Jan. 17, 2003
USC will play its fourth game in five tries at The Carolina Center on Saturday, Jan. 18 (8:06 pm tipoff) when it hosts the first ranked men's team to play in the building, the No. 6 Florida Gators. The game is sold out.
USC, 7-6, is 1-2 in the SEC thus far: opening the SEC season with a 55-49 win over Mississippi, falling 55-62 at Kentucky and then losing 60-67 on Wednesday night to Auburn. Florida is 14-2 overall and is coming off three SEC-opening wins at Mississippi State (74-66), Georgia (66-63) and Tennessee (77-64).
Florida won both meetings with USC last season: 60-69 in Columbia and then 63-72 in Gainesville. The Gators are 23-17 lifetime against USC and 16-8 since USC joined the SEC. The Gators have won the last seven of eight against USC.
The Florida game will be carried on the radio airwaves by the Gamecock Sports Network. Charlie McAlexander (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (color) will call the action on more than 25 stations in the Palmetto State and world-wide on the internet at www.uscsports.com.
The game will also be shown on SEC-TV with Dave Neal making the call as the play-by-playannouncer and Barry Booker acting as the color analyst. USC Head Football Coach Lou Holtz will appear at halftime and talk about recruiting needs, spring practice and maybe even a little college basketball.
POWELL INJURY UPDATE
His left foot was stepped on when he went up to for a basket close range in the second half.
Powell did not practice Thursday, will practice on Friday and is listed as probable for Saturday's 8:06 pm tip-off against Florida.
MY FIRST, BUT NOT MY LAST
In one of his best games of the year, junior Rolando Howell had his first double-double of the year against Auburn. Both team highs, Howell scored 15 points and pulled down 11 boards (three offensive, eight defensive). He added one assist, one block and two steals in 38 minutes at power forward. In addition, he added three sparkling dunks, the only dunks of the game, as well.
"I took this game more personally than the rest of the guys because I missed that game last year," Howell told reporters after the game.
It was the eighth double-double of his career (all points/rebounds doubles).
TOUGH AND TOUGHER
Dating back to last Saturday's match-up at Kentucky, USC will play five of its next seven games against teams currently ranked in the nation's top 25 - all coming from the SEC. Kentucky is ranked No. 16 (at Jan. 11 and Feb. 1), while Florida is No. 6 (Jan. 18), Mississippi State is No. 14 (at Jan. 22) and Louisiana State is No. 23 (at Feb. 5). In addition Auburn, one of the surprise teams of the SEC this year, sits a top of the SEC Western Division with a 3-0 record in the SEC (14-2 overall).
Think it gets any easier? If the top 25 would stay the same the rest of the season, USC would close out its regular season schedule (the last four of its five games) against teams in the top 20 (Jan. 13 ranking): No. 20 Georgia (at Feb. 22, March 9), No. 6 Florida (at Feb. 25), No. 9 Alabama (March 5).