Gamecock Basketball Preview: SC State

Tyrone Johnson takes a corner three-point shot against Marshall. - Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulldogs head up I-26 to face the Gamecocks in their final non-conference game of the regular season.

The South Carolina Gamecocks ride a three-game winning streak into their final non-conference tilt of the season, against the lowly South Carolina State Bulldogs.  The evening provides the Gamecocks one last opportunity to grab an easy victory before they head straight into the teeth of their conference schedule, with an opening game against the top ten Florida Gators in Gainesville next Wednesday night.

State enters this game with two wins over D-1 competition this season, home and away victories over Coastal Carolina.  Against the rest of its D-1 schedule, the Bulldogs are 0-8, all double-digit losses.  State also has two victories over non-D-1 teams (including an overtime victory over something called St. Andrews Pres.), but should not provide much in the way of competition for the suddenly-improving Gamecocks.

State likely remembers a different Gamecock team than the one they'll face on Friday night.  Last season, the Bulldogs only lost by 11 in Columbia, paced largely by the monstrous efforts of Matthew Hezekiah, who scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a losing effort.  He returns and remains a force, but the improved interior defense of South Carolina hopes to pose him more challenges than it did last season.

The Four Factors (Pomeroy rankings)
When USC has the ball When SCS has the ball
USC Off. SCSU Def. Edge SCSU Off. USC Def. Edge
249 246 Push eFG% 314 73 USC BIG
224 280 Push TO% 331 72 USC BIG
15 280 USC BIG OReb% 104 214 Push
133 230 Push FTR 331 335 Push

Shooting
When USC has the ball When SCS has the ball
USC Off. SCSU Def. SCSU Off. USC Def.
68.5 FT% 69.5 61.6
45.2 52.7 2P% 49.4 43.4 46.7
35.6 3P% 31.4 30.8
23.8 39.7 3PA% 31.5 31.6 34.6

The Gamecocks continue to improve on the defensive end with the sole exception of a slight defensive rebounding weakness and a tendency to put teams on the line too often.  For S.C. State, this is unfortunate, as much like Marshall, they are not capable as a team of going to the free throw line and winning a basketball game, given their woeful FT%.

Frankly, aside from Hezekiah, the Bulldogs simply don't have the players capable of keeping up with South Carolina the way they've played the last few games, though Devin Joint provides good shooting and offensive rebounding from the wing, despite his undersized 6'4" frame.  With that said, if you know the names of any other players for the Bulldogs after the game on Friday night, something went wrong for Carolina.

Speaking of the Gamecocks, they enter the game building on back-to-back blowouts.  Duane Notice continues to play like Carolina hoped he would when they brought the Canadian down south, and the Brenton Williams resurgence looks to continue as he may be in line for his fourth consecutive start.  Sindarius Thornwell will hope to get back on track after a disappointing game against the Herd, where he only played 9 minutes due to early foul trouble.

The game tips at 7pm from the Colonial Life Arena, and can be watched on SportsSouth, or even better for those in the Columbia area, at the Colonial Life Arena.

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