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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball NCAA Tournament Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks

Let’s learn a thing or two about the school that’s squaring off against the Golden Eagles on Friday night.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Florida
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Name: University of South Carolina

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

I’m bad at geography: Good lord, man. It’s 1) the capitol of the state and 2) pretty much dead center in the middle of South Carolina.

Established: 1801

Enrollment: 33,575

Nickname: Gamecocks

Why “Gamecocks?” It’s not entirely clear. USC has this page on their website that doesn’t make it obvious, but makes reference to Thomas Sumter, a Revolutionary War icon. South Carolina’s athletics Wikipedia page specifically attributes the nickname to Sumter, who was a brigadier general in the South Carolina militia during the Revolutionary War. After engaging Sumter in combat during the war, British General Banastre Tarleton said Sumter “fought like a gamecock,” thus giving him the nickname “The Carolina Gamecock.”

What’s up with South Carolina’s mascot? They have a costumed mascot named Cocky, but there’s also a live rooster (pictured above) named Sir Big Spur. It’s not entirely clear, but it seems that the live rooster is named for a previous costumed mascot that preceded Cocky for a couple of years.

A tumultuous history: As you might expect, things got a little shaky for South Carolina during and following the Civil War. The school, named South Carolina College at the time, closed in 1861 due to a lack of students, but re-opened in 1866 with a forward looking mission. They added African-Americans to the board of trustees in 1868 and admitted African-American students in 1873.

Unfortunately, the state’s financial situation was unable to support the school, and by 1877, the doors closed once again. The state restarted the school in 1880, but this time with an agricultural focus and an all-white student body. It was finally rechartered as a university in 1906.

Unique University Transit: If you’re a Marquette student, you’re familiar with the LIMO program. USC has a campus transit system called “Carolina Shuttle” which runs on regular routes instead of door to door service like the LIMOs. The university also has a partnership with Checker Yellow Cab in Columbia called “Carolina Cabs” that provides students free transportation from the Five Points entertainment district (approximately a mile away from campus) to anywhere within five miles of campus.

Notable Alumni: actor Mike Colter (aka Luke Cage); former WWE ring announcer Lillian Garcia; former Entertainment Tonight host Leeza Gibbons; all four members of Hootie And The Blowfish; former Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis; former NBA player and head coach & current Tulane head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr.; NBA Hall of Famer Alex English; current Michigan State head football coach Mark D’Antonio; United States Men’s National Soccer Team goalkeeper Brad Guzan; Hootie Johnson, former chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club; Larry Kellner, Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines; Bob McNair, owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans; FBI agent Melvin Purvis, who led the manhunts to capture Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and John Dillinger; and United States Senator Lindsey Graham.

This Season: 22-10, with a 12-6 record in the SEC.

KenPom Ranking: #32

Stat Leaders

Points: Sindarius Thornwell, 21.0 ppg
Rebounds: Sindarius Thornwell, 7.2 rpg
Assists: P.J. Dozier, 2.9 apg

Head Coach: Frank Martin, in his fifth season at South Carolina and 10th season overall. He has a record of 92-73 with the Gamecocks and a 209-125 record overall.

All Time Series: Marquette has a 12-4 advantage all time against South Carolina. The most recent meeting was in 2005, with MU winning 92-89 in overtime in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Golden Eagles missed three shots in the final 30 seconds of regulation after Ousmane Barro fouled Tarence Kinsey when he made a three-pointer and drained the freebie to tie the game. In the extra session, Ryan Amoroso scored nine of his game high 30 points, including the last five points of the game all in the final 30 seconds to give Marquette the victory. The Golden Eagles have won eight of the last 10 meetings between the two teams.