South Carolina digs deeper into their SEC schedule this week, currently sitting at 12-4 overall and 1-2 in conference. The Gamecocks take on two teams at home this week: Florida on Wednesday, Ole Miss on Saturday. ESPN's bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has Carolina eight picks outside of the tourney, and a good showing during this homestand, especially if that includes a victory over the newly ranked Gators, would go a long way towards getting us on the right side of the bubble. Let's take a look at how we stack up against Florida and Ole Miss.
The Gators come into this game with a 16-2 record overall, a perfect conference record, and are ranked 24 in the newest AP poll. Their two losses are to Syracuse and FSU. While Florida likes to run the floor and put the ball in the hands of their guards, the Gators' biggest threat to us comes in the form of their two talented forwards, Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons. Combined, the two average over 20 ppg, and we will have trouble defending them.
Because of this, the Gators will likely get their points against us, barring a Herculean defensive performance by us or a terrible shooting night by Florida. That's not to say that it's not possible that they won't score a lot of points; they scored 55 and shot 39% in the loss to FSU, and scored 68 and shot 39% in a narrow win over Auburn. Both games, notably, were away from Gainesville, and we can hope for a little home-court advantage of our own. However, both games were also against teams that like to slow things down and play half-court defense a little more than we do, so if the Gators still score around 80, don't be surprised. With that in mind, our best chance to win this game will likely be to simply outscore Florida. Luckily, that's possible, too: Syracuse, a team that relies on a strong perimeter, jump shot offense much like our own when we're not in the fast break, beat the Gators 89-83, and if Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick can heat up, then we can do the same.
While Ole Miss is playing a little better than some expected they would after they lost Chris Warren to injury and had to begin going through the drama surrounding Andy Kennedy, this is still a team with seven losses, that lacks its best player, and that just lost by almost 30 to LSU on its own court. This is a game we should win, perhaps by a fairly large margin. Ole Miss relies on its guards on offense and plays a smaller lineup than Florida or LSU, so we should be able to get them to play our game and we won't have to worry about matchup problems down low. As long as we don't play sloppy, make our shots, and keep David Huertas from heating up, I say we can take the Rebels with ease.