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February 14, 2009

Hoops Extra: Did Holmes goaltend?

GamecockCentral.com traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to cover the South Carolina-Alabama men's basketball game.


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The complaint was sounded almost simultaneously with the final horn.

Did Mike Holmes goaltend on the game-winning shot?

"I didn't think it was goaltending," Holmes said after South Carolina's 75-73 win at Alabama on Saturday. "I thought I got it clean."

After Dominique Archie's putback rolled around the rim and out, Holmes' tip-in won the game. The question was whether or not he touched the ball before it cleared the cylinder.

Officials replayed the final shot, but to see if Holmes beat the buzzer cleanly. If it was goaltending, it couldn't be called under replay rules anyway. The only reason the replay came into question was to see if the ball dropped before the glass turned red.

"We knew it was before the buzzer," USC coach Darrin Horn said. "The other part of it's not my position."

"What you hope for is that you've made a play or two before that so the game doesn't come down to something like that," Alabama interim coach Philip Pearson said.

THIRD WHEEL: Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick get a lot of publicity for being one of the SEC's top backcourts.

Brandis Raley-Ross isn't bad, either.

Raley-Ross scored 13 points against the Crimson Tide, sinking two 3-pointers and going strong to the hoop during the second-half run. His 3s were two of only five the Gamecocks hit all afternoon.

"I've been telling Brandis for about two weeks that he was due to bust out," Horn said. "He's spent a lot of extra time in the gym. He's contributed in a good way defensively, rebounding and just doing little things. I think it was just a matter of time before he did that."

Raley-Ross had a chance to hit the game-winner but his 3-pointer glanced off the side of the rim. That was before the Tide's JaMychal Green missed a spinner.

"Even the one that he took late that didn't look very good, I thought was a great time because he had the courage to step in and take it," Horn said. "A lot of guys don't even want to take that shot as the game gets in those last few minutes. That's a good sign that he played with a lot of confidence tonight."

WHAT'S WRONG?: Raley-Ross was the hero of the 3-point game. USC was 5-for-21 (23.8 percent) all day.

It was the second-worst percentage this season for the Gamecocks. They shot 23.5 percent in a 68-56 win over Auburn on Jan. 10.

The Gamecocks missed five more 3-pointers than the Crimson Tide attempted (11).

THE YIPS: Downey again led the Gamecocks with 18 points, although he was 6-of-20 from the field. Those penetrating finger-rolls that he's become known for just weren't bottoming at Alabama.

"Shots just weren't falling," he said. "But the other guys are looking for me to be aggressive. I've just got to continue to be aggressive."

Downey also spoke to the team at halftime, with the Gamecocks trailing 41-31.

"When you're down 10 on the road, the last thing you want to do is try to frustrate a teammate by trying to get in his face," he said. "I just said, 'We've got to win this basketball game.'

"Team kept on telling me down the stretch, 'We need you man, we need you.'"

IMPROVING: The win boosted USC's SEC road record to 2-3 and overall road record to 4-4. The Gamecocks play at Mississippi State on Wednesday, at Vanderbilt on Feb. 28 and at Georgia on March 7, before going to the SEC tournament.

CLOSER AND CLOSER: The last three games between Alabama and USC have been decided by a combined seven points. Saturday was USC's first win in Coleman Coliseum since Jan. 22, 1997.

HELPING OUT: Previously winless Georgia shocked Florida on Saturday and dropped a game behind USC, Tennessee and Kentucky in the SEC East. Vanderbilt, beaten by Tennessee, fell to 4-6.

The Volunteers travel to Ole Miss on Wednesday while Kentucky is at Vanderbilt on Tuesday.



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