South Carolina (13-15) at Texas A&M (16-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Arena (12,989) -- College Station, Texas. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: South Carolina 9-8, Texas A&M 11-5. Away Record: South Carolina 1-7, Texas A&M 4-5. Neutral Record: South Carolina 3-0, Texas A&M 1-2. Conference Record: South Carolina 3-12, Texas A&M 6-9. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling SEC squads get together on Saturday night, as the Texas A&M Aggies welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to Reed Arena.
It's hard to believe that South Carolina was off to an impressive 10-3 start before entering SEC play, where it has plummeted to 13-15 overall, and at 3-12 in the league, it is only a game ahead of last-place Mississippi State. The Gamecocks hosted Missouri on Thursday night and were torched in a 90-68 final.
Texas A&M had been doing a solid job treading water in its first season as a member of the SEC until it began to sink in the standings by losing three of its last four. The Aggies most recently dropped a road matchup with Ole Miss on Wednesday, 82-73, to dip to 16-12 overall and 6-9 in conference, but they return home for this bout where they've gone 11-5 this year.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these newly-formed conference foes.
The Gamecocks never had a chance in their 22-point loss to Missouri, as they allowed the Tigers to connect on just shy of 70 percent of their field goal attempts. One of the few bright spots in the setback was Damien Leonard, who came off the bench to shoot 6-of-10 from 3-point range on his way to a career- high 20 points. Brenton Williams and Brian Richardson were also solid in reserve roles with 10 points apiece, although the starting five combined for just 19 points on the evening. The 68-point performance for South Carolina was actually its highest output in more than a month, and it has slipped in the SEC scoring rankings during that time to eighth, netting 66.3 ppg on 41.6 percent field goal efficiency. Michael Carrera is in the midst of a solid freshman campaign, posting team-highs of 10.2 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Williams hits on nearly 40 percent of his 3-point attempts for 10.0 ppg, while Bruce Ellington (9.7 ppg), Richardson (8.3 ppg) and Lakeem Jackson (7.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are also putting together solid seasons.
The Aggies actually had an impressive shooting night in their latest game, as they hit 53.6 percent from the floor (including 9-of-20 from 3-point range), but they had no answer at the other end for Ole Miss, which shot 50 percent from the floor. They also committed 16 turnovers and got outscored at the foul line, 14-4, on their way to the nine-point loss. Elston Turner continued his hot streak by connecting on 10-of-17 field goal attempts for 25 points, and he has averaged 27 points over the last five games. Fabyon Harris was stellar off the bench with 17 points, and Kourtney Roberson tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Texas A&M has a strong field goal percentage this season (.443), but it has only resulted in an average of 63.9 ppg, which is just barely enough to support its impressive scoring defense (61.7 ppg). Elston Turner's emergence has put him in the All-SEC discussion, as he now nets 17.6 ppg. Harris pours in 11.7 ppg, while Ray Turner (9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Roberson (6.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, .602 FG percentage) are strong contributors down low.
As poorly as South Carolina has played this season, it has been even worse on the road (1-7). Elston Turner will deliver another stud performance in this one as the Aggies get back on the winning track.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 68, South Carolina 59
03/02 10:39:35 ET