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Men’s Basketball Preview: South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

Conference Play has begun!

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

South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt
Date: Tuesday, January 3rd
Time: 7:00 PM
Channel: SECN
Where: Memorial Gymnasium - Nashville, TN

The Gamecocks are looking to pick up a third straight win in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores. This is a crucial matchup for South Carolina as it is the first SEC matchup of the season.

The Commodores have the same record as South Carolina at 7-6. While they have some decent wins, they also some bad losses to Grambling State and Southern Miss. Vanderbilt is currently ranked 96th in KenPom’s latest advanced metric ratings.

Senior Forward Liam Robbins has been a force for the Commodores this season, leading the team in points per game with 11.9, as well as leading the team in rebounds per game with 5.8. Robbins has also been an elite rim protector, averaging an absurd 2.8 blocks per game.

Another player the Gamecocks have to watch out for is Erza Manjon. Manjon is lightning quick and plays great perimeter defense. While only putting up 7.5 points a night, Manjon is swiping a team high 1.3 steals per game as well as a team high of 3.1 assists per game.

This game should be a true test of how South Carolina is going to fare against SEC competition. KenPom is projecting the Gamecocks to lose out, with a final record of 7-24. If the Gamecocks could pull off this win on the road, it could completely turn around their season.

This will also be the first taste of SEC action for GG Jackson. Jackson has been balling this season, averaging team highs of 17.2 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. He will have to continue this type of play for the Gamecocks to at least have some semi-success in the SEC.

Some things that are concerning about this Gamecock squad heading into conference play include the lack of ability the shoot free throws, and their play in home games compared to away games. South Carolina is shooting just 60.2% from the free throw line, which is 356th in the nation. They will need to improve on this in order to close out close games later in the season. Out of the Gamecock’s 7-6 record, they are 6-0 at home and 1-6 in away games. The ability to adapt to different environments around the country will be crucial for the Gamecocks if they wish to prove everybody wrong and have a successful rest of the season.

KenPom is giving the Gamecocks a 21% chance to come out on top with a score prediction of South Carolina 58, Vanderbilt 67

My Prediction: South Carolina 54, Vanderbilt 69