South Carolina coach: ‘We didn’t answer the bell’
Who: Arkansas (14-8, 5-4 SEC) at South Carolina (11-11, 6-3 SEC)
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia area
Series: Arkansas leads 20-13
Last meeting: March 8, 2018 — Arkansas 69, South Carolina 64 in SEC Tournament
KenPom prediction: Arkansas 76, South Carolina 75
1. Rebound(s) opportunity
USC’s only loss at home during the SEC season came to No. 1 Tennessee. The Gamecocks are 3-0 otherwise with wins over two ranked opponents.
Off a tough loss at No. 5 Kentucky, USC has a good opportunity to rebound against Arkansas — in more ways than one. The Razorbacks enter on a four-game SEC win streak, but three of those results came against league cellar-dwellers Georgia, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
Also of note: Arkansas is last in the SEC in rebound margin. That’s good news for Carolina, which is minus-32 on the glass its last two games.
2. Containing Gafford
A prominent post player will greet Chris Silva for the third time in four games. After Grant Williams (Tennessee) and Reid Travis (Kentucky) comes Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford.
The 6-foot-11, 233-pound sophomore, like Silva, tested the NBA waters last spring only to return to school. He’s averaging 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds a game and is coming off a 28 and nine performance in the win over Vandy.
“This guy runs all the time,” USC coach Frank Martin said Thursday night on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network. “Our big guys are gonna be challenged to change ends of the floor because Daniel Gafford never takes a play off, doesn’t jog.”
Gafford totaled 15 points and 14 rebounds in two games against Carolina last season.
3. Staying afloat
The back-half of South Carolina’s SEC schedule has arrived and the Gamecocks can’t afford much slippage to stay in a good spot in the league standings.
Arkansas is one of four teams within a game of USC for fourth place — and one of six within two games. There’s little margin error to earn that all important top-four seed and receive a double-bye in the SEC Tournament.
Holding serve at home is critical.
Coach: Mike Anderson (365-191 in 17 seasons overall; eighth season at Arkansas — 165-94)
Projected starters: G Isaiah Joe (14.2 points per game), G Jalen Harris (8.5), G Mason Jones (13.7), F Daniel Gafford (16.8), F Adrio Bailey (6.2)
Last game: Beat Vanderbilt 69-66 on Tuesday at home
KenPom ranking: 53 (No. 87 in offense efficiency, No. 45 in defense efficiency)
Notes: Jerry Palm of CBS Sports lists Arkansas among the “first four out” of his latest NCAA Tournament projection. ... The Razorbacks blocked a school-record 14 shots in a win over Georgia on Jan. 29. ... Arkansas is 38-20 in February under Anderson.
Coach: Frank Martin (241-155 in 12 seasons overall; seventh season at USC — 124-101)
Projected starters: G Tre Campbell (6.4), G A.J. Lawson (13.2), F Keyshawn Bryant (9.0), F Chris Silva (13.6), F Maik Kotsar (8.1)
Last game: Lost to Kentucky 76-48 on Tuesday in Lexington
KenPom ranking: 103 (No. 107 in offense efficiency, No. 118 in defense efficiency)
Notes: The Gamecocks have lost five of six to the Razorbacks The lone win in that stretch came during the 2015-16 season. ... Since scoring 25 points against Mississippi State, Kotsar has totaled 48 points over the last eight games. ... Campbell has made three 3-pointers in three straight games, the best stretch of the senior’s career.