COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (5-8, 3-6 SEC) hosts Ole Miss (11-8, 6-6 SEC) on Saturday night at Colonial Life Arena for a 6 p.m. ET tipoff. Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Mark Wise (analyst) will have the call for the SEC Network broadcast, while Derek Scott (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (analyst) will have the call over the air on the Gamecock Radio Network.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Broadcast: SEC Network
Play-By-Play: Mike Morgan
Analyst: Mark Wise
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network
In Columbia: 107.5 The Game
Play-By-Play: Derek Scott
Analyst: Casey Manning
Sirius: – | XM: 190 | Internet: 961
Watch: WatchESPN/ESPN App
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
Series: Ole Miss leads 21-20
In Columbia: Carolina leads 12-2
Series Trend: Ole Miss has won three of the last five meetings
Last Meeting: 84-70 Ole Miss win on Feb. 5, 2020, in Oxford
> The Gamecocks conclude their three-game homestand hosting Ole Miss on Saturday night at Colonial Life Arena. The meeting is the first between the two schools in Columbia since the 2019 SEC regular season.
> South Carolina jumped out to an early lead on No. 11/11 Alabama on Tuesday at Colonial Life Arena, but the Crimson Tide battled back to take a three-point lead into the halftime break. The contest featured five lead changes and seven ties, but the Crimson Tide clinched the win with a pair of free throws from James Rojas with two seconds to play.
> The Gamecock defense forced 22 Alabama turnovers, and held the Crimson Tide to just 38.2 percent from the field, but Alabama hit 12 3s, compared to Carolina’s six, and UA added 17 at the free throw line.
> South Carolina suffered a 75-59 loss to Mississippi State last Saturday at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks hit just 31.1 percent of their attempts from the floor (19-61), and the Bulldogs connected on 46.4 percent (26-56) in the win. Carolina was also out-rebounded, as MSU held a 46-30 advantage on the glass.
> South Carolina held Florida without a field goal for the final 6:37 of the contest, and used a 13-1 run during that final stretch to post a come-from-behind upset road win over the No. 22/23 ranked Gators last Wednesday in Gainesville. Junior guard AJ Lawson scored 22 to pace the Gamecocks, and his eight rebounds were also a team best. It was Carolina’s third-straight win in Gainesville.
> Carolina out-scored Florida 50-30 in the paint, marking its highest point in the paint total of the season. Senior guard Seventh Woods played a huge roll in that total, hitting 6-of-10 from the floor, with several of those made baskets in the lane. His 12 points marked a season high.
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
At each home game in the month of February, South Carolina will recognize individuals from the State and their community accomplishments, and following the National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing will also be played.
> At Saturday’s home game vs. Ole Miss, South Carolina will honor Mr. Charles Williams.
Mr. Charles H. Williams received his bachelor of science from the University of South Carolina in 1972, before completing his juris doctor degree from the University in 1975. After he and his father began the successful Williams and Williams Law Firm in 1975, he later went on to serve the state as a member of the United States Civil Rights Commission, an organization whose mission is to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. Mr. Williams served on the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees from 1986-2008, before his current roll serving on the Board at his alma mater since 2010.
SCOUTING THE REBELS
> The Rebels are 11-8 overall and 6-6 in SEC contests and have won three-straight conference matchups entering Saturday’s contest vs. the Gamecocks.
> Head coach Kermit Davis is in his third season in Oxford.
> After starting conference play 1-4, the Rebels have won five of their next seven contests, including a win over No. 10 Missouri in Oxford earlier this week.
> Three average double-figure points for the Rebels, led by Devontae Shuler’s 15.5 points per game. Jarkel Joiner (11.2) and Romello White (10.8) are also in double figures.
> In conference contests, Shuler is also averaging a team high 15.4 points per game.
> The Rebels are second in the SEC and 32nd nationally, holding opponents to just 63.2 points per game. Ole Miss’ defense is also forcing 16.74 opponent turnovers per contest, which is third in the league and 20th nationally.
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF 1971 ACC CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
> The University of South Carolina Athletics Department and the Gamecock men’s basketball program will honor the 1971 ACC men’s basketball championship team on Saturday at halftime, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the team’s title. Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols the celebration will be virtual this season, with a video tribute at halftime, and next season, the championship squad will be honored in person at the program’s annual Legends Weekend, at a date to be determined in February 2022.
