One week after South Carolina's first win over a Top-10 team since 2010, the Gamecocks hit the road for their first SEC road game. A game that follows a disappointing loss in their SEC opener after last Saturday's win and the Gamecocks' seven game win streak built the program a wave of momentum.
The Florida Gators, down a starter due to suspension, came out ready in the two teams' first SEC game of the season, quickly building a 17-6 lead for themselves over the Gamecocks. South Carolina was resilient despite the first-half deficit, came back, and actually went into halftime up by three.
The effort was constantly there for the Gamecocks throughout the game and it, combined with falling shots, helped them gain that halftime lead. Despite that normal, intense effort by South Carolina, all touch seemed to leave the hands of Gamecock players and the team only managed eight field goals in the second half. Combine that poor shooting stretch with the fact that a usual strength for the Gamecocks, rebounding, wasn't so strong, losing the rebounding margin to Florida 37-23. It's uplifting that despite all of that the Gamecocks were there in the end with a somewhat decent chance to send the game to overtime.
Today, South Carolina hits the road to face the Ole Miss Rebels, a team that also suffered a disappointing loss in their SEC opener. The Rebs gave the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats the biggest scare of their season to date, taking the Wildcats to overtime but eventually falling 89-86 because of pitiful offensive execution down the stretch.
They too showed perseverance, not getting down on themselves, continuing to play and battling back after Kentucky held early leads of 12-0 and 18-5. While the Gamecocks couldn't make anything in their opener, Ole Miss had of the best shooting performances they'll likely have this season. Leading scorer Stefan Moody pocketed 25 points on 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc, Jarvis Summers dropped 23, and LaDarius White came away with 15 points. All three players scored higher than their season averages, with Moody and Summers scoring about 10 points above their season average.
Moody's 25 was all in regulation, he was forced to sit out overtime due to leg cramps. Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in his post-game press conference that if Moody was available in OT for the Rebs, his Wildcats would have lost.
Ole Miss swept both meetings last season versus South Carolina but the Rebels' two wins were only by a combined five points. Sindarius Thornwell was completely ineffective against Florida due to foul trouble but he hopes to get back on track against a team he had great success against during his freshman season. Last year, Thornwell averaged 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two blocks in his two games vs. Ole Miss.
It is also worth nothing that Ole Miss leads the country in free-throw percentage (78.9%) and went 19-of-22 from the stripe against Kentucky.
The Rebels have had great success against South Carolina over the years, especially at home, but the Gamecocks hope to draw the line hear on whether their early success was a fluke. The game tips off in Tad Smith Coliseum at 5pm ET and will be broadcasted on FOX Sports South.