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Game preview: South Carolina men return to action against No. 5 Virginia

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Oh good, another easy one.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina (4-5) vs. No. 5 Virginia (9-0)

Start time: 7 p.m.

TV: SEC Network

Live stream: watchespn.com

Last game

If it feels like the Gamecocks haven’t played since forever, it’s because they haven’t — South Carolina was last on the court in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Dec. 8, where it fell 89-78 to the then-No. 5 Wolverines. Big men Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar finally turned in the type of showings they’re capable of, with Silva posting 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Kotsar adding 16 points of his own. Promising freshmen A.J. Lawson (10 points) and Keyshawn Bryant (13) rose to the occasion against Michigan as well, and as a group, the Gamecocks shot an impressive 52 percent against a stingy Wolverines defense — and they remain the only team that has. South Carolina never really threatened to win the game, but it stayed within striking distance of a much superior team on the road, so it was an encouraging way to enter the break for exams.

What to watch for

The last time you paid attention to Virginia basketball, you were probably watching them become the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Hoos are right back to doing what they were before earning that dubious distinction, which is winning a lot of basketball games and looking among the elite of the ACC. The Gamecocks will be up against yet another tough defense, as the Cavaliers are holding opponents to 51.2 points per game. Offensively, De’Andre Hunter (15.6 points per game), Ty Jerome (13.7), and Kyle Guy (13.4) pace the Cavaliers, who lead the nation with a 1.81 turnover to assist ratio.

Interestingly, this will be the 50th meeting between the two schools due to South Carolina’s ACC heritage. Virginia holds a slim 25-24 lead in the series.