Frank Martin details USC’s challenge of playing at Wyoming
Who: South Carolina (4-3) at Wyoming (2-6)
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, Wyoming
KenPom prediction: South Carolina 79, Wyoming 74
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia area
Series: South Carolina leads, 2-1
Last meeting: Dec. 6, 2017— South Carolina won 80-64 in Columbia
Coach: Allen Edwards (45-34 in three seasons at Wyoming)
Projected starters: G Jake Hendricks (11.0 points per game), G Justin James (24.9), G Nyaires Redding (6.0), G/F T.J. Taylor (6.4), F Austin Mueller (3.9)
Last game: Lost to Northern Colorado, 85-80, on Dec. 1 at home
KenPom ranking: 202 (No. 185 in offensive efficiency, No. 227 in defensive efficiency)
Notes: James, a 6-foot-7 senior guard, is 10th in the nation in scoring. He went for 34 points and 20 rebounds in a loss to Evansville on Nov. 28. He had 20 and 12 against the Gamecocks last season. ... Edwards played high school ball for Martin at Miami Senior in the 1990s. His brother, Doug, is on Martin’s USC staff. ... Wyoming has had five 20-win seasons since 2011, including each of the past two years. The Cowboys were picked to finish seventh in the preseason Mountain West Conference poll. The Cowboys have wins this season over Grambling and Richmond.
Coach: Frank Martin (234-147 in 12 seasons overall; seventh season at USC — 117-93)
Projected starters: G T.J. Moss (7.0), G A.J. Lawson (14.9), G Hassani Gravett (11.1), F Chris Silva (10.1), F Maik Kotsar (8.1)
Last game: Beat Coastal Carolina, 85-79, on Nov. 30 at home
KenPom ranking: 85 (No. 144 in offense efficiency, No. 48 in defense efficiency)
Notes: The Gamecocks are still seeking consecutive wins for the first time this season. This is the latest they’ve gone without back-to-back victories since it took them 11 games to do it in 2013-14. ... Tre Campbell scored 15 points in USC’s loss to Stony Brook on Nov. 9. He has 26 points in Carolina’s other six games. The Georgetown transfer didn’t start against Coastal and only logged six minutes. ... South Carolina’s win over Coastal ran the Gamecocks’ record to 1-3 this season when Silva commits four or more fouls.
This is South Carolina’s farthest trip west since participating in the 2013 Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. It’s the back end of a home-and-home with Wyoming, a series prompted by Martin’s connection to Edwards.
“Allen is like a son to me,” Martin said.
Long before becoming head coach at Wyoming, Edwards played for both Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith at Kentucky.
“When Allen called (to set up the series), he hadn’t coached a game yet,” Martin said. “And he said, ‘Man, it would mean everything to me if I could get an SEC opponent in our building. I said, ‘Why are you calling me? Why don’t you call Pitino or Tubby? You won national championships for them. Why are you calling me?’
“He says, ‘Because they won’t play me.’ And I said, ‘You’re calling me because you know I can’t say no.’”
Wyoming is 33-12 under Edwards at Arena-Auditorium, a venue that sits at 7,200 feet above sea level.
2. Silva rises again?
Did Chris Silva do enough in the second half of the Coastal game to make you think he’s officially shrugged off his slow start to this season?
Carolina’s All-SEC forward got back to what he does best late against the Chanticleers — dunking, blocking and making hustle plays. The senior scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in last year’s win over the Cowboys.
3. Quest for 80
The Gamecocks have scored 80 or more points four times this season. It took them 27 games to do that last season.
Wyoming enters Wednesday second-to-last in the MWC in scoring defense (allowing 79.2 points per game) ninth in field goal percentage defense (46.4).
The more offense the better for USC in this matchup as it’ll have to defend the potent Justin James on the other end.