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South Carolina’s skid is conjuring bad memories of last year’s late collapse



One year after a staggering late-season collapse cost South Carolina the chance to go to the NCAA tournament, the Gamecocks are again beginning to teeter as March approaches.

They fell 81-66 at 13th-ranked Florida on Tuesday night, their fourth loss in their past five games.

There’s no shame in losing in Gainesville against the surging Gators, but South Carolina’s other three recent losses are much less flattering. The Gamecocks dropped games against bubble team Arkansas and fringe NCAA tournament contenders Vanderbilt and Alabama, two out of three of which came at home.

Now 20-8 overall and 10-5 in the SEC, South Carolina has done considerable damage to its NCAA tournament seeding. The Gamecocks project as a No. 7-9 seed at this point, but they’re at risk of plunging toward the bubble if they can’t emerge from this February slide soon.

This rash of late-season losses surely conjures bad memories for South Carolina fans still scarred by missing the NCAA tournament last season. A 21-3 start turned sour in a hurry as the Gamecocks dropped four of their final seven regular season games, fell in the first round of the SEC tournament and then did not have their names called on Selection Sunday.

What’s different this season is that South Carolina has a couple more quality wins to fall back on. Whereas last year’s Gamecocks beat just one opponent in the RPI top 50 and eight in the top 100 all season, this year’s team already boasts 11 top 100 wins including victories over SEC contender Florida and bubble teams Michigan, Syracuse and Tennessee.

When South Carolina was beating NCAA tournament-caliber opponents earlier this season, the formula was elite defense and just enough offense. Frank Martin’s Gamecocks made life miserable for opposing offenses with their aggressive, disruptive defense that forced turnovers and ran shooters off the 3-point line yet boasted enough size and length in the paint not to give up easy baskets at the rim.

In South Carolina’s last five games, however, one of the nation’s premier defenses has experienced significant slippage. The Gamecocks were ordinary against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and downright bad against Arkansas and Florida, surrendering 1.2 points per possession to the Razorbacks and 1.14 to the Gators.

South Carolina is still forcing turnovers at an impressive rate, but that’s about all the Gamecocks are doing well. The threes that weren’t falling for foes earlier in the season are finding the bottom of the net now and opposing teams are also generating better looks around the rim too.

Florida pulled away after halftime on Tuesday night by lighting up South Carolina for 46 second-half points. Kevaughn Allen scored 26 points and the Gators’ sank 6 of 9 second-half 3-pointers to stay tied with Kentucky for first place in the SEC, three games ahead of the fading Gamecocks.

The remaining regular season schedule for South Carolina isn’t all that daunting as the Gamecocks host Tennessee and Mississippi State before finishing on the road at Ole Miss. Two wins in those three games would erase any shred of doubt regarding South Carolina’s worthiness of an NCAA bid even before the start of the SEC tournament.

But while South Carolina has a chance against those middling league foes with an average defense, it won’t last long in the NCAA tournament if it doesn’t start generating stops at an elite level again.


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Injured Aminu Out For 2-3 Weeks



D’Tigers guard, Al-Farouq Aminu, has been ruled out for two to three weeks after he sprained his right ankle, reports.

Aminu who missed the Portland Trail Blazers’ 113-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Friday morning has suited eight times this season in the NBA.

The 27 year old was on crutches before the Portland Trail Blazers’ win over the Los Angeles Lakers game at the Moda center.

In his place, Noah Vonleh was listed as the starter for the game which was the Portland Trail Blazers’ fifth win in nine games.

Despite his injury setback, Aminu took to Twitter to applaud every fan who wished him well.

“Great win and thank you to everyone that has been wishing me well,” he tweeted.

So far this season Aminu has recorded 75 points, 65 rebound and 14 assists and six steals in 242 minutes for the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Oladipo Named NBA Eastern Conference Player Of The Week



Indiana Pacers Nigerian forward, Victor Oladipo, has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week in the NBA, reports.

The former Oklahoma City Thunders guard and former Indiana University All-American, Oladipo led the Pacers to a 101-83 rout of the Sacramento Kings Wednesday morning – their fourth win of the NBA season.

Oladipo becomes the 12th player in franchise history to earn Player of the Week honor. He added 14 points and four rebounds in the encounter.

So far this season, Oladipo has led the Pacers in scoring in each of their first seven games this season. He currently ranks eighth in the NBA with a scoring average of 28.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists over the last three games.

New Orleans’ Pelican star DeMarcus Cousins, was also named Western Conference Player of the Week.

The 25-year-old Oladipo praised his compatriot Ike Anigbogu, the youngest player in the NBA for scoring his first career points in the NBA after five games.

19-year-old Anigbogu who was the Pacers second-round pick scored four points in the five minutes he played.

Anigbogu scored his first points of his professional career on a pair of free throws. He later knocked down a jumper, then sent the Pacers’ veterans on the bench into hysterics with an emphatic block of Kings guard Frank Mason in the closing seconds.

“I’m proud of him (Anigbogu),” Oladipo told the Pacers official website.

“A lot of guys do a lot of the cheering. (The starters) got to do the cheering today. It’s an awesome feeling.

The Pacers travel to Cleveland for a clash against the LeBron James led Cavaliers on Thursday morning.

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Occansey excited about giving Cote d’Ivoire supporters the opportunity to watch national team at home



ABIDJAN (FIBA Basketball World Qualifiers) – Cote d’Ivoire head coach Hugues Occansey feels his team will do everything in its power to reach the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers.

If they do, their supporters will have a chance of watching their heroes play home (and away) games in a battle for one of the five spots for African countries for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.

Occansey, who played for France’s national team in the 1980s and 1990s before turning his hand to coaching, looks forward to the challenge Cote d’Ivoire are set to embark on.

« We are happy to be one of the 16 African nations to compete in the World Cup Qualifiers. This is a good opportunity for us to get closer to our fans throughout Qualifiers and I really want to congratulate FIBA for this great initiative. »

It’s been over four years since Cote d’Ivoire last played a major tournament on home soil, as the country staged FIBA AfroBasket back in 2013. Occansey would like nothing better than to give local supporters an opportunity to relive a magical atmosphere like the one displayed on that occasion.

As hosts of FIBA Africa’s premier competition, Ivorian fans not only sold out the Palais des Sports de Treichville each time the « Elephants » stepped out onto the court but they also celebrated the game of basketball with choreographed dances, traditional chants and an impressive spirit of fair play after Cote d’Ivoire fell short to Angola in the Semi-Finals.

s part of FIBA’s new calendar and over a four-year cycle from 2017 through 2021, national teams will play regular official games to qualify for the China 2019 and the FIBA Continental Cups 2021 starting in November.

It is not lost on Occansey what it would mean for Cote d’Ivoire to reach the second round of Qualifiers for China 2019.

« It would be great to play official games at home. For us as coaches, every (Qualifiers) window is an opportunity to give our talented players based around the world the chance to represent the national team. That was not possible under the previous system. »

In order to advance to the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers, Cote d’Ivoire would need to finish in the top-three of Group D, which includes Senegal, Mozambique and the Central African Republic.

While Cote d’Ivoire did hosted the second round of FIBA Africa Zone 3 Qualifiers for the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 against Benin and Burkina Faso, there is nothing like the prospect of taking on the continent’s powerhouses in Abidjan.

The « Elephants » last played at the FIBA Basketball World Cup seven years ago in Turkey, where they defeated Puerto Rico to return home with a 1-4 record.

Source: Fiba basketball

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