MBB: Gamecock Gameday: Men’s Hoops Travels To No. 13/12 Florida On Tuesday

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina concludes a two-game road swing when it travels to face Florida in Gainesville on Tuesday night in primetime (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Carolina looks to snap a two-game losing streak, after suffering losses last week to Arkansas and on the road at Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks won the first meeting against Florida this season in Columbia, posting a 57-53 win on Jan. 18. The stifling Carolina defense held Florida to without a bucket from 3-point range in the four-point win.

GAME STORYLINES

– South Carolina is in its 109th season of varsity basketball in 2016-17.
– On the sidelines, Frank Martin is joined by associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Bruce Shingler, and director of operations Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina is receiving votes in both the AP and Coaches Top 25 Polls this week. South Carolina has been ranked in the AP poll for nine weeks this season and in the Coaches Poll for 10.
– South Carolina captured its 20th win of the season on Feb. 11 in Starkville. It marked the first time the Gamecocks have had back-to-back 20-wins seasons (25-9 during 2015-16 campaign) since the 2003-04 (23-11), the 2004-05 (20-13) and the 2005-06 (23-15) seasons when the Gamecocks posted three-straight 20-win campaigns.
– The Gamecocks posted their 10th SEC win of the season in Starkville as well, marking just the fifth double-digit win total in SEC play for Carolina in its 26-seasons in the league. It’s also just the second time that Carolina has had back-to-back seasons with double-digit league wins, as the Gamecocks posted 11 last season. (15 SEC wins in 1997, 11 in 1998).
– Carolina aims for its 11th SEC win of the campaign on Tuesday at Florida. It would mark the second-straight season with 11 league wins, and it would tie for the second-most all-time (15 in 1997).
– Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell hit the 20-point mark for the 12th time this season, and the Gamecocks shot 42.9 percent from the field, but Vanderbilt used a 44-point second half to post a 71-62 win over the visiting Gamecocks at Memorial Gym last Saturday. The loss was Carolina’s second in a row, and dropped the Gamecocks two games back of Florida and Kentucky in the SEC standings. Sophomore guard PJ Dozier(15) and sophomore forward Chris Silva (14) also added double-figure points for the Gamecocks in the loss.
– SEC Player of the Year candidate Sindarius Thornwell continued his outstanding season on Saturday at Vanderbilt. He scored a game high 21, hitting six shots, and going 9-for-9 at the free throw line. Over the course of the last five games, Thornwell is averaging 27.6 points per outing, has hit 44.0 percent from the floor (40-91), has pulled down 8.4 rebounds per game, and has hit 48-of-59 (81.4%) at the free throw line.
– Thornwell has been named to the Naismith Trophy Top 30 list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Feb. 9. The list is comprised of the nation’s top players who are in consideration for the 2017 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year award.
– Thornwell has accounted for 36.5% of the team’s scoring over the course of the last five games.
– In league play, Carolina opponents are averaging 18.5 turnovers per contest. Last week both Arkansas and Vanderbilt committed 15 turnovers each.
– Through 27 games this season, South Carolina has held the opposing team’s top scorer to below his season average in 21 of those games.
– South Carolina has forced at least 15 turnovers in every SEC game this season except the Arkansas game. Texas A&M’s 25 marked an opponent season high in the category, and Alabama was just behind with 24 giveaways.
– South Carolina currently ranks second in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 28.5 percent from beyond the arc this season.
– South Carolina leads the SEC in several defensive categories entering Tuesday’s matchup at Florida. In overall games, Carolina is tops in scoring defense (64.1), FG% defense (39.4%) and 3-point FG% defense (28.5%), and is tied for first in steals (7.9 per game). In strictly league games, Carolina is fifth in FG% defense (42.6%), second in 3-point FG% defense (30.7%) and tied for first in steals (7.9 per game).
– Individually in the SEC statistics (overall games), Thornwell is second in scoring (21.1), fifth in rebounds (7.3), first in steals (2.2) and sixth in offensive rebounds per game (2.7). Dozier is sixth with 1.7 steals per outing.
– South Carolina is 13-3 at home this season, averaging 76.1 points per game and hitting 42.0% from the field.
– The Gamecocks are 6-3 in away games this season (5-2 in SEC games), and average 69.7 points per game and have hit 41.9% from the field.
– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is 86-82 (.511) all-time in conference games.
– Martin is 23-32 (.418) 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.
– South Carolina is in its 26th basketball season as a member of the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks are 165-257 (.390) all-time in SEC games.
– The Gamecocks currently rank 30th in the NCAA RPI (games through Feb. 19), which is third in the SEC behind Kentucky (9th) and Florida (10th).
– South Carolina has 11 top 100 RPI wins this season.
SCOUTING FLORIDA

– Florida has a 22-5 overall record on the year, including a 12-2 mark in SEC games. The Gators are tied atop the SEC standings with Kentucky entering action this week.
– UF is 7-1 in home games this season, with the lone loss a 68-66 decision against Vanderbilt on Jan. 21.
– The Gators have won eight straight games entering Tuesday’s matchup vs. South Carolina. Their last loss was that Jan. 21 contest vs. Vanderbilt.
– UF has played three of their last four games on the road, most recently last week posting road wins at Auburn and Mississippi State.
– Three average double-figure points for the Gators led by graduate transfer Canyon Barry’s 13.2 per game. KeVaughn Allen (13.1) and Devin Robinson (11.1) also provide double-digit points per game.
– In league games, Barry leads the team with 14.4 points per game. He has hit a league leading 92.7% (51-55) from the four line in league play as well.
– In the SEC statistics (overall games), Florida is fourth in scoring offense (79.5), third in scoring defense (65.9) and second in scoring margin (+13.7). The Gators are also tied with South Carolina with 213 steals (7.9 per game) on the year.
FLORIDA SERIES

Florida leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 43-24, and that mark includes a 20-7 advantage in games played in Gainesville. The last Gamecock win at the O’Connell Center came in a 72-69 victory on Jan. 15, 2011. Bruce Ellington led the Gamecocks in that win with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor. Prior to that, the Gamecocks’ last win in Gainesville came during the 2006 campaign.

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