First an interesting statistic I picked up from the Commodore Game Notes (thank you for your hard work, Andy Boggs, VU SID): This season, Vanderbilt is 4-2 when trailing at the half. Last season, Vandy was 1-12 under the same circumstances. That my friends, is a big time sign of toughness and maturity. A win versus South Carolina and Vanderbilt will have opened 3-0 in SEC play for the first time under Coach Kevin Stallings. Ken Pomeroy's ratings give Vanderbilt a 59% chance of achieving that milestone (77-75, with a tempo of 75).
South Carolina has earned themselves a reputation among Vanderbilt fans. "Commodore Killers." Coach Kevin Stallings record all-time versus South Carolina is 9-11. Ask a Vandy fan and they'll tell you that South Carolina always seems to have our number.
Reality Check: Vanderbilt has won 6 of their last 7 against the Gamecocks.
Considering the Gamecocks have lost two major contributors for the season (Dominique Archie tore his ACL, Mike Holmes was kicked off the team and has transferred to Coastal Carolina), an overall record of 11-5 (and 2-0 in the SEC) is quite impressive.
For now, South Carolina is riding its workhouse - shifty speedster Devan Downey. As he goes, so goes the Gamecocks. This strategy has paid off so far, but one has to wonder how long it will continue to be successful if nobody else steps up into a consistent, major scoring role. My guess is sooner rather than later. South Carolina could end up suffering from the same issue looming on the horizon for Tennessee: fatigue due to lack of numbers.
*** Through Games Played 01/14/2010 /// All Numbers From Kenpom.com ***
Vanderbilt presents a far more difficult challenge to South Carolina than vice-versa, when compared to previous opponents. Vanderbilt will be the most efficient offense and third most efficient defense that South Carolina will have faced. On the other hand, the Gamecocks represent the 9th most efficient offense and 5th toughest defense the Commodores will have faced.
Physically, Vanderbilt towers over South Carolina's players. The Commodores hold the weight advantage as well. A.J. Ogilvy (6-10, 250) and Festus Ezeli (6-11, 255) hold quite an advantage over Sam Muldrow (6-9, 216) and Johndre Jefferson (6-9, 205) who are the Gamecocks tallest players. Expect the Commodores to focus on getting the ball inside. South Carolina will look to exploit Vandy's size off the dribble with their quickness. If this becomes a problem, Vanderbilt will neutralize it by playing zone, which has been very effective to this point. Considering this, the Gamecocks perimeter shooting will ultimately decide their fate.
Four Factors: Vanderbilt holds large leads in effective field goal percentage and free throw rate, the latter easily explained by the Commodores inside game and the Gamecocks' lack thereof. South Carolina holds slim leads in both turnover percentage and offensive rebounding percentage. Considering the difference in SOS (and size), I expect Vandy to win the rebounding war. Vanderbilt has also taken care of the ball of late; if they outplay the Gamecocks in the other three areas, all they'll need to do is keep it fairly close.
Traditional Statistics - South Carolina Gamecocks
Game Previews (Will Be Updated As Released By Sources)
Garnet and Black Attack is our SB Nation South Carolina Gamecock affiliate. They're the fine folks who run the weekly SEC Power Poll. Here is their game preview. Here is a cathartic post about Lane Kiffin.
Tipoff is set for 17:00 CT and the game will be televised on CSS (ESPN Full Court & ESPN360). Join us in the game thread, which will open about an hour before the tip. Don't forget to visit Stat King to make your selection for the game.