> South Carolina captured the 1971 ACC championship on a last second layup from Gamecock great Tom Owens. With time running out against North Carolina in the ACC finals and the Gamecocks down 51-50, a jump ball was called with Carolina’s Kevin Joyce, whose listed height was just 6-3, and UNC’s 6-10 center Lee Dedmon. Amazingly, Joyce outjumped Dedmon and tipped the ball directly to Owens under the basket for a layup and 52-51 Gamecock victory and ACC title, which advanced the team to the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
> The Gamecock roster for the 1970-71 campaign included head coach Frank McGuire, assistant coaches Buck Freeman, Bill Loving and Donnie Walsh, and student-athletes John Roche, Dennis Powell, Casey Manning, Bob Carver, Kevin Joyce, Tom Owens, Danny Traylor, Tom Riker, John Ribock, Rick Aydlett, Jimmy Powell and manager, John Morganelli. Roche would lead the team in scoring with 21.6 points per game, and Owens added 15.0 points and 12.9 rebounds per outing. The team concluded the season with a 23-6 overall record.
GAMECOCK NOTES TO KNOW
> Head coach Frank Martin is in his ninth season leading the Gamecocks in 2020-21. He is joined by assistant coaches Will Bailey, Chuck Martin and Bruce Shingler, while Andy Assaley is the director of operations for the squad.
> Martin is 34-48 (.414) against ranked opponents as a head coach. His teams have four wins over opponents ranked in the top five, and two wins over opponents who are ranked No. 1.
> The Gamecocks have hit double-digit conference victories in four of the last five seasons (11 in 2016, 12 in 2017, 11 in 2019, and 10 in 2020).
> A pair of Gamecocks collected preseason honors from both the media and SEC coaches during the preseason. Junior guard AJ Lawson earned preseason All-SEC Second-Team accolades from the media, while Lawson (First Team) and Couisnard (Second Team) were honored by the SEC coaches on the preseason teams.
> Junior guard AJ Lawson is Carolina’s top returning scorer after pacing the team with 13.4 points per game last season.
> Five who started the majority of SEC games last season return to the court for Carolina. Lawson, sophomore guard Jermaine Couisnard, who paced the team in league play at 12.1 points per game, junior forward Keyshawn Bryant, junior forward Justin Minaya (missed nine SEC games due to injury last season) and junior forward Alanzo Frink.
> From last season, the biggest absence from the lineup will be graduated four-year starter Maik Kotsar. Kotsar had a career year, averaging 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while also leading the Gamecocks in blocks (1.1 per game) and steals at 1.5 per outing in 2019-20. Kotsar, who was a starter during his rookie season on Carolina’s 2017 Final Four squad, also played a team high 30.4 minutes per game a year ago.
> R-sophomore guard Jermaine Couisnard led Carolina with 20 points in the win vs. Tulsa (Nov. 29). It marked the third 20-point outing of his career.
> Junior guard AJ Lawson was named to the Hall of Fame Classic All-Tournament Team after a pair of double-figure scoring outings at the event. Lawson led the Gamecocks with 12 vs. Liberty (Jan. 28), before a 17-point outing behind four 3s in the win over Tulsa. On the weekend, Lawson was 6-of-13 (46.2%) from range, while also dishing out three assists and collecting three steals.
> The Gamecocks held a halftime lead on the road at No. 10 Houston (Dec. 5), however, the Cougars battled back in the second half and closed a 77-67 win. Junior forward Justin Minaya hit all three of his attempts from beyond the arc and led Carolina with 13 points in the loss.
> South Carolina returned to the court for the first time since Dec. 5 when it hosted Florida A&M on Jan. 2. The contest marked the Gamecocks’ first game in 28 days due to a combination of positive COVID-19 tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the South Carolina program.
> The Gamecocks posted a 78-71 win over Florida A&M on Jan. 2 in their home opener, using a 9-2 run over the final five minutes to secure the win. Junior guard AJ Lawson’s then-career high nine made field goals saw him post a team best 25 points in the win, sophomore guard Jermaine Couisnard added 15, and junior forward Justin Minaya posted his first double-double of the season with 10 points and a team high 10 rebounds. The Gamecocks had nine players available for the contest.
> Carolina opened SEC play on Jan. 6 with a 78-54 win over visiting Texas A&M at Colonial Life Arena. Junior guard AJ Lawson scored a career high 30 points in the win, R-sophomore guard Jermaine Couisnard added 15 points and sophomore forward Wildens Leveque scored a season high 10 points for the Gamecocks.
> Carolina held a four-point lead at halftime of its matchup at LSU behind 18 first-half points from junior guard AJ Lawson, but, the Tigers out-scored the Gamecocks 51-42 in the second half to close the home win on Jan. 16. Lawson finished with 22, his third-straight game with 20+, and junior forward Keyshawn Bryant scored a career high 26 in the loss.
> Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, assistant coach Chuck Martin, and Doug Edwards, who handles student-athlete development for the team, did not travel with the team to Baton Rouge on Jan. 16. Assistant coach Bruce Shingler was the acting head coach for the matchup vs. the Tigers, along with assistant coach Will Bailey, video coordinator Brian Steele, and special assistant to the head coach John Reynolds.
> Missouri jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first three minutes of the Jan. 19 contest, and the Gamecocks weren’t able to overcome the early deficit in the 11-point loss to the 19th-ranked Tigers. Missouri hit 58.3% from the field in the 81-70 win.
> Sophomore forward Trey Anderson had a breakout performance at Mizzou. The San Diego native played a career high 25 minutes off the bench, hitting 7-of-9 from the floor, including a pair of 3s, en route to a career high 17 points. His five rebounds were also a career best.
> Carolina and Auburn traded points early in the matchup at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 23, but Auburn used an 11-1 run to take a double-digit lead midway through the first half, and out-scored the Gamecocks the rest of the way in the win. Junior forward Keyshawn Bryant continued his hot streak on the offensive end, leading Carolina with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field. Classmate AJ Lawson matched his career high with six made 3-pointers vs. the Tigers, and r-sophomore guard Jermaine Couisnard dished out a season high six assists.
> Anchored by a 19 point, 10 rebound double-double from junior forward Keyshawn Bryant, Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak with an 83-59 win over Georgia at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 27. Jermaine Couisnard added an SEC season high 18 points, and sophomore guard Trae Hannibal dished out a career best six assists in the win.
> The Gamecock defense was locked in from the start vs. Georgia, and held the Bulldogs to opponent season lows of 31.8 percent (21-66) from the floor, and 15.4 percent (4-26) from beyond the arc. The Gamecock defense also forced 20 Georgia turnovers.
> Vanderbilt jumped out to an early lead, and led for all but 57 seconds of the contest against South Carolina on Jan. 30 in Nashville in the 93-81 Commodore win. The Gamecocks hit 50% of their attempts from the field, including 10 from beyond the arc, but Vandy responded with 13 made 3s, and a 22-of-27 mark at the free throw line.
> Junior guard AJ Lawson led Carolina with 21 points at Vandy, his fifth game this season with 20+, and he was also 3-of-9 from 3-point range, marking his seventh contest this season with three or more makes from beyond the arc.
ODDS AND ENDS
> A couple random notes and factoids …
– Four Gamecocks have at least 120 career assists, led by AJ Lawson and Seventh Woods with 165, AJ Lawson (161), then Jermaine Couisnard (145) and Justin Minaya (126)
– Lawson has 10 double-figure scoring games this season with six of those 20+
– Prior to its contest vs. Mississippi State, in its previous three games, Carolina made at least 31 field goals in each, with a season high 33 in the home win vs. Georgia (Jan. 27)
– Among the SEC’s active career leaders, Lawson is third in scoring (1,032) and tied for sixth in steals (89)
MINAYA STRONG ON THE GLASS
> R-junior forward Justin Minaya is having a career year on both ends of the floor this season. Minaya paces the Gamecocks with 6.7 rebounds per contest, which is +1.4 rebounds per game over his career average. He has three double-doubles on the year, and also paces the Gamecocks with 2.92 offensive rebounds per game, which is fourth in the SEC and 52nd nationally.
> In strictly SEC games, Minaya’s 6.6 boards per game is eighth in the conference. He has two double-doubles in league games, and pulled down a season best 11 rebounds at No. 19 Mizzou.
BY THE NUMBERS
36.1 – The South Carolina duo of AJ Lawson (18.8) and Keyshawn Bryant (17.3) average a combined 36.1 points per SEC game this season, which is the second-ranked tandem in league play behind LSU’s Cameron Thomas and Trendon Watford, who average a combined 38.5 points per league outing.
11.0 – Senior guard Seventh Woods has scored in double figures in each of his last four games, averaging 11.0 points per game during the stretch.
21 – Junior guard AJ Lawson posted his seventh 20+ point outing of the season with a team high 21 vs. Alabama on Tuesday. It was the 19th 20-point performance of his career.
16.92 – The Gamecocks are forcing 16.92 opponent turnovers per game (overall games), which is an SEC best, and 14th nationally. Carolina forced 22 Alabama turnovers on Tuesday.
COMING UP NEXT
> The Gamecocks will play three of their last five regular season contests on the road, beginning next Tuesday when Carolina travels to face No. 16/15 Tennessee in Knoxville. Tip time is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.