Gamecocks, Trojans meet in battle of slumping USCs

South Carolina and Southern Cal squared off in federal appeals court last year over the right to use the initials “USC”, with a judge ruling only the Trojans, not the Gamecocks, can sport the acronym on their uniforms.

Tonight the two teams meet on the basketball court in the consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational, and the loser will have to return home to harsh criticism from a jury of their fans.

South Carolina’s fan base is already grumbling after early losses to Elon and Tennessee State. USC is struggling to finish games – the Trojans (2-4) have held second-half leads in each of their four defeats this season.

A technical foul on Dewayne Dedmon swung momentum for good in USC’s 66-55 loss to UNLV in the Las Vegas Invitational semifinals. Dedmon committed an offensive foul, then received a technical for his fifth infraction of the game.

UNLV, which was trailing by two at the time, went on an 8-0 run and never trailed again. Rebounding is a huge point of emphasis for USC, which has been beaten on the boards in five straight games and posted a 1-4 record over that span.

Dating back to the Gamecocks’ 2-11 stumble to the finish line last season, South Carolina (2-3) has won only four of its past 16 games. There is already some talk about the job security of fourth-year coach Darrin Horn, even though injuries have South Carolina down to nine healthy players.

Expect the Gamecocks’ staff to emphasize ball security heading into this one – South Carolina made 25 turnovers in an 87-62 loss to North Carolina in the Las Vegas semifinals, and committed five miscues before scoring its first basket.

R.J. Slawson was a bright spot for South Carolina in a lopsided loss to the top-ranked Tar Heels. Slawson scored 13 points and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds.

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