Who: South Carolina (5-1) vs. Temple (3-1)
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York
KenPom prediction: South Carolina 72, Temple 71
Radio: 107.5 The Game
Series: South Carolina leads, 8-6
Last meeting: Dec. 22, 2005 – Temple won 63-50 in Philadelphia
Coach: Frank Martin (218-129 in 10 seasons overall; Sixth season at USC — 101-75)
Projected starters: G Hassani Gravett (8.7 ppg); G Frank Booker (11.0); G/F Justin Minaya (9.3); F Chris Silva (14.0); F Maik Kotsar (11.0)
Notes: South Carolina’s four bench points against Florida International were its fewest since the Elite Eight game against Florida when the Gamecock reserves contributed just three points. ... Silva’s career-high 26 points against the Panthers came in just 29 minutes. The game marked the third time this season he’s committed at least four fouls. … Gravett, a point guard, is second on the team in rebounding (5.7/game). Kotsar, a forward, is first on the team in steals (2.0/game).
Coach: Fran Dunphy (527-284 in 29 seasons overall; Twelfth season at Temple – 217-121)
Projected starters: G Josh Brown (9.3), G Shizz Alston Jr. (18.3), G Quinton Rose (17.5), F Obi Enechionyia (15.5), C Ernest Aflakpui (5.0)
Notes: Temple’s three wins this season came against Old Dominion, Auburn and Clemson. Its loss was to La Salle. … The Owls, currently No.49 in Ken Pomeroy’s national rankings, were picked in the preseason to finish seventh in the American Athletic Conference. ... Alston is shooting 56 percent from the floor and, dating back to last season, has made 44 consecutive free throws.
1. TOUGHEST TEST YET
Temple swept action in the Charleston Classic – including a 67-60 win over Clemson on Nov. 19 – and led for nearly 39 minutes of a loss to cross-town rival La Salle on Nov. 26.
The Owls, NCAA Tournament participants in 2015-16, represent USC’s toughest test to date this season.
2. WHISTLE WATCH
The free throw line could determine this game.
Silva, coming off his career-best performance against FIU, leads the country in fouls drawn (10.4 per 40 minutes, according to KenPom.com). However, the Gamecocks rank No. 321 (out of 351) in allowing opponent free throws.
The Owls, at 81.2 percent, are among the best in the country at the charity stripe.
3. PROTECTING THE PERIMETER
Temple has three players – Brown (62.5), Alston Jr. (52.4), Enechionyia (47.6) – shooting better than 47 percent from 3. The Owls lead the AAC in 3-point shooting (41.8 percent).
South Carolina has held opponents this season to just under 31 percent from 3.