The South Carolina Gamecocks basketball team is headed into a key week in its season with a number back in front of its name.
South Carolina (14-3, 4-0) returned to being ranked this week, checking in at No. 24 in the AP Poll and the coaches poll.
The Gamecocks were ranked for four weeks earlier this season, first appearing in the polls in Week 4. South Carolina rose as high as No. 16 before falling out of the polls a couple weeks later.
South Carolina faces two of the top teams in the SEC this week. First it hosts Florida on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena before going to Kentucky on Saturday. The Gators and Wildcats are each 5-0 in the conference, with South Carolina checking in as the third unbeaten team in league play.
“I think those are the three best teams, then with Georgia,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said of South Carolina after the Gamecocks beat the Rebels 67-56 on Saturday. “Our league is good at the top.”
South Carolina opened the season 7-0, but went 3-3 in the following six games while senior guard Sindarius Thornwell was suspended for a violation of athletic department policy. Since Thornwell has returned, the Gamecocks are clicking again. They have won four straight games, leading to reappearing in the poll for the first time since Week 7.
Kentucky is ranked No. 5 in the latest AP Poll, while Florida is No. 19. The Gamecocks are the lone other SEC team to appear in the Top 25.
“There is a lot of motivation right now,” Thornwell said Monday. “We understand it is a big week. We have the opportunity ahead of us with playing Florida on Wednesday. We are going to come in today for practice more focused and more prepared than ever.”