South Carolina (22-5) vs. Tennessee (13-14)
WATCH: 9:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
After losing two in a row, South Carolina will have an opportunity to win two in a row when the Tennessee Volunteers arrive in Colonial Life Arena Wednesday night. The Gamecocks will also seek to even the season series with Rick Barnes' team after the Vols secured a 78-69 win over USC nearly a month ago in Knoxville.
Kevin Punter, one of the SEC's most talented scorers, exploded in the second half against South Carolina, fueling UT to a win on a disappointing Gamecock Saturday. Punter, however, may be unavailable in the rematch Wednesday night in Columbia.
The senior guard has been dealing with a stress fracture in his foot and is unlikely to play against South Carolina. It would be a huge blow for Tennessee as he is the team's best player and ranks second in the conference in scoring (22.2 PPG).
South Carolina knows a team losing its best player may not matter much. Hours before the Gamecocks and Tigers tipped off with Missouri last week, Mizzou's best player was dismissed from the team. USC managed to somehow lose that game anyway. And UT is a much better team than that Missouri squad.
Like South Carolina though, the Vols struggle when they have to leave their home floor. Tennessee is 1-9 on the road this season, their lone win coming over a month ago in Starkville. With Punter out, UT will depened on Armani Moore and Robert Hubbs III to carry the scoring load. In their last outing, an 81-65 home win over LSU, Moore and Hubbs combined for 36 points.
South Carolina broke a seven-game losing streak to Florida by defeating them in overtime this past weekend. They earned their 22nd win on the year, their most regular-season wins since 1997. Michael Carrera was again magnificent, contributing yet another double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Tennessee holds a Florida-like domination over this Gamecock program. UT has won nine of the last 10 meetings and 17 of the last 20. The last time USC beat the Vols in Columbia, it was 2007 and I had a lot more hair. A big moment from last season was the Gamecocks win in Knoxville to close the year out. They have far bigger goals this year and taking care of their home court on Wednesday will be yet another step in the right direction.