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GAMETHREAD: Basketball at South Carolina, 5:30pm, SEC Network

Tigers wrap up the road schedule with thin Tournament hopes

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU Tigers will attempt to end their six game losing streak on the road this afternoon as they travel to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks. After dropping the ball against Georgia last weekend, the Tigers hold a 16-12 (7-9) record while the Gamecocks spent their weekend losing an overtime battle against Mississippi state to fall to 15-14 (6-10).

“The scary part is that South Carolina has beaten Georgia twice. South Carolina has pretty much done the same thing to Georgia that Georgia did to us,” said Coach Wade Monday afternoon. “They are tough, they are physical. Their big (Chris) Silva is tremendous. Their guards, Hassani Gravett and (Frank) Booker is making threes. He is a grad transfer. They do a great job and it will be a big challenge as we move forward to Wednesday.”

The Gamecocks enter this afternoon’s contest with a conference-worst offensive efficiency and effective FG%, according to KenPom. They’ve only scored 80 points against an opponent once in their 16 SEC games, which just so happened to be a win over first place Auburn. While their record isn’t anything to write home about, they’ve been playing some really good basketball lately against really good teams.

After starting 1-3 in conference, the Gamecocks won three of their next four games, including big wins over the likes of Kentucky and Florida. They then went on a six game losing streak, starting with a loss to Texas Tech. In their last four contests, South Carolina took down Auburn and Georgia, and lost to Tennessee and Mississippi State (both on the road) by a combined seven points. They may be 12th in the current SEC standings, but this by no means will be an easy road finale.

The key factor for South Carolina is the aforementioned Chris Silva. The junior power forward from Gabon is currently regarded as the third best player in the SEC by KenPom, and leads the SEC in offensive rebounding percentage. He does have a tendency to flirt with foul trouble, though, as he’s reached four personal fouls in five straight games now. The Tigers will have to try and exploit his aggressiveness if they don’t want to get out-rebounded by 20 again.

Projected South Carolina Gamecocks Starting 5

#30 PF - Chris Silva: 14.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 25.0 minutes

#10 SF - Justin Minaya: 7.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 27.0 minutes

#21 C - Maik Kotsar: 7.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 26.3 minutes

#5 SG/SF - Frank Booker: 11.5 PPG, 1.1 APG, 26.0 minutes

#2 PG - Hassani Gravett: 7.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, 25.7 minutes

Tonight’s contest will tip off at 5:30pm (central) and will be televised on the SEC Network. You can listen in on the radio at 98.1 FM, or follow along in the comments below or via my live (delayed) tweets @marq113.