GAME NOTES: The South Carolina Gamecocks will tip off a two-game homestand at Colonial Life Arena on Thursday when they welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores to Columbia for an SEC showdown.
This game was originally scheduled for Wednesday but moved due to inclement weather.
Vanderbilt had won a season-high four straight games prior to its most recent bout on Saturday, which it lost at home to Arkansas in heartbreaking fashion, 77-75. The Commodores are 13-9 overall this season and 5-5 in the SEC, but they've gone just 2-4 on the road.
South Carolina hasn't had much to cheer about this season at 8-15, and it sits alone in last place in the SEC with losses in nine of its 10 league bouts. The Gamecocks were thoroughly handled by Tennessee on the road on Saturday, 72-53, for their third straight losses.
Vanderbilt has won five straight games over South Carolina to surge ahead in the all-time series, 28-24.
After trailing by nine with under eight minutes to play in their latest game, the Commodores climbed back in it by ripping off a 13-0 run and held a one- point lead in the final minute before Michael Qualls drained the game-winning 3-pointer for Arkansas with four seconds left. They shot an impressive 51.1 percent from the field but could not keep pace with the red-hot Razorbacks, who made good on 54 percent of their field goal tries. Rod Odom led the way with 22 points, while Kyle Fuller tallied 20 points and five assists and Damian Jones and Dai-Jon Parker netted 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Although Vanderbilt ranks just 13th in the SEC in scoring offense with 67.4 ppg, it has been able to find success this season behind a strong defensive effort, which allows just 65.9 ppg on 40.4 percent field-goal shooting. Odom is the catalyst with 15.2 ppg and 5.8 rpg, and he's knocked down 67 3-pointers at a 44.1 percent clip. Fuller shoots less than 40 percent from the field but still posts 11.7 ppg and 4.4 apg, while Jones tallies 11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg and more than a block per outing.
The Gamecocks were no match for Tennessee over the weekend, as they fell behind by 23 at the half and never got close in the second stanza. They were outshot from the field, 52.8 percent to 35.7 percent, and committed a game- high 14 turnovers. Sindarius Thornwell was the lone standout in the loss with 15 points, four assists and four steals, but he shot just 5-of-18 from the field.
Unsurprisingly, South Carolina has failed to impress on either end of the floor this season, as it ranks in the bottom half of the SEC in both scoring offense (70.6 ppg) and scoring defense (71.3 ppg). The team does manage to knock down an impressive 37.2 percent of its 3-point tries, but it only makes 5.5 long-range buckets per contest. Brenton Williams has 58 of the team's 126 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 13.8 ppg, and his .962 free-throw percentage ranks tops in the nation among qualified foul shooters. Thornwell is shooting just 40.5 percent from the field in his freshman campaign but has still been solid with 13.3 ppg and more than a steal per game.
Although South Carolina is just 1-3 in its last four home games, the three losses have come by a combined nine points, so expect this matchup to go down to the wire as well. Vanderbilt is far from an explosive squad, but it has made the most of its talent this season and should find a way to squeak out a close one against the reeling Gamecocks.
Game Date and Time