Gamecocks Begin SEC Play At Florida Saturday Night
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina begins SEC play on Saturday night on the road at Florida. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. ET for the matchup between the former SEC East foes, with Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Sean Farnham (analyst) on the call (ESPN2).
> South Carolina begins SEC action on Saturday at Florida, marking Carolina's first road game since the Dec. 8 matchup at No. 5 Michigan. Saturday's matchup will be the 72nd meeting all-time between the Gamecocks and Gators.
> The Gamecocks are 10-17 all-time in SEC openers, including a 4-11 mark in league openers on the road. Saturday's contest at Florida marks Carolina's fourth-straight season lidlifter away from home.
> Carolina broke a four-game winless streak with a 97-46 victory over North Greenville on Monday at Colonial Life Arena. Rookie guard A.J. Lawson led four in double figures with 22 points, while senior forward Chris Silva added 21 with a team high nine rebounds. Carolina connected on nine 3s in the contest, the most for the Gamecocks since posting 10 in a home win over Coastal Carolina on Nov. 30.
> Last season in Gainesville, graduate student guard Wesley Myers connected on five made 3-pointers for a game high 22 points, and then-junior forward Chris Silva scored 18 with 12 rebounds, to lead the Gamecocks to a 77-72 win over the No. 20/22 Gators. Graduate student guard Frank Bookersealed the win with four free throws late in the contest.
> Rookie forward Keyshawn Bryant hails from Winter Haven, Fla., and will be playing his first game in the Garnet and Black in front of his homestate crowd. Bryant scored 19 points in Carolina's win on Monday, and connected on eight made field goals, matching his season high for makes set in the season opener vs. USC Upstate (Nov. 6). On the year, the high-flying rookie is averaging 9.3 points and 3.7 rebounds, and has a team high 13 dunks.
THROUGH THE FIRST 12 GAMES...
> Carolina is 5-7, which includes a 4-4 mark in home games, 0-2 on the road and 1-1 in neutral-site contests ... After a bit of a slow start offensively this season, senior forward Chris Silva is back to his old form, having hit double-figures in each of the last five contests, averaging 15.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game during the stretch ... Rookie forward A.J. Lawson paces Carolina in scoring at 13.8 points per game; he is one of a heralded rookie class out of Canada, which includes UF's Andrew Nembhard ... Senior guard Hassani Gravett paces Carolina from beyond the arc, he has hit 19-of-49 attempts (38.8%) ... Silva has led Carolina in road games this season, averaging 14.5 points and 10 rebounds in those contests (at Wyoming/at No. 5 Michigan).
> South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is in his seventh season leading the Gamecocks and 12th season overall as a head coach in 2018-19. Martin, the 2017 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year (CollegeInsider.com), led South Carolina to its first Final Four and a school record 26 wins in 2016-17. In his 11 complete seasons as a head coach, Martin has led his teams to at least 21 wins seven times. Martin is a native of Miami, Fla., and a graduate of FIU.
> Prior to his time on the sidelines in the college ranks, Martin spent 15 years in high school coaching in Miami, Fla., including the last seven as a head coach. He was part of five state championships as an assistant at Miami Senior High School (1985-93), before earning two titles as the program's head coach (1995-98). Highlighting Martin's stint as the head coach of the program were consecutive 30-win seasons and consecutive Florida 6A State Championships in 1996 and 1997, with his 1997 squad earning a 36-1 overall record and ranking No. 4 in the USA Today Top 25 Poll. He also served as the head coach at North Miami Senior High School (1993-95) and one season at Booker T. Washington High School (1999-2000).
> Among active Division I head coaches, South Carolina's Frank Martin holds the seventh-highest (tied with Michigan's John Beilein) NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.667) behind only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams, Kentucky's John Calipari, Kansas' Bill Self, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Villanova's Jay Wright.
> Martin led team's are 95-95 (.500) all-time in league play.
> South Carolina is in its 111th season of varsity basketball in 2018-19.
