South Carolina (10-16) at Vanderbilt (19-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 22nd, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gym (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: South Carolina 9-7, Vanderbilt 11-5. Away Record: South Carolina 1-7, Vanderbilt 6-3. Neutral Record: South Carolina 0-2, Vanderbilt 2-0. Conference Record: South Carolina 2-10, Vanderbilt 8-4. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 25-24.
GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores look to continue their recent string of inspired play in a Southeastern Conference showdown with South Carolina this evening at Memorial Gym.
Vanderbilt notched a 61-52 road win at Georgia Sunday for its second straight victory and third in four games. The Commodores trailed 29-28 after a sloppy first half but turned up the heat coming down the stretch, shooting 57.9 percent from the floor in the second half while holding the Bulldogs to a paltry 29.4-percent clip. Junior John Jenkins paced the effort with 28 points, including a 6-for-8 performance from beyond the arc. Jeffery Taylor struggled with his shot, going 4-of-11, but managed to chip in 13 points as Vandy kept pace in the SEC a game behind second-place Florida at 8-4.
South Carolina dropped a 68-58 decision to LSU at home Saturday, failing to build off one of only two conference wins on the year. Senior Malik Cooke dropped 17 points, but was the lone Gamecock in double figures. Overall, USC shot 42.6 percent from the field and was outrebounded 35-23. Damontre Harris added eight points in defeat as the Gamecocks lost for the sixth time in seven games overall, dropping to 2-10 in league play.
Vanderbilt won in Columbia, 67-57, January 10 to take a 25-24 lead in the all- time series with USC. The Commodores own a 13-10 edge in games staged in Nashville and took last year's meeting at Memorial Gym by way of a 78-60 decision.
The Gamecocks struggle on offense and sit second from the bottom in the SEC at 62.0 ppg on just 41.0 percent shooting. The defense allows it to be somewhat competitive in holding opposing teams to 64.8 ppg -- but strangely on a league-worst 44.7 percent shooting from the field. The Gamecocks don't do themselves any favors in the rebounding department either, securing a conference-low 31.3 per game. Despite having a favorable rebounding defense at 32.8 per contest, USC's margin stands second from the bottom in the SEC. Cooke's 12.3-point average paces the offense and his 4.7 rpg are third on the club behind Harris (5.4 rpg) and Anthony Gill (4.8 rpg). Bruce Ellington slots in second on the team with his 10.2 ppg followed by Gill (8.0 ppg), Harris (7.0 ppg) and Damien Leonard (6.5 ppg), who is also USC's top three-point threat with 43 on 32.6 percent shooting.
The Commodores have the SEC's leading scorer in Jenkins, who stands at 20.1 points per game on a solid 49.3 percent shooting. Meanwhile, Taylor, despite his struggles versus Georgia, serves as an excellent option for Vandy and ranks second in the SEC with his 17.8-point average. It's no surprise then that the Commodores own one of the league's best scoring offenses at 74.4 ppg -- third to only SEC stalwarts Kentucky and Florida. Taylor drops in 53.4 percent of his shots to rank alongside the league leaders while Vandy as a whole shoots 46.8 percent from the field -- good for second in the conference. Providing some depth behind the Commodores unmatched 1-2 punch is Festus Ezeli (9.8 ppg), Brad Tinsley (9.0 ppg) and Lance Goulbourne (8.7 ppg). Goulbourne also tops the roster in rebounding at 6.9 per game while Taylor grabs 5.9 per contest and Ezeli 5.4 rpg. Tinsley sits among the league leaders with 4.4 assists per game. Vanderbilt holds down a decent plus-1.7 margin on the glass (35.0-33.3) as a result. The defense does enough on most nights, allowing 66.1 ppg on 42.0 percent shooting.
Vanderbilt can't afford a letdown against South Carolina with games against both Kentucky and Florida coming up. The duo of Jenkins and Taylor would be tough for any team to handle, and the Gamecocks simply just don't have enough to answer with.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 71, South Carolina 62
02/22 10:45:32 ET