Zach McKinley / The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks to host Arkansas in heated SEC matchup

South Carolina is set to take on Arkansas in the first of two meetings this season.

The South Carolina men's basketball team (11-11, 6-3 SEC) has had an up-and-down year, having lost three of their last four games. However the team has managed to maintain a respectable conference record considering, and is the fourth-ranked team in the SEC. South Carolina has beaten ranked teams such as Auburn and Mississippi State, but has also lost to Wofford and Stony Brook at home.

This game could have implications for the SEC race given that the Gamecocks and Razorbacks are only one game apart in the conference standings.

The Arkansas Razorbacks (14-8, 5-4 SEC) are tied for fifth in SEC standings, riding on a three game win streak, and will look to use that momentum to upset the Gamecocks.

Arkansas was able to dish out a conference loss to LSU, which was the the Tigers' first SEC loss. In comparison, South Carolina lost to LSU by 22 points, one of the three conference losses for the Gamecocks this season.

In the Gamecocks' latest loss to the Kentucky Wildcats, they were not as physical under the basket, and were only able to get 27 rebounds compared to Kentucky's 50 rebounds. Physicality is one part of the game that South Carolina head coach Frank Martin sees as an area of improvement going forward

“Physicality is involved in all aspects of the game.” Martin said. “Once a physical team smells that the other team don’t like it, they just keep coming at you.” 

Arkansas will look to utilize sophomore forward Daniel Gafford, a physical floor spacer and rim attacker, to set the pace of the game. Gafford leads the Razorbacks in scoring this season, averaging 16.8 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game without attempting a single three-pointer all season. 

The Gamecocks will likely try to keep the ball away from Gafford and limit his attempts in transition, as well as capitalize on the defensive abilities of Chris Silva. If Silva is able to protect the rim, it is paramount that he stays out of the foul trouble that he has seen recent games. 

The first of two match-ups between the Gamecocks and Razorbacks is set to tip-off at 3:30 p.m. in Colonial Life Arena on Saturday. The game can also be seen on SEC Network. 

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