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Men’s Basketball Preview: South Carolina vs. ECU

Battle of the Carolinas

NCAA Basketball: Presbyterian at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina vs. East Carolina
Date: Saturday, December 17th
Time: 2:00 PM
Channel: ESPN+
Location: Bon Secours Wellness Arena - Greenville, SC

The Gamecocks are attempting to turn around their season with a win against border rival East Carolina. South Carolina and the Pirates are very unfamiliar with each other, only facing off one time in 2004, where the Gamecocks came out on top 57-53.

ECU is 7-4 on the season, most recently picking up a win against Coppin State 84-75. They are currently ranked 224th on KenPom’s latest advanced metric ratings, the fourth lowest of the opponents the Gamecocks have faced this season.

The Pirates are far from a premier college basketball program, only making the NCAA Tournament twice in the 59-year history of the program. Their most recent appearance was in the 1992-93 season, where they lost in the first round.

Sophomore guard Javon Small is a key player for the Pirates, leading the team in points(18.1), assists(5.7), and steals(1.2). Sophomore forward Brandon Johnson has also played a key role for the Pirates so far, averaging 13 points per game and a team high 8.9 rebounds per game.

The Gamecocks took a bad loss to the UAB Blazers their last time out. If all hope was not already lost, this loss to the Blazers 100% confirmed that South Carolina will NOT be in the NCAA Tournament. The only thing that can save the Gamecocks now is a cinderella SEC Tournament run.

Contrary to the Gamecocks early season struggles, I do believe they can pull out this victory. Per usual, GG Jackson will have to play well in order for this happen. A main part of this is Jackson’s ability to shoot the three-pointer well, which he has been doing, shooting around 36% so far this season.

Chico Carter Jr. has been another bright spot on the Gamecocks this season. To go along with his buzzer beater to beat Clemson, he leads the team in three point makes a game with 2.7, as well as putting up 12 points a night.

One thing that has been killing South Carolina this season is their ability to rebound. The Gamecocks only average 34.9 rebounds per game, which is tied for 161st in the nation. The leading rebounder for the Gamecocks is GG Jackson, with only 6.8 boards a night. The Gamecocks will have to be felt on the glass if they wish to travel home with a smile on their face and a game in the win column.

KenPom is giving South Carolina a 63% chance to come out on top against ECU with a score prediction of South Carolina 68, ECU 64.

My Prediction: South Carolina 72, ECU 70