After today's game, Akron will have played South Carolina in the last twelve months than they have most of the teams in the MAC.
The Zips and Gamecocks know each other well, after facing off twice last season within four days of each game. South Carolina won both games, the first by ten at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii and the next by 33 in Columbia.
Not much has changed roster-wise for South Carolina since the last time these two teams met. Brenton Williams, who put 24 on the Zips in the second meeting, graduated. But, the bulk of the rest of the team is the same.
Sophomore guard Sindarius Thornwell leads the charge, averaging fourteen points and five rebounds per game. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson is also averaging double-digit points at ten per game. Up front Mindaugas Kacinas leads the way, scoring 7.5 points and grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game.
The Gamecocks are 2-2 this year, with wins over North Florida and Cornell and losses to Baylor and Charlotte. They were picked twelfth out of fourteen in the SEC preseason poll. The SEC is not a basketball powerhouse, so being picked that low is not good. After finishing 14-20 last year, it looks like another down year in Columbia.
Akron should now be at least a little used to playing without Demetrius Treadwell and should have a pretty good gameplan on how to beat South Carolina. The Zips lost the first game last year because of turnovers, coughing the ball up sixteen times to just ten for the Gamecocks. They also shot just 10-19 from the free throw line, but that was a year-long issue and not just an issue that game. Turnovers were again the story in the second game, as Akron lost the turnover battle 21-7.
The Zips will have to cut down on mental mistakes to win this game. The outside shooting needs to be there as well, as does the shooting overall. Akron shot just 33% against Miami, which won't win many games. Luckily, South Carolina doesn't have anyone the caliber of Angel Rodriguez, who almost netted a triple-double against the Zips. Akron should have a good chance of winning this game, but then again they probably should have won at least one of the games against the Gamecocks last year.
Tonight's game will tip-off at 6:30 and will be shown on ESPNU.