Start time: Approx. 3/3:30pm (25 minutes after Georgia/Kentucky end time)
TV: SEC Network (Joe Tessitore, Sean Farnham, Kaylee Hartung)
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Columbia) | Live Audio: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
Winner plays: (1) Kentucky/(8) Georgia winner tomorrow at 1pm (ESPN)
How they got here: Dazon Ingram scored 17 on 7-7 shooting and Corban Collins dropped in 14 points in 18 minutes off the bench (4-6 from three) as Alabama hammered Mississippi State 75-55 yesterday in the second round. The Bulldogs managed only a 1-11 performance from beyond the arc as opposed to the Tide’s 8-16 mark. As for the Gamecocks, they’ve been off since a 75-70 loss at Ole Miss on Saturday.
When we last left South Carolina, they were walking off the court on the wrong end of the scoreline in a battle with Ole Miss at The Pavilion despite a 25-point outing by Sindarius Thornwell. Five days later, the SEC Player of the Year and his team look to knock off a team that got the better of them in the regular season.
I tweeted this yesterday but will say it again here, as obvious as it sounds: If the Gamecocks had any lingering thoughts of their quarterfinal opponent being a cakewalk (not that they did), those were dispelled yesterday as the Tide dismantled Mississippi State. Perhaps it’s better in the end that they did get Alabama to get a measure of revenge against a team that beat them on February 8 in arguably one of the most memorable basketball games in Colonial Life Arena’s nearly 15-year history. It’s unlikely that we’ll see another game of that caliber when these two teams meet again today.
A loss for the Gamecocks wouldn’t cause a dramatic drop in the RPI and their NCAA projections (Lunardi has them as an 8 seed right now in the Midwest region while SBN’s Chris Dobbertean has them as a 7 in the West), but it could cause Carolina fans to sweat it out in fear that Greg Gumbel won’t call their name on Sunday. A win would probably seal a bid for them especially if Kentucky beats bubble team Georgia in the first game. But that’s if South Carolina wins.
You never fully know what you’ll get with the Crimson Tide. While Braxton Key is statistically their best player with 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game and has led the team in scoring the most times this season out of any other player, it was Ingram and Collins leading the way yesterday against Mississippi State. Against the Gamecocks, Avery Johnson Jr. was the top point man for the Tide. While they aren’t the most talented in the SEC by any stretch, they have a lot of players capable of contributing in big ways.