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From the Student Section: Can South Carolina Basketball Take the Next Step?

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Sitting at 18-2, and 5-2 in SEC play, the South Carolina Gamecocks find themselves in prime position to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Our South Carolina Gamecocks currently sit at 18-2, 5-2 in conference, and right outside of the AP Top 25 rankings. It's been a banner year in Columbia, SC. Granted, things haven't gone as smoothly at times in conference play as we would've liked, but we still have an outstanding chance at the NCAA tournament. What do we need to do to solidify that chance? Let's take a look.

Everybody Calm Down on the Jamall Gregory Hype Train

Yes, Jamall Gregory is athletic and does exciting things like this. That does not mean he is ready to be a consistent contributor to a team that is making a run at a conference title and an NCAA tournament berth. We are no longer the team that needs to play raw, inexperienced freshman that don't totally "get" what Frank Martin is teaching yet. That's not a knock against Gregory. I, and many others, think he can and will be a damn good player by the end of his time here. That being said, a couple of dunks and 8 points in garbage time against Alabama doesn't necessarily warrant significant playing time. Frank Martin said it best, so I'll just close this paragraph with his thoughts

#TeamMichael

Michael Freakin' Carrera. What else can be said about this guy? Incredible performance last night against Mississippi State. 34 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. Carrera absolutely exploded last night and did it not a moment too soon. Without that performance we likely don't win last night's ballgame. I'm not expecting 34 points and 15 rebounds for Mike per game the rest of the way, but we'll need similar big-time production out of someone from night to night if we want to make a run at the SEC title and the NCAA tournament. Don't be surprised if that person is Michael Carrera.

We Need You, Sindarius

After scoring 22 points at home against the Missouri Tigers, he scored 7 total points on a whopping 2-23 shooting against Ole Miss and Tennessee. We probably should have lost the Ole Miss game and we got pushed around a bit in Knoxville last weekend against the Tennessee Volunteers. Luckily for us, Sindarius Thornwell broke out of his slump a little bit last night with 15 points on 4-9 from the field and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. While Carrera had a huge game, I think Sindarius is our most important player. He makes others around him better and teams have to account for him at all times. When he is being effective on offense it opens up the floor for other players around him to score and contribute. We can't afford from him to go cold for almost two full games. If we're going to be the best that we can be, Sindarius has to bring it night in and night out.

The Gamecocks will play host to the Alabama Crimson Tide this Saturday. Tipoff is at 6PM at the Colonial Life Arena!