South Carolina (10-5) at LSU (9-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Maravich Center (13,215) -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: USC 7-3, LSU 8-1. Away Record: USC 0-2, LSU 1-3. Neutral Record: USC 3-0, LSU 0-0. Conference Record: USC 0-2, LSU 0-2. Series Record: LSU leads, 14-12.
GAME NOTES: The South Carolina Gamecocks and the LSU Tigers will try to recover from recent losses, as the two get set for an SEC clash in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night.
Frank Martin's first season as head coach of South Carolina can already be deemed a success, as the team's 10 wins already matches the total from the entire 2011-12 campaign, but things have not started all that smoothly in the SEC as it has dropped its first two league bouts.
The Gamecocks hosted Auburn last Saturday and although they fought hard, they eventually lost, 74-71, in a game that featured 13 ties and 27 lead changes. They ultimately couldn't keep up with the Tigers' hot shooting, as the winners made good on better than 58 percent of its field goal attempts, all while shooting a modest 45.6 percent themselves. Bruce Ellington nearly lifted his team to victory with 18 points and five assists, while Damien Leonard was fantastic off the bench with 17 points (5-of-8 from 3-point range) and nine rebounds. Lakeem Jackson and Eric Smith chipped in 10 points apiece in the setback.
Similar to South Carolina, LSU's season got off to a fast start as it won its first six games and nine of its first 11 overall, but it too has stumbled out of the gates in SEC action by suffering consecutive losses.
The Tigers faced a tough task last Saturday in hosting nationally-ranked Florida, and they were overmatched from the start as they wound up on the wrong end of a 74-52 final. LSU shot a lowly 32.3 percent from the floor, including 6-of-24 from beyond the arc, and it connected on only 4-of-10 tries from the charity stripe. Anthony Hickey led the way with 15 points, four assists and four steals, and Shavon Coleman added 11 points, albeit on only 5- of-13 accuracy from the field.
South Carolina has won two of the last three meetings with LSU, including a 64-56 triumph last February at the Maravich Center, but the Tigers still hold a 14-12 advantage all-time.
South Carolina has been stellar at the offensive end of the court this season, ranking in the upper-half of the SEC in both field goal percentage (.456) and scoring offense (72.5 ppg). Although leading scoring LaShay Page (11.7 ppg) will miss the rest of the season, the Gamecocks have plenty of depth to make up for his absence. Brenton Williams nets 11.5 ppg while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor (including 45.1 percent from 3-point range). Ellington adds 11.3 ppg, Brian Richardson, Michael Carrera and Jackson all average between 9.0 and 9.8 ppg, while Jackson and Carrera each grab at least 6.8 rpg. Eric Smith doesn't score much (6.1 ppg), but he ranks third in the SEC with 4.1 apg.
Even though LSU boasts a lower field goal percentage than South Carolina (.434), it actually scores more points per game (74.2 ppg) by earning extra possession with 14.8 offensive rebounds per tilt (third in SEC). Despite starting just three of 13 games, Coleman is the team's catalyst with 13.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg, and more than a block and a steal per outing as well. Andre Stringer (11.4 ppg) has made 30-of-72 shots from long range (.417), and Hickey (11.3 ppg) ranks second in the nation in logging 3.5 spg. Johnny O'Bryant III averages 10.5 ppg and grabs a team-high 7.3 rpg, and Charles Carmouche chips in with 9.7 ppg and 3.8 apg.
LSU's slip up against Florida last time out was its first loss in Baton Rouge this season, and even though South Carolina is much-improved under its new head coach, the Tigers should be able to get back on track in front of the hometown faithful.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 75, South Carolina 70
01/16 10:34:21 ET