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USC hosts Vandy in hoops clash

South Carolina is coming off their first conference victory of the season and returns to the Colonial Life Arena on Saturday afternoon to host Vanderbilt in conference play.

South Carolina assistant Brad Underwood

Date: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013
Tipoff: 1:47 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Series: Vanderbilt leads 26-24
Last Meeting: Vanderbilt win, 59-48, Feb. 22, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn.
Television: SEC Network
Talent: Dave LaMont (pxp), Kara Lawson (analyst)

South Carolina picked up their first conference victory of the season on Wednesday night with an 82-73 victory over LSU in Baton Rouge, La. The win broke an eight game SEC losing streak as well as a 14-game conference road losing streak. The win also provided a much needed boost of confidence to everyone in the program according to assistant head coach Brad Underwood.

“Not only in our guys but in the coaches and everybody,” Underwood said. “Road wins are hard to get and to do the things we did and build on it and play really so well for a stretch in the first half was a positive.”

The Gamecocks trailed by four points on Wednesday night with two minutes remaining and rallied to force overtime. During the extra five minutes, the Gamecocks outscored the Tigers 12-3 and it was that type of close ball game that Underwood see’s as improving the ball club.

“Those are character building moments,” he said. Those are things that happen in a program and only going through the experience and going through the battle and having your guys experience that is the only way you get that so we feel very good about that.”

The Commodores enter the contest 0-3 in league play and coming off an 89-79 overtime loss to Mississippi in Nashville on Tuesday night. They are led 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Kedren Johnson who is averaging 15.9 points per game and shooting 37 percent from behind the three point line.

Vanderbilt comes into the game showing a bit of statistical anomaly in that they have been very good from the three-point line this season but struggled shooting free throws. Heading into Saturday’s game, they are averaging eight made three pointers a game which is good for 48th nationally and shooting 35 percent from deep. From the free throw line, however, they are shooting 57 percent placing 344 out of 345 teams in Division I basketball.

“That is what they do,” Underwood said. “It mind boggles me with a team that is so adapt at shooting the three and shoots so many of them that has struggled so mightily from the free throw line. Almost two out of three shots are coming from behind the arc and that is what they do.”

In order for the Gamecocks to pick up their second win of conference play it will require another solid defensive performance. According to Underwood, that can be difficult against a team like the Commodores.

“They will extend you and run a lot of five out stuff,” Underwood said. “They run some Princeton like offense. Kevin (Stallings) does an unbelievable job of coaching them. They have a lot of sets and counters so you have to be really solid.”

Saturday’s contest will be the 51st meeting between all-time with the Commodores holding a 26-24 advantage. The game will be televised on the SEC Network with tip off schedule for 1:47 p.m.. At halftime of the game, Steve Spurrier and the Gamecock football team will be honored for their 11-win season and Spurrier will address the crowd.

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