ShareThis Page
South Carolina a tougher test for Pitt |

South Carolina a tougher test for Pitt

| Wednesday, December 29, 2004 12:00 a.m

Pitt has its share of soft spots when it comes to the makeup of its non-conference basketball schedule.

The Panthers’ opponent tonight, however, doesn’t resemble a cupcake or a creampuff.

South Carolina should not be confused with the likes of Howard, Loyola, St. Francis, Coppin State, Bucknell and Robert Morris.

Although unranked, the Gamecocks are a worthy adversary for the tenth-ranked Panthers. Fresh off an NCAA Tournament appearance last March, the Gamecocks are 7-2, with their only losses coming in nip-and-tuck affairs at No. 2 Kansas (by four points) and at home against Clemson (by one point, in overtime).

“They are probably the most experienced team we’ll face so far,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said Tuesday. “They obviously are a very good team. They do a good job of changing defenses and they have a lot of guys back from a successful team (last year).”

South Carolina will be a measuring stick for the Panthers, who have crafted a 9-0 record largely by beating up on inferior competition. Pitt has won its nine games by an average of 23.6 points. That represents the third-best scoring margin in the country.

Pitt’s unblemished record and lofty ranking aren’t the only things at stake. So is the school’s impressive non-conference track record. Pitt has won 24 consecutive regular season games against non-conference teams and 47 in a row at home against non-conference opposition.

South Carolina coach Dave Odom is aware the Panthers have never lost a non-conference game in the three-year history of Petersen Events Center and just once overall at their home facility.

“The only way you could not be aware of it is to not watch television and not read Pitt’s media guide or the daily notes or not to talk to anybody like you guys,” Odom said during a conference call with reporters.

Odom laughed, then noted how South Carolina just lost its first non-conference home game at the three-year-old Colonial Center earlier this month. That was the one-point overtime setback to Clemson.

“Pitt is going to lose to somebody sometime,” Odom said. “I’m not going to say it’s going to be to South Carolina, but I’m hoping it is.”

South Carolina returns three of its top five scorers from last year’s 23-11 team, including forward Carlos Powell, who tops the Gamecocks in scoring, rebounding and has recorded three double-doubles this year. Guard Tre’ Kelley and forward Tarence Kinsey also are averaging double figures in scoring.

With so much talent returning, Odom decided to beef up his non-conference schedule. He added home-and-away series with Kansas and Pitt, opting to play road games this season in exchange for home dates in 2005. He also scheduled Temple and Clemson at Colonial Center.

“I thought this year’s team required a different challenge,” Odom said.

The result has been a series of close calls for the Gamecocks. South Carolina’s last five games have been decided by four points or less, including an overtime victory last Wednesday against South Carolina State. Wins against South Florida and East Carolina also occurred in that stretch.

Odom expects Pitt’s inside tandem of Chris Taft and Chevon Troutman to present problems for the Gamecocks, and he said guard Carl Krauser needs to be monitored.

“We don’t match up very well against them,” Odom said, referring to Troutman and Taft. “There aren’t many teams in the country that do.”

Pitt (9-0) vs. South Carolina (7-2)

Time, Place: 7 p.m., Petersen Events Center

TV: Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh

Probable starters


Pos. Name Ht. PPG
F Troutman 6-7 13.8
C Taft 6-10 13.1
G Demetris 6-4 4.0
G Krauser 6-2 16.6
G Graves 6-3 10.1

South Carolina

Pos. Name Ht. PPG
F Powell 6-7 14.6
F Kinsey 6-7 11.7
F Wallace 6-9 6.8
G Kelley 6-0 10.4
G Trice 6-2 5.0

Around the Panthers

  • Guard Antonio Graves could return to the starting lineup for the Panthers after missing the past two games with an ankle injury. Graves participated in the Panthers’ practice Tuesday. So did center Chris Taft , who was bothered by an ankle problem after last week’s win over Richmond. “It seemed like everybody was OK,” coach Jamie Dixon said.

  • South Carolina coach Dave Odom is familiar with dominating big men. At Wake Forest, he coached Tim Duncan . Odom said Taft compares favorably to Duncan at this stage of their respective careers. “There’s no reason to put a ceiling on the guy, but there’s no reason to put unrealistic expectations on him, either,” Odom said. “He can be a lottery player when he chooses to come out (for the draft) – not that I’m suggesting he should come out.”

  • Pitt has held eight of its nine opponents to 60 points or less. The Panthers rank eighth in the nation in scoring defense.

  • South Carolina leads the all-time series 5-0. The teams, however, have not played since 1976.

    Categories: News
  • TribLIVE commenting policy

    You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

    We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

    While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

    We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

    We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

    We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

    We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

    We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.