The Gamecocks host the Mississippi Valley State "Delta Devils" tonight at the Colonial Life Arena (7:00 - TV: Fox Sports South) for more early round action in the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament - with initial games played on campus and the finale in Sin City after Thanksgiving. We all know the Gamecock roundballers are off to a lousy start - 1-2 and the only SEC team currently with a losing record - but the question is whether the Garnet and Black can get back to .500 on the young season before having to face the UNC Tarheels?
At first blush, the Delta Devils would look like they give us an excellent chance to notch a "W" : Valley is currently 0-3 on the season, averaging a relatively anemic 40% shooting, and @ 70 ppg and 36 rebounds pg. Before we get too excited at the prospect of an easy victory, however, note that the Cocks are also averaging 40% from the floor and 36-odd boards per game, and an even more anemic 63.7 ppg.
Also - note that all of Valley's losses have been road games at power-programs: Notre Dame (80-67), DePaul (80-70) and UNC (101-75). True - MVSU has trailed each game at the half, but they Devils have also played a much higher caliber of competition than we have so far; they ran with the Heels through the first 12 minutes of the game for what that's worth.
Inside, MVSU has a nice F/C in Amos Sturdivant (6'8") who posted a double-double against DePaul, and scored in double digits against Notre Dame. Starting guard Kevin Burwell, is a fifth-year senior who is 9 ppg and is perfect so far from the stripe. One Valley reserve to keep an eye out for is true freshman G Brent Arrington who came off the bench for 33 points against the Heels (which I would say is impressive even in a blow-out loss in the Dean Dome).
This is Valley's fourth straight road game and hopefully they're a bit worn down after their visit to Chapel Hill. We're favored in the game, but we'll have to improve our perimeter shooting and be ready to bang inside to get a win; unless something really breaks differently than against Elon and Tennessee State, I expect this one to go deep into the second half before it's decided.