UT owns the series record at 20-18, but USC won the its two meetings last year: 94-60 in Knoxville and 72-54 in Columbia.
USC is 14-10 against the Vols since joining the SEC, including 6-6 in Knoxville.
USC, 7-8 and 1-4 in the SEC, lost at then-No. 22 Mississippi State last Wednesday in its most lopsided defeat of the season, 48-64; and then had the weekend off to prepare for UT. After shooting 50.0% from the field against then-No. 6 Florida on Jan. 18, USC shot just 27.1% at Mississippi State.
Tennessee, 9-6 and 2-3 in the SEC, lost at then-No. 19 Georgia last Wednesday in OT, 76-81, and then fell at home to then No. 9 Louisville in hard fought battle, 69-72, on Saturday. The Volunteers are led by the SEC's leading scorer, senior forward Ron Slay, who is averaging 21.5 ppg. Slay is also one of the SEC's leading rebounding, checking in at No. 3 on the SEC list with 7.8 rpg.
The Tennessee game will be carried on the radio airwaves by the Gamecock Sports Network (for radio listings see page 13). 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.
changin' things up a bit
The Gamecock men's basketball team will travel to Knoxville on Wednesday morning instead of traveling north on Tuesday night. The team will leave Columbia at 9 am, go to the shoot-around from 11 am - Noon and then go to a local hotel. They will eat pre-game at the regular time and return on Wednesday evening after the game. Coach Odom had wanted to try this for awhile and with a place like Knoxville being closer, it seemed like a logical first time trip.
can history repeat itself?
Last year, entering the game at Tennessee, USC had lost three of its last four in the SEC. USC went on to win 94-60, shooting 60%. The victory was USC's largest ever in an SEC road game when Carlos Powell scored 19 points, hitting 6-of-7 from the field. Four other Gamecocks poured in double-figure points as well (Bradley 15; Eidson 14; R. Howell 14; Warren 10) .
USC then went 4-3 in its next seven games on its SEC schedule. The game against UT was seen as a real confidence builder, in Knoxville, as USC also won the game against the Vols on its own floor, 72-54, a couple weeks later.
pretty good in the garnet and black
Junior Kerbrell Brown had a four-game stretch in December where he scored in double-figures each game: 17 vs. Georgetown, 15 at NC State, 10 against Wofford and then 14 at Wyoming. After that stretch, he saw his scoring average hit 9.8, a season high. He then hit a 'mini-slump' where his average fell as low as 7.9 (after he scored five points against Mississippi).
But, the last four games he has picked up where he left off in December, starting with Kentucky. His scoring average has climbed now to a career-high 10.2 ppg, while he is averaging 3.1 rpg.
Brown put on a three-point show at Kentucky, hitting four three's in the second half, scoring a career-high 19 points against the Wildcats. He led the Gamecocks in scoring for the first time since he scored 14 points in the loss at Wyoming.
Brown followed up that performance against Florida by scoring 22 points, including four treys, coming off the bench to play 30 minutes. He also collected two assists, one block, one steal and four rebounds to complete a fine performance. The 22 points were a career high for Brown in the garnet and black.
Brown collected 15 points, including three three-pointers in the loss at Mississippi State, leading USC in scoring for the fourth time this season. Brown also collected six rebounds and one block.
10th line-up used at msu; is the 11th around the corner?
USC has used 10 different line-ups in 15 games this season, with the 10th line-up (Howell, Powell, Kitchings, Gerald, Eidson) playing at MSU; and could possibly see its 11th against Tennessee. Two reasons: injuries and looking for the right combination.
It's become an Algebra problem for Coach Odom at times this season. For example at Kentucky: with seniors Marius Petravicius and Chris Warren not on the trip due to injuries, and Rolando Howell not practicing full court on Thursday or Friday due to the mild head trauma he suffered against Mississippi, Coach Odom made a game-time decision to start Mike Boynton instead of R. Howell. Howell did play 25 minutes in the game, scoring four points and gathering eight rebounds.
USC has only started the same line-up more than one time in a row, starting the following for a three game stretch against Temple, Georgetown and Wofford: Carlos Powell, Howell, Petravicius, Chuck Edison and Mike Boynton.
Coach Odom talks about Tennessee, his own team and tonight's game
USC Head Coach Dave Odom talked about the Tennessee game tonight at his bi-weekly press conference with Columbia's media on Tuesday.
"We've been looking at Tennessee for the past two days: practicing against their lineup, techniques and schemes. If you try to put it on a personal level, their team is similar to the USC team that won the conference championship in 1997. The fact that they have three great guards in Higgins, Holden and Watson plays a lot like that USC team (with Larry Davis, Melvin Watson and BJ McKie). I think the way (UT head coach) Buzz Peterson has designed his offense it is very guard-oriented in terms of handling the basketball. Then at just the right time they give the ball to Ron Slay and say score. "They don't turn the ball over much as you would expect with great guards and perimeter players."
Odom also talked about what Ron Slay brings to Tennessee's team: "Then Tennessee has got what I think is one of the two leading candidates for SEC Player of the Year in Ron Slay and a much improved Crump and Wilborn inside, so you have a nice three man rotation there. If we were voting today for Player of the Year, Slay would be one of the top two, but there is a lot of the season left."
Where is Tennessee most improved this year?
"The biggest improvement in Tennessee this year is their defense. You can look at the scores and it reflects it. I feel their defense keeps them in games along with their well-designed and executed offense."
What has USC been working on the past few days?
"As far as our team is concerned we have been working hard this weekend and this week to improve our offense. There was a great emphasis on not taking shots but making shots. We have made some adjustments to our offense basically the personnel is going to stay pretty much the same.
"I think it is something that will improve as we approach the midpoint of the conference schedule. Right now I think our inside guys are playing well as long as we can get them some room. Marcus Morrison looked good in practice and may get a look against Tennessee.
"The one thing we will do that will force a bit of a change on the perimeter is take away most of Carlos Powell's responsibilities on the perimeter in order to help Tony Kitchings and Rolando Howell inside. This would give each player roughly 26 minutes in the post for each player. Hopefully this will help by keeping a fresh guy in the post at all times. Now the obvious question is if he has been playing 20 minutes on the perimeter who is going to play. I have no answer there - most likely Kerbell's minutes will go up and Marcus will see some playing time on the perimeter. "