South Carolina vs. Western Kentucky
Date: Thursday, December 22nd
Time: 7:00 PM
Where: Colonial Life Arena - Columbia, SC
After two back-to-back losses, the Gamecocks are looking to pick up a much needed win against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. It would keep the 4-0 all time record against the Hilltoppers perfect.
Western Kentucky has a strong 8-2 record, but not many great wins. They were the first team to lose to Louisville, which is a very, very good sign for the Gamecocks. The Hilltoppers are ranked 127th in KenPom’s latest advanced metric ratings.
The Hilltoppers are looking to make a splash in the college basketball world, last making the NCAA Tournament in 2013. Dayvion McKnight of the Hilltoppers is helping to that cause, averaging 15.4 points per game while swiping 2 steals a night.
The strongest part of Western Kentucky’s game is their ability to shoot the three ball. They currently lead the C-USA in three point percentage at 42.3%. Luke Frampton is a large part of this, shooting an insane 54.4% from beyond the arc so far this season.
One thing that should favor the Gamecocks is the fact that the game is being played at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina is currently 4-0 at home on the season, and show no signs of slowing down while competing in front of their home crowd.
GG Jackson needs to have a strong bounceback game after his performance against ECU. I believe an efficient 22 and 7 would be enough to push the Gamecocks right past Western Kentucky. However, Jackson’s confidence in his three-point shot is here, and it is here to stay.
Chico Carter Jr. will play a key role in tonight’s game against the Hilltoppers. His team high 2.5 three-point makes a game and 50% shooting from beyond the arc will be greatly needed to combat the Hilltoppers strong three-point shot.
Something that had disappointed Gamecock fans all around is the lack of Zachary Davis playing time. With guards like Meechie Johnson and Jacobi Wright typically playing inconsistent, I am not sure why we haven’t seen more of Davis. He is a 6’7 guard that can handle the ball well, defend, and shoot the three-ball as well. If Johnson or Wright are not feeling their shot tonight, we need to see Davis touch the floor.
Hayden Brown has to improve his defense for South Carolina to be even respectable defensively. Other teams tend to isolate Brown with no defensive help, which leads to an easy bucket almost every time due to Brown’s sub-par perimeter defense.
KenPom is giving the Gamecocks a 49% chance to defeat the Hilltoppers, with a score prediction of South Carolina 66, Western Kentucky 67.
My Prediction: South Carolina 68, Western Kentucky 65