No. 25 South Carolina (19-2) at Georgia (11-8)
WATCH: 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Entering Stegeman Coliseum last February, the Gamecocks were sitting at 12-12 and looking to rebound from a 34-point home loss to No. 1 Kentucky. How times have changed. Not quite a year later and No. 25 South Carolina is shooting for its 20th win of the year against the Bulldogs.
USC slipped back into the Associated Press Poll after last week's 2-0 performance. Last year's team had three meetings with Georgia, sweeping the regular season match-ups before falling to UGA in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals. This year, the Gamecocks are looking for win No. 20 during the first game between the two programs. A win on Tuesday night in Athens would give USC their 16th 20-win season all-time and their most conference wins in a season since 2009.
South Carolina hits the road this week, where three of their next five games will be held. The Gamecocks emerged victorious at home last week against Mississippi State and Alabama. The latter featured the first career start for freshman Chris Silva. He contributed 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks as USC evened the season series with the Tide. Head coach Frank Martin loves the energy and toughness he brings to the floor along with the passion and enthusiasm he plays with.
It sounds an awful lot like Martin is trying to get another Michael Carrera out there on the floor, and lately, that's certainly not a bad thing.
Carrera tallied his third-straight 20-point game and his second straight double-double in South Carolina's win over Alabama Saturday. He is the first Gamecock player to score at least 20 points in three consecutive games since Devan Downey in 2010 and he's the first Gamecock to contribute back-to-back double-doubles since Sam Muldrow in 2011.
Martin will go with the Carrera-Silva pairing from the opening tip once again Tuesday night against Georgia. Silva has brought more on the defensive end, rebounding and defending pick-and-rolls, than he has on offense. Against the Bulldogs, his physicality and length will be needed.
USC's usual size advantage will not be present in Athens. The Gamecocks will tangle with a pair of 6-foot-8 forwards in Yante Maten and Houston Kessler. Maten's 7.6 rebounds per game are a team-high.
Led by Mark Fox in his seventh season, the Bulldogs feature four players averaging double-figures, led by junior guard J.J. Frazier's 16.5 points per game. Georgia is a similar team to South Carolina in the fact that they have a balanced scoring attack and play defense about as good as anyone in the conference. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks both rank highly nationally in opponent field goal percentage. The two defenses could also create quite the foul fest on Tuesday night.
As underdogs, the Gamecocks posted a 64-58 win over Georgia in Athens last season. They're the better team this time around, but as this SEC season has shown you, anybody can be beaten - especially when they're playing on the road.