Vanderbilt (6-9) at South Carolina (11-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) -- Columbia, South Carolina. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Vanderbilt 4-4, South Carolina 7-3. Away Record: Vanderbilt 1-2, South Carolina 1-2. Neutral Record: Vanderbilt 1-3, South Carolina 3-0. Conference Record: Vanderbilt 0-3, South Carolina 1-2. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 25-23.
GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will try once again to win their first SEC contest of the season, as they pull into Columbia to tangle with the South Carolina Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena.
Vanderbilt closed out its non-conference schedule on Jan. 2 with a 64-50 win over William & Mary, but since then it has opened SEC play with defeats against Kentucky, Arkansas and Ole Miss. The Commodores have lost three games in a row for the second time this season, and they sit at a disappointing 6-9 overall.
After falling in its first two league matchups, South Carolina registered its first SEC triumph of the season on Wednesday with an 82-73 overtime victory at LSU. Head coach Frank Martin has helped orchestrate quite a turnaround in his first season at the helm. At 11-5, the Gamecocks have already surpassed their win total from the entire 2011-12 campaign (10-21).
The Commodores have won three straight over the Gamecocks and 10 of the last 13 to take a 25-23 lead in the all-time series.
Vanderbilt led Ole Miss for virtually the entire second half at home on Wednesday night, even extending its advantage to 13 with under nine minutes to play, but it saw that lead slip away down the stretch as Ole Miss forced overtime, where it eventually saddled the Commodores with a 89-79 loss. Vandy was busy from long range, launching an astounding 40 3-point attempts while making 17 of them, both of which are Memorial Gym records. However, a poor night from the foul line (10-of-23) proved costly in the end. Kedren Johnson netted 19 points and dished out eight assists in the setback, Dai-Jon Parker tallied 16 points, six rebounds and four assists and Sheldon Jeter (13 points) and Kevin Bright (12 points) were also effective. Johnson is one of the most consistent guards in the SEC, ranking eighth in scoring at 15.9 ppg while draining 45.5 percent his field goal attempts. Kyle Fuller (10.5 ppg) is the second scoring option, but he hasn't been nearly as efficient from the floor (.387). As a team, Vandy scores a league-worst 59.1 ppg, although it stays competitive by allowing opponents to produce just 61.3 ppg.
South Carolina's latest tilt also ended in overtime, but it wound up on the winning side by shooting 2-of-4 from the field in the extra session and 9- of-10 from the free-throw line. The Gamecocks shot 44.8 percent from the field in Martin's first SEC win, but the biggest advantage came at the charity stripe, where they drained 28-of-37, while LSU was just 13-of-16. Michael Carrera came off the bench to tally a career-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Lakeem Jackson (11 points, 11 rebounds) also recorded a double-double. Brenton Williams finished just 3-of-13 from the field, but he made 9-of-10 free throw attempts on his way to 16 points, and R.J. Slawson rounded out the balanced effort with 11 points. Williams (11.8 ppg), Carrera (10.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg), and Jackson (9.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg) are all regular contributors, as is Bruce Ellington with 10.7 ppg. South Carolina, which scores 73.1 ppg on 45.5 percent shooting, employs a deep rotation, as six others score between 3.3 and 8.4 ppg. The team is also strong on the glass, boasting a +8.4 rebounding margin.
Vanderbilt usually puts forth a strong effort at the defensive end, which will always give it a chance to win games. That said, if the Commodores start scoring at a more consistent rate, it's difficult to trust them on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 67, Vanderbilt 61
01/19 10:34:51 ET