Indiana State (16-12) at Missouri State (16-13) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The Missouri State Bears can take a big step forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Wednesday in hopes of retaining their third-place standing at home versus Indiana State.
Missouri State stepped out of conference play this past weekend and fell at home to Old Dominion, 73-67. The Bears played well, but in the end were done in by ODU's three-point shooting (12-for-22). MSU shot 45.5 percent from the field and placed four players in double figures led by Kyle Weems' 15 points. Anthony Downing and Jarmar Gulley scored 13 points apiece while Keith Pickens added 11 points. The Bears' loss was their second in a row following a three- game win streak. MSU stands at 9-7 in the MVC with five other teams within striking distance of third place with two games left in the regular season.
Indiana State took to the road for a non-conference battle with Butler Saturday but were sent packing via a thorough 75-54 defeat. The Sycamores hit just 33.3 percent of their field goals, were outrebounded 43-28 and saw the Bulldogs post an 11-1 advantage in second-chance points. Sophomore R.J. Mahurin had a career-best 22 points and knocked down four three-pointers while Dwayne Lathan campping to 2-10 in league play.
Vanderbilt won in Columbia, 67-57, January 10 to take a 25-24 lead in the all- time series with USC. The Commodores own a 13-10 edge in games staged in Nashville and took last year's meeting at Memorial Gym by way of a 78-60 decision.
The Gamecocks struggle on offense and sit second from the bottom in the SEC at 62.0 ppg on just 41.0 percent shooting. The defense allows it to be somewhat competitive in holding opposing teams to 64.8 ppg -- but strangely on a league-worst 44.7 percent shooting from the field. The Gamecocks don't do themselves any favors in the rebounding department either, securing a conference-low 31.3 per game. Despite having a favorable rebounding defense at 32.8 per contest, USC's margin stands second from the bottom in the SEC. Cooke's 12.3-point average paces the offense and his 4.7 rpg are third on the club behind Harris (5.4 rpg) and Anthony Gill (4.8 rpg). Bruce Ellington slots in second on the team with his 10.2 ppg followed by Gill (8.0 ppg), Harris (7.0 ppg) and Damien Leonard (6.5 ppg), who is also USC's top three-point threat with 43 on 32.6 percent shooting.
The Commodores have the SEC's leading scorer in Jenkins, who stands at 20.1 points per game on a solid 49.3 percent shooting. Meanwhile, Taylor, despite his struggles versus Georgia, serves as an excellent option for Vandy and ranks second in the SEC with his 17.8-point average. It's no surprise then that the Commodores own one of the league's best scoring offenses at 74.4 ppg -- third to only SEC stalwarts Kentucky and Florida. Taylor drops in 53.4 percent of his shots to rank alongside the league leaders while Vandy as a whole shoots 46.8 percent from the field -- good for second in the conference. Providing some depth behind the Commodores unmatched 1-2 punch is Festus Ezeli (9.8 ppg), Brad Tinsley (9.0 ppg) and Lance Goulbourne (8.7 ppg). Goulbourne also tops the roster in rebounding at 6.9 per game while Taylor grabs 5.9 per contest and Ezeli 5.4 rpg. Tinsley sits among the league leaders with 4.4 assists per game. Vanderbilt holds down a decent plus-1.7 margin on the glass (35.0-33.3) as a result. The defense does enough on most nights, allowing 66.1 ppg on 42.0 percent shooting.
Vanderbilt can't afford a letdown against South Carolina with games against both Kentucky and Florida coming up. The duo of Jenkins and Taylor would be tough for any team to handle, and the Gamecocks simply just don't have enough to answer with.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri State Bears can take a big step forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Wednesday in hopes of retaining their third-place standing at home versus Indiana State.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: JQH Arena (11,000) -- Springfield, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: Indiana State 11-2, Missouri State 8-6. Away Record: Indiana State 3-9, Missouri State 8-5. Neutral Record: Indiana State 2-1, Missouri State 0-2. Conference Record: Indiana State 7-9, Missouri State 9-7. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 37-20.Game Date and Time
Wednesday, February 22nd, 8:05 p.m. (et)Predicted Outcome
Vanderbilt 71, South Carolina 62