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USC, UNC could meet on hardwood

The Gamecocks defeated Radford 85-56 Friday evening at the Colonial Life Arena. Ramon Galloway outruns Radford players.
The Gamecocks defeated Radford 85-56 Friday evening at the Colonial Life Arena. Ramon Galloway outruns Radford players. ahaworth@thestate.com

Thanksgiving is about sharing old times and memories — and the South Carolina men’s basketball team likely will get that chance, too.

South Carolina is going to the Las Vegas Invitational next year and could meet old nemesis North Carolina for the first time in 15 years.

The Gamecocks and Tar Heels join Southern California and UNLV for the 11th annual tournament at the Orleans Arena. Also playing are Morgan State, Cal Poly, Mississippi Valley and Tennessee State.

South Carolina will play two of the smaller schools in Columbia the week before Thanksgiving and then head to Las Vegas for two games against the major-conference teams on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, tournament director Chris Spencer said.

One Las Vegas newspaper said the Carolinas schools will face off in a tournament semifinal game, but Spencer said matchups have not been decided.

The Gamecocks and Tar Heels have not met since an 86-75 North Carolina victory at a Charlotte tournament in 1996. The teams have played 78 times dating to 1917 with most of the contests coming when the schools were members of the Southern and Atlantic Coast Conferences from 1922-71. The Gamecocks have not beaten the Tar Heels since 1990 in Charlotte.

South Carolina also could face Southern Cal in a battle of “SCs.” The Los Angeles school won a trademark battle over the use of interlocking “S” and “C,” but the decision does not prevent the Gamecocks from using the logo, such as the ones worn by the baseball team.

South Carolina spokeswoman Emily Feeney confirmed the Gamecocks will play in the Las Vegas tournament. The team does not comment on schedules until they are completed.

South Carolina is not going to a holiday or nonconference tournament this season after reaching the final of the Charleston Classic in 2009.

Two-day tournament ticket packages are on sale for $85 to $170 at Orleans Arena, connected to a casino off the Vegas Strip. Spencer said the tournament also will have tickets later to sell for each school.

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