No. 19 South Carolina (15-0) at Alabama (9-5)
WATCH: 9:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
A three-day break for South Carolina coincided with the start of the Gamecocks' spring semester this week in Columbia. After earning a come from behind win on Saturday against Vanderbilt, Frank Martin's team began class Monday morning, where they have undoubtedly become the talk of the school.
Undefeated USC remains one of just two teams in men's college basketball with an unblemished record. They rose to No. 19 in the latest Associated Press poll and now rank 15th in the most recent USA Today Coaches poll.
The Gamecocks earned two wins in their first two SEC games this season. Last week's road test in Auburn marked this year's opener. South Carolina hit 50% from the field and matched a season-high nine three-pointers in a comfortable win over the Tigers.
Vanderbilt led for about 30 minutes of game time before Martin's defense proved too tough and too resilient on Saturday. The Commodores entered the game as one of the best, if not the best, shooting team in the conference. Normally hitting a shade above 41 percent from the field, Vandy shot just 32.8 percent on the Colonial Life Arena floor. The ‘Dores missed 16 of their last 17 shots on the afternoon as the physical, pressurized Gamecock attack wore down Vanderbilt's legs.
Junior wing Sindarius Thornwell led the way this past weekend, scoring 19 points in the win. He topped 1,000 career points on Saturday, becoming the 42nd player in Carolina history to do so. Thornwell also led the Gamecocks with 22 points in their conference opener at Auburn, his highest scoring output since his freshman season. Over the last three games, Thornwell is averaging 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Thornwell and USC hit the road on Wednesday night as they'll take on Alabama at Coleman Coliseum. The Tide boast their own guard and his recent hot streak. Senior Retin Obasohan has scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games. Most recently, he followed a season-high 23 points to open SEC play against Ole Miss with a 21-point afternoon against No. 14 Kentucky.
Alabama lost both games after a successful run in nonconference play. Similar to last year's South Carolina team, the Tide built momentum to begin the year but have been unable to carry it over into SEC games. It may just be a front loaded schedule because Alabama's first three league opponents have a combined record of 39-6.
In South Carolina, the Tide will take on their second straight ranked opponent and fifth of the season. Under first year head coach Avery Johnson, ‘Bama is 2-2 against ranked teams on the year, earning wins over Wichita State and Notre Dame.
The Gamecocks are just 2-14 all-time in games played in Tuscaloosa. They have won two of the last three meetings, but Alabama earned the most recent win, a 59-51 victory last Feb. in T-Town.
The two teams are on completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of Frank Martin's favorite attribute - rebounding. South Carolina has out-rebounded 14 of their 15 opponents this season and has a +10.1 rebounding margin, a mark that leads the SEC and ranks 15th nationally. Alabama enters Wednesday's game with a -4.3 rebounding margin, worst in the conference.
While USC appears to hold a mighty rebounding advantage, their shooting will need to travel to earn the win. Coleman Coliseum and the Tide have been a tricky opponent for the Gamecocks over the years. They managed to knock down nine treys a week ago in Alabama. Carolina may need to do something similar to bail themselves out of a tough road test.