COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina basketball’s senior trio of Duane Notice, Sindarius Thornwell and Justin McKie have made a point to each other every time they walk into an opposing arena this season. There’s the reality that each trip will be their final one together to each arena, so they talk about having a mini-farewell tour in their final season as Gamecocks basketball players.
There’s no parting gifts given to the three, of course, so they try to leave each road stop with a win.
“We’ve gotta make sure we come out and play hard,” Notice said. “I think that has contributed to the way we have played.”
So far, it has worked out. The Gamecocks are 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1996-97, when they opened 11-0. But this is the first time South Carolina has won two of its first three away from home.
South Carolina opened league play with a win at Georgia, then came home to beat Texas A&M before going to Tennessee on Wednesday and leaving with a 70-60 win.
The emphasis on winning away from home has been hammered home by South Carolina associate head coach Matt Figger, who said “it’s imperative that we win our road games,” Notice said.
“Obviously, you want to protect the home court,” Notice said. “He said for every away game you lose, you’ve gotta win at least two home games to make up for it. We didn’t take that lightly. We try to make sure every time we play on the road, we play as hard as possible to get the opportunity to win.”
The Gamecocks didn’t find much success on the road last season, going 4-5 away from Colonial Life Arena in SEC play. Those losses, including a bad one at Missouri, surely contributed to being on the wrong side of the bubble when the NCAA tournament teams were announced.
The Gamecocks return home for a 6:30 p.m. ET game Saturday against Ole Miss, seeking a 4-0 start to the season before a key week with games against Florida and Kentucky arrives.
“We take every game one game at a time, but we are confident,” Notice said. “We want to make sure we play every game the right way, so that we can win. I think guys have been doing a great job preparing for the games and the SEC games. Personally, I, Sindarius and Justin have been on the other side of it, coming in 0-3 to SEC play, so we want to change it up a bit.”