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January 14, 2009

USC-LSU Hoops Extra

LSU seems to have figured out what so many other teams and players haven't - how to stop Devan Downey.

Downey tied for South Carolina's scoring lead (18 points) during Wednesday's 85-68 loss at LSU but was 7-of-19 from the field doing it. He also had a career-high eight turnovers, part of 18 committed by the Gamecocks (12-3, 1-1 SEC).

It continued a sour stretch for the redshirt junior point guard against the Tigers. Last year, in a 62-55 win in Columbia, LSU held Downey to six points on 2-of-9 shooting. In a 77-73 win over the Tigers in the SEC tournament, Downey had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

In those two games combined, Downey had three turnovers. On Wednesday, he had his pocket picked or threw the ball away eight times, also getting a few of his shots blocked.

TEMPER, TEMPER: Mike Holmes' short fuse was on display again.

Holmes got tangled up with Tasmin Mitchell and drew his fist back late in the second half, but never threw a punch. Officials watched on replay to see if any technical fouls were merited, but Holmes finished the game without one, although he fouled out.

Holmes didn't start in USC's last game against Auburn because coach Darrin Horn said he needed to improve on his focus. His first half against LSU backtracked him - Holmes had no points, one rebound and two fouls at the break.

He ended with four points and four boards in 18 minutes.

SLIPPERY: The Gamecocks had 18 turnovers but did not tie the season-high (19) set in a loss to College of Charleston. Still, in the last two games, USC has 36 turnovers.

The Gamecocks have forced 41.

GOOD AND BAD: Dominique Archie scored 17 points and returned from a scary-sounding right ankle injury in the second half. He still might be thinking about this game for a while - he was somehow rung up for four goaltending calls.

Archie scored the Gamecocks' first five points and avoided foul trouble for the second straight game, after two consecutive games (Clemson and Baylor) where he fouled out. He had to go to the locker room when he went down, but returned shortly.

BIG SAM: Sam Muldrow seemed to be improving, playing his second game after sitting out for the Gamecocks' first 13. A 3.1-point career scorer, Muldrow got his first bucket of the year on a putback and ended with two points, two rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 15 minutes.

He followed his first points with another block on the next possession. The night ended gloomily - Muldrow joined Holmes on the bench late in the game after fouling out.

STILL ON TOP?: The Gamecocks ended 6-of-14 from the 3-point stripe, which should keep them on top of the SEC for at least another few days. USC came into the game hitting 39.2 percent of its 3s.

LSU was second at 38.8 percent. The Tigers made 2-of-7 on Wednesday.



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