Start Time: 7pm
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 107.5 The Game
Live Audio: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
Well, it’s here.
Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and Justin McKie play in their final home games today as they host Mississippi State tonight at Colonial Life Arena. All three have had their own impact on the program, and it’s sure to be an emotional time during the pregame ceremony at 6:35.
But it’s on to business after that. South Carolina’s sitting in pretty good shape in the RPI (30) and already beat the Bulldogs in Starkville by a 77-73 count on February 11. They’re hoping for a little easier time this evening as they look to avoid any letdowns here and in the final game of the season, a Saturday night tilt in Oxford against Ole Miss at The Pavilion.
From a standings perspective, the Gamecocks currently sit tied for third with Arkansas at 11-5 in the SEC. However, that 83-76 loss to the Razorbacks means that Carolina, if the SEC Tournament were to start today, would have the fourth seed - but they’re still sitting pretty as they’re two games back of 9-7 Ole Miss right now. The good news? Arkansas plays Florida tomorrow night, and a Gamecocks victory coupled with a Hogs loss will put them in sole possession of third with one game to go. (The Rebels would be a potential quarterfinal opponent for Carolina if the standings hold up.)
The Bulldogs, who have absolutely dive-bombed by losing their last six, look destined for the #12/#13 game next Wednesday in Nashville as they sit a game behind Auburn for 11th place in the standings. Mississippi State can’t finish worse than their current position of 12th (Mizzou is a full three games back), and will need some help to get past Auburn for 11th place, but it seems as if it’s all academic at this point. Mizzou would be their opponent if things hold the way they are right now; the Bulldogs took down the Tigers 89-74 on January 25 in Starkville.
In their last meeting, Sindarius Thornwell scored 28 points on 9 of 15 shooting (3 of 5 beyond the arc) - with 19 of those points coming in the first 20 minutes. The Gamecocks survived despite allowing the Bulldogs to shoot over 52% from the field and 11-27 from three; that came on an off day for Quinddary Weatherspoon (just five points). It’s not likely that they’ll hold Weatherspoon to five points again - or that Mississippi State will shoot 11-27 from downtown - and the fact that Thornwell, Notice and McKie will be playing in front of a home crowd for the final time will add to the Gamecocks’ motivation factor.
More than anything, this night is all about the seniors. As I mentioned earlier, they’ve all had a great impact on this program since stepping on campus over four years ago. And with their potential first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament within reach, the hard work looks like it’s paid off.