Sunday , Mar , 12 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Gators and Gamecocks clash in SEC title bout

(Sports Network) – The 16th-ranked Florida Gators shoot for their second
straight SEC Tournament title when they take on the South Carolina
Gamecocks from the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville. Florida
entered the tourney as the East Division’s second seed thanks to a 10-6
finish in league play during the regular season. The Gators opened the event
with a 74-71 win over Arkansas in the quarterfinals before upsetting regular-
season champions LSU, 81-65, in the semifinals on Saturday. With the wins,
Florida improved to 27-39 all-time in the SEC Tournament and advanced to its
third straight championship game. The Gators were defeated by Kentucky in the
2004 finals, while posting their lone title last season against the very
same Wildcats.

South Carolina limped into the postseason with a 6-10 league record and earned
just the fifth seed out of the East Division. The team, however, regrouped
in a big way, posting wins over Mississippi State (59-44), 14th-ranked
Tennessee (79-71) and Kentucky (65-61) to earns its way into today’s title
tilt. The Gamecocks, who are now 15-14 all-time in this event, are the only
current member of the league not to have won the SEC Tournament. The team
has made just one other appearance in the finals, losing to Kentucky in
1998. With regard to the all-time series between these two schools, Florida
owns a 29-19 advantage. The Gamecocks, however, won both meetings against
Florida in the regular season, winning by a combined 10 points.

The Gamecocks have done a solid job at the defensive end of the court this
season, holding their opponents to 63.1 ppg and 43.1 percent shooting from the
floor. At the other end, USC is turning in 67.7 ppg behind 46.2 percent
shooting. Tarence Kinsey currently leads the team in scoring at 15.4 ppg and
he is collecting 4.6 rpg as well. Kinsey is also a threat from long range,
hitting 39.7 percent of his three-point attempts. Tre’ Kelley chips in 12.0
ppg for South Carolina and has been responsible for getting Kinsey the ball
with a team-best 4.4 apg to his credit.

On Saturday, Kinsey tallied 18 points and dished out three assists in leading
the Gamecocks to a four-point win over Kentucky. Kelley added 13 points and
four assists for USC, which shot 47.2 percent from the floor in the game. The
team also knocked down 10-of-24 three-point tries, while committing a mere
seven turnovers.

Florida possesses one of the most potent attacks in not only the SEC, but the
nation as well, averaging a robust 80.2 ppg behind 50.9 percent shooting from
the field and 39.2 percent from the long distance. All five regular starters
are currently averaging double-digit points, and the team as a whole takes
full advantage of more than 17 apg. Joakim Noah heads the club in scoring with
14.0 ppg and he is grabbing 6.7 rpg. He is shooting an unconscious 64.5
percent from the field. Taurean Green adds 13.9 ppg and a team-best 4.9 apg
for Florida, and he is also making good on 41.0 percent of his three-point
tries. Corey Brewer has done a little of everything this season and is
contributing 12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 4.2 apg. Al Horford puts forth 11.4 ppg and
a team-high 7.3 rpg, while Lee Humphrey rounds out the group with 10.8 ppg on
the strength of 45.9 percent shooting from three-point land.

In the semifinals on Saturday, Green posted 18 points and six steals in
guiding Florida to a 16-point win over LSU. Noah notched a double-double
with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Brewer also tallied 15 points. The
Gators knocked down 54.4 percent of their field goal attempts and
converted 18 LSU miscues into 23 points.