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February 26, 2012

USC-Tennessee Hoops Extra



VIDEO: Bruce Ellington, Malik Cooke


VIDEO: Darrin Horn


With its seventh loss in eight games, South Carolina continues to close in on a bit of very sour history.

The Gamecocks (10-18, 2-12 SEC) are in danger of notching the program's fourth 20-loss season in its history if they can't find a way to win another game. With two regular-season games left, plus at least one in the SEC tournament, USC will at least match 20 losses if it can't find a way to beat Mississippi State, Georgia and/or its SEC tournament opponent (shaping up to be the SEC's fifth seed, which at the moment, would be Tennessee, Alabama or LSU).

The Gamecocks can win two and avoid it altogether, assuming they don't make a miraculous run through the SEC tournament, claim an NCAA tournament berth and therefore set themselves up for another loss. But two losses among the final three games will match 20, which was last "accomplished" in 1998-99, the beginning of Eddie Fogler's end as coach.

The only other times USC has lost 20 was in 1958-59, under Walt Hambrick; and in 1937-38, under Ted Petoskey. Two of the three 20-loss seasons ended with 21 defeats.

The Gamecocks are also in danger of notching their worst SEC record in their 21-year tenure in the league if they can't find a way to beat MSU or Georgia. USC went 3-13 twice (1991-92, under Steve Newton; and 1998-99) and has never finished with less than three SEC wins. The SEC has had many two-win teams in conference since the league expanded to 12 teams, most recently LSU in 2009-10, but none since then.

Coach Darrin Horn has seen his overall and SEC win total drop in every year of his tenure, and his record in the most crucial months continues to worsen. The Gamecocks are 1-7 in February, after going 2-8 in February/March last season, 2-8 the season before that and 5-6 in his first season.

HONOREES: The Gamecocks honored two individuals before Saturday's game.

The first was longtime stat crew member Deronda Powell, who is retiring at the end of this year. Powell was presented with a framed picture of her working at the stat table during a game, and congratulated by Horn and women's basketball coach Dawn Staley.

The second was for Malik Cooke, who scored his 1,000th career point in USC's last home game. The point total, which includes Cooke's time at Nevada, was broken with a 3-pointer. Cooke received a framed picture of himself jamming the ball.

Cooke will also be honored as USC's lone senior on Wednesday, in the Gamecocks' final home game.

THERE YOU ARE: Brian Richardson played for the first time in five games, checking in for six minutes. He missed each of his shots and had one foul.

SWITCHEROO: Damontre Harris returned to the starting lineup after a one-game absence. He was docked a start at Vanderbilt due to a minor academic issue.

He didn't stay in for long, picking up two fouls with a turnover and a goaltend in the game's first two minutes. Harris fouled out with zero points and one rebound.

His absence forced redshirt freshman Carlton Geathers to play a career-high 21 minutes. Geathers took up space in the lane and was told to simply not give up layups, but gave up two coupled with late fouls that produced three-point plays. He ended with one point, three boards, a block and a steal.

Anthony Gill also returned to the starting lineup after a five-game absence. His former replacement, R.J. Slawson, returned to coming off the bench. Gill produced nine points and six rebounds, while Slawson had three and four. Each had a blocked shot.

EXTENDING: Horn is now 0-8 against Tennessee, part of an 11-game winning streak the Volunteers have thrown at the Gamecocks. The Vols are one of two SEC teams that Horn has yet to beat in his four-year tenure.

The other - Mississippi State (0-4), which visits Columbia on Wednesday.

SEC STANDINGS
Team SEC Overall
*Kentucky 14-0 28-1
Florida 10-4 22-7
Vanderbilt 9-5 20-9
Alabama 8-6 19-9
Tennessee 8-6 16-13
LSU 7-7 17-11
Arkansas 6-8 18-11
Mississippi State 6-8 19-10
Ole Miss 6-8 16-12
Auburn 4-10 14-14
Georgia 4-10 13-15
South Carolina 2-12 10-18
*Clinched regular-season title
Saturday's games
Kentucky 83, Vanderbilt 74
Ole Miss 72, LSU 48
Arkansas 77, Auburn 71
Georgia 76, Florida 62
Alabama 67, Mississippi State 50
Tennessee 73, South Carolina 64

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