FIU (6-2) at South Carolina (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 24, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) -- Columbia, South Carolina. Television: SPSO, FSN-CAR. Home Record: FIU 3-0, South Carolina 1-0. Away Record: FIU 2-0, South Carolina 0-2. Neutral Record: FIU 1-2, South Carolina 0-0. Conference Record: FIU 0-0, South Carolina 0-0. Series Record:.
GAME NOTES: The FIU Panthers will attempt to improve their winning streak to seven games on Sunday afternoon, as they travel to Columbia for a bout with the South Carolina Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena.
FIU has been one of the busiest teams in the country during the first few weeks of the season with eight games already under its belt. After dropping their first two contests on opening weekend, the Panthers have caught fire with six consecutive victories, including their most recent triumph at Bethune-Cookman on Friday night, 82-67.
South Carolina, meanwhile, has had a relatively quiet start to the season with only three games, and it has gone just 1-2. The Gamecocks won their opener at home versus Longwood (82-44), but since then they have dropped a pair of difficult road contests at Baylor (66-64) and Clemson (71-57).
The Gamecocks defeated FIU in the only previous meeting in February of 1985, 110-72. This bout also marks the first time South Carolina head coach Frank Martin has ever faced his alma mater.
The Panthers led their latest game from start to finish, as they shot 43.1 percent from the field and outrebounded Bethune-Cookman by an astounding 49-30 margin on their way to a 15-point victory. Tymell Murphy proved why he's one of the top forwards in C-USA with an outstanding all-around performance, as he tallied 24 points (on 13-of-14 from the foul line), 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Rakeem Buckles (17 points, 15 rebounds) also logged a double-double, Marco Jimenez Porcher netted 14 points off the bench and Jason Boswell chipped in 13 points.
FIU's strong play at both the offensive (75.5 ppg) and defensive (63.9 ppg) ends has been prevalent throughout the young season. Buckles (15.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and Murphy (14.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg) are imposing forces in the frontcourt, and both are great defensive players as well, with each registering 14 blocks and 11 steals. Raymond Taylor (12.2 ppg) is the top threat out on the perimeter, while Jerome Frink (11.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) shoots greater than 55 percent from the floor.
In their latest loss to intrastate rival Clemson, the Gamecocks experienced a cold shooting night overall (.354), from 3-point range (.100), and from the foul line (.556). Mindaugas Kacinas did his best to overcome the struggles of his teammates by tallying 13 points (on 6-of-11 from the floor) and 12 rebounds, while Sindarius Thornwell was the only other player to score in double figures with 10 points.
South Carolina has not found much shooting success this season, as it connects on just over than 40 percent of its field goal attempts for 67.7 points per game, but luckily it holds opposing teams to just 34.2 percent shooting and 60.3 points per tilt. It also benefits from positive margins in rebounding (+6.7) and turnovers (+1.3). Thornwell (14.7 ppg) is the go-to scoring option. Tyrone Johnson (10.3 ppg) hands out 4.0 assists per outing, and Kacinas (7.7 ppg) is strong on the glass with 9.3 rebounds per game.
South Carolina plays stingy defense and should be a difficult draw at Colonial Life Arena all season long, but FIU looks like a legitimate contender in C-USA with the addition on former Louisville product Buckles. The Panthers' firepower in the paint will lift them to a solid road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FIU 71, South Carolina 66
11/24 10:32:13 ET