LSU (13-8) at South Carolina (12-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) -- Columbia, South Carolina. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: LSU 11-2, USC 8-6. Away Record: LSU 2-6, USC 1-5. Neutral Record: LSU 0-0, USC 3-0. Conference Record: LSU 4-6, USC 2-8. Series Record: LSU leads, 13-12.
GAME NOTES: The South Carolina Gamecocks will try to halt their season-long, four-game losing streak on Thursday night when they welcome the LSU Tigers to Colonial Life Arena for an SEC showdown.
LSU had been winners of three straight games heading into last Saturday's bout with Alabama, but it came away with a 60-57 road loss. The Tigers are a solid 13-8 overall this season, but they are just 4-6 in conference, and 2-6 away from Baton Rouge.
South Carolina currently sits a game above .500 at 12-11, but it has not fared well in SEC action, as its 2-8 league ledger has it right there with Mississippi State at the bottom of the conference standings. The Gamecocks have lost six of their last seven contests, including four in a row, culminating in a 66-61 home setback to Tennessee on Sunday afternoon.
LSU leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 13-12, but the Gamecocks closed the gap with an 82-73 victory in Baton Rouge on Jan. 16, giving them wins in three of the last four meetings.
The Tigers trailed Alabama by 11 points with under 10 minutes to play in their latest game, and even though they clawed back to make their deficit just one in the final two minutes, they would never take the lead. LSU shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the defensive struggle, which included a mere 4- of-15 showing from 3-point range. Johnny O'Bryant III was fantastic in defeat, tallying 22 points and 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double in the past seven games. Shavon Coleman added 11 points, while Anthony Hickey came up with three steals to stay consistent with his nation-leading 3.4 spg average. LSU's balanced scoring attack, which nets 70.4 ppg on 42.2 percent shooting, is paced by the efforts of O'Bryant III (8.5 rpg) and Hickey (3.7 apg), who both net 12.3 ppg. Coleman is hot on their heels with 11.4 ppg, while also adding 7.0 rpg and more than a block and steal per contest. Andre Stringer (10.7 ppg) and Charles Carmouche (9.0 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2.1 spg) have also been consistent performers for the Tigers.
South Carolina battled Tennessee tough in a game that featured 12 ties and 16 lead changes, but the Volunteers closed the contest on an 11-4 run to hand the Gamecocks a five-point loss. It was a disappointing afternoon for USC shooting wise, as it made less than 40 percent of its field goal attempts and was outscored from the foul line, 27-18. Michael Carrera was one of the few efficient performers, shooting 6-of-9 from the field for 18 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds. Brian Richardson wasn't as effective with his attempts (6-of-15), but he still finished with 17 points. On the season, South Carolina has a solid scoring average (68.2 ppg), but it has been plagued by a defensive effort that allows exactly the same. Only Carrera (11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Brenton Williams (10.3 ppg) net in double figures on a nightly basis, but Bruce Ellington, Lakeem Jackson and Richardson all average between 8.4 ppg and 9.9 ppg, and five others score at least 3.5 ppg.
These two teams have very similar makeups, boasting balance throughout their rotations while being vulnerable at the defensive end of the court. Both have been erratic on the road as well, meaning South Carolina gets the edge here almost by default.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 74, LSU 70
02/14 10:32:40 ET