Tipoff is at 9:00 PM. The will be simulcast on ESPN and ESPNU.

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