> Gamecock head coach Frank Martin is joined on the sidelines by assistant coaches Perry Clark (6th season), Bruce Shingler (3rd season) and Chuck Martin (2nd season). Andy Assaley is in his seventh season as the director of operations.
> South Carolina is one of 13 DI schools nationally that have two or more former DI coaches serving as an assistant coach. Perry Clark served as the head coach at Tulane, Miami (Fla.) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, while Chuck Martin was the head coach at Marist for five campaigns.
> South Carolina advanced to its first Final Four in 2016-17, which included posting its first NCAA Tounament win since the 1973 campaign when it talied a 93-73 win over Marquette in the First Round.
> The Gamecocks are 24-14 (.631) in neutral-site contests under the direction of head coach Frank Martin, including a 3-3 mark last season.
> Carolina was 15-18 (.454) over the course of the last three seasons in away contests (2015-16, 16-17, 17-18).
> Martin is 29-40 (.420) against ranked opponents as a head coach. His teams have four wins over opponents ranked in the top five, and two wins over opponents who are ranked No. 1.
> Senior forward Chris Silva was named to the Preseason All-SEC First Team by both the media and coaches; and also named to the Karl Malone Award Watch List, the Naismith Trophy Watch List and the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List. He was also named a Senior CLASS Award Candidate.
SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS
> Carolina enters SEC action with a 5-7 overall record.
> South Carolina has been riddled with injuries this season, as five different Gamecocks have combined to miss 26 games this season due to injury/illness.
> In wins, the Gamecocks hold a +9.0 rebound margin, but in losses, opponents are +3.3.
> Carolina is forcing 16.4 turnovers per contest, and averaging 16.6 points per game off of turnovers.
> Lawson (13.8) and Silva (12.5) are the only Gamecocks averaging double-figures, however, eight different players average at least six points per game.
> Sophomore forward Felipe Haase has hit 23-of-26 attempts from the free throw line, 88.5 percent, a team best (20 or more attempts).
> Over the course of his career Silva is averaging 10.0 points per game against Florida (six games).
> South Carolina returns seven letterwinners from last season's 17-16 squad, including senior guard Hassani Gravett and senior forward Chris Silva.
> Carolina welcomes nine newcomers to its roster this season, including transfers and six freshmen student-athletes. Jair Bolden (transfer/George Washington/guard), redshirt-junior Raymond "Quad" Borup (r-junior/forward), graduate transfer Tre Campbell (transfer/Georgetown/guard), Keyshawn Bryant (freshman/guard), Jermaine Couisnard (freshman/guard), Alanzo Frink (freshman/forward), A.J. Lawson (freshman/guard), T.J. Moss(freshman/guard) and Nathan Nelson (freshman/forward).
SCOUTING THE GATORS
> The Gators are led by head coach Mike White in his fourth season at the helm of the Florida program.
> Florida is 8-4 on the year, including a 5-1 mark in home games. The Gators' lone loss at home came in a 63-59 defeat to Michigan State on Dec. 8.
> Just senior guard KeVaughn Allen is in double figures for the Gators at 10.3 points per game, however, eight different players provide at least 6.6 points per outing.
> Canadian rookie Andrew Nembhard is the SEC's top freshman with 5.8 assists per game. Nembhard played alongside Carolina's A.J. Lawson in the FIBUA U18 Americas Championship this summer, helping Team Canada to a silver medal at the event with 15.7 points per game.
> Senior forward Kevarrius Hayes paces the Gators from the field, having hit 35-of-50 attempts - 70.0% - this season. His 6.5 rebounds are also a team high.
> UF leads the SEC in scoring defense, as opponents average just 59.8 points per game. They also lead the conference in 3-point field goal percent defense, holding opponents to just 29.6 percent from beyond the arc.
COMING UP NEXT
> The Gamecocks are back at home next week for a pair of league contests, first hosting Mississippi State on Tuesday (9 PM/ESPNU), before welcoming Missouri to Colonial Life Arena on Saturday, Jan. 12, for a 1 PM matchup (SEC Network).