South Carolina-Mississippi Preview
There's no secret that Stefan Moody will have the ball in his hands since he has mostly been a one-man show for Mississippi – for better or worse.
The SEC's leading scorer could be hard-pressed to help the Rebels continue their home dominance of a balanced 24th-ranked South Carolina team Tuesday night.
Mississippi (12-5, 2-3) is 12-1 all-time at home against South Carolina with four straight wins. The Rebels were 7-0 at home this season before Saturday's 80-71 defeat to Florida.
Moody scored 22 points with one assist and six turnovers. He's still growing as a point guard, transitioning to the position since newcomers Sam Finley and J.T. Escobar fared poorly early in the season.
Moody is averaging 24.3 points – 25.6 in conference play – and coach Andy Kennedy says he's the most complete scorer he has ever had.
“He's the most complete because of his ability to get his own shot,” Kennedy said. “When we had to move him to the point early in the season just out of necessity based on the needs of our teams, it's actually made him a much more difficult cover simply because he has the ball.”
The 5-foot-10 Moody is among the nation's leaders with 8.9 foul shots per game, including 62 in five SEC games despite defenses gearing up to stop him.
“Everyone's tried and it's still 25 points every single night,” Gamecocks coach Frank Martin said. “For a guy his size to shoot the amount of free throws that he shoots it's extremely impressive.”
South Carolina (16-1, 3-1) had some success last season in splitting two games against Mississippi and Moody, who totaled 24 points on 8-of-23 shooting. The Rebels had Jarvis Summers at point guard then.
Moody averages 3.8 turnovers for the nation's highest mark among major college teams. That figure is at 5.2 in SEC play.
His streak of 12 straight 20-point efforts is the longest by a Rebel since Gerald Glass had 13 in a row in 1989-90.
“His ability to make tough shots is second to none,” Martin said. “He's grown tremendously as a point guard from early to the year to now.”
The issue for the Rebels is that only one other player is averaging double digits in points in Sebastian Saiz at 12.8.
South Carolina features much better balance with five players averaging at least 10, led by Sindarius Thornwell's 12.5.
Thornwell turned in a two-point effort in last Wednesday's 73-50 loss at Alabama that ended the Gamecocks' perfect start. He bounced back with 22 points in Saturday's 81-72 home victory over Missouri.
Mindaugas Kacinas added 14 points and PJ Dozier had 11 as South Carolina overcame a season-low 14.3 percent shooting on 3-pointers.
“I'm proud of the guys bouncing back and playing back to our character this past Saturday,” Martin said.
South Carolina ranked third in the SEC in nonconference play at 38.2 percent on 3-pointers before shooting 24.0 percent in conference games to rank last.
The Gamecocks are an SEC-best plus-9.5 in rebound margin.
“(They're) 16-1 playing at a very high level and they present a number of tremendous challenges with the way they approach the game,” Kennedy said.