For the first time, South Carolina swept the SEC men’s basketball player-of-the-week awards.
Forward Sam Muldrow was named player of the week Monday after notching a double-double and triple-double in wins last week. Point guard Bruce Ellington was named freshman of the week for his clutch performance in an upset of No. 22 Vanderbilt.
Muldrow scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 91-56 win over S.C. State last Tuesday. The Florence native improved on that in the SEC opener Saturday, when he dominated Vanderbilt with 16 points, 14 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocked shots in an 83-75 overtime win.
His triple-double was the second in school history. Muldrow has three double-doubles and a triple-double in his past seven games. He averaged 15.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and eight blocks per game last week.
“When he comes out (and is) active and (works) to impact with his energy and length, he plays better, and I think he’s learning to do that more consistently,” USC coach Darrin Horn said.
Horn twice this season has called out Muldrow for lackluster play. The forward has scored six points or fewer in five games, four of which have been losses. When it comes to pushing the team’s only four-year senior to perform better, Horn said, “You name it and we’ve done it.
“We’ve watched film, we’ve challenged him, we’ve met privately, we’ve called him out, we’ve encouraged him. Really, anything we can do to constantly remind him how important he is to our team and what impact he can have.”
Horn said some of Muldrow’s inconsistency stems from issues with confidence and maturity.
“He’s gotten better every year, and he has grown up a little more every year,” the coach said.
Muldrow ranks 11th nationally with 3.14 blocks per game. He needs 34 blocks to break the career school record held by Brandon Wallace. USC ranks seventh in the country with 6.57 blocks per game.
Ellington averaged 17.5 points, five rebounds and four assists last week.
USC’s leading scorer had 13 points against the Bulldogs and a team-high 22 points and seven rebounds vs. the Commodores. The 5-foot-9 Moncks Corner native hit five 3-pointers to help lead the Gamecocks’ comeback from a 14-point deficit against Vanderbilt.
The last time
the Gamecocks won the SEC’s weekly awards: Devan Downey was named player of the week on Feb. 1 after the upset of top-ranked Kentucky last season. Mike Holmes was named freshman of the week on March 10, 2008.
No slowing for snowing
Monday’s snowstorm did not affect practice, especially since classes have not resumed, and has not forced changes in travel plans to Tuscaloosa for Wednesday’s matchup with Alabama, the team said. USC leaves today for its first SEC road game of the season.
USC’s RPI zoomed from the 170s to 118th following the upset of Vanderbilt, a top-20 RPI team, according to realtimerpi.com. The Gamecocks’ strength of schedule also improved some 60 places, to 209th. Alabama, like many teams in the SEC’s West Division, has a worse RPI (184th) and strength of schedule (252nd) than USC.
The Gamecocks have committed 10 fewer turnovers than their opponents in the past three games. The key: Ellington, the team’s turnover leader, has four in the past three games after averaging nearly four a contest to start the season.
Sixth-man Ramon Galloway has shot 30 percent from the field — including 25 percent on 3-pointers — in his past three games. That’s below the sophomore guard’s season averages of 39 percent in both categories. But since he’s put up the second-most shots on the team during that stretch, Galloway has averaged 11.3 points — slightly better than his season mark.