USC Opens Conference Play Tonight In Gainesville

7:24 AM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
Frank Martin (Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports)
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Columbia, SC (AP) - South Carolina coach Frank Martin likes the spirit he's seen during the Gamecocks' four-game win streak and hopes the players can keep that going when they open Southeastern Conference play at No. 10 Florida on Wednesday night.

South Carolina started 2-5, including consecutive home losses to Manhattan and USC Upstate that raised questions about the program.

The Gamecocks' recent opponents have not been the level of competition they'll face in the SEC, but South Carolina (7-6) has won five of its past six games and opens league play with a growing sense of confidence.

Martin says practices have picked up and his young team believes the work they've put in is paying off. They will find out how much against the Gators (11-2), who have won four straight over the Gamecocks.

Martin understood this season would have a few bumps, particularly with eight newcomers - including seven freshmen - on his roster. Things looked ready to implode last month with the consecutive home losses when the Gamecocks found some stability about 4,600 miles away from campus at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii during Christmas week. South Carolina defeated St. Mary's and Akron to finish third and brought that momentum back to the mainland with three straight wins to close out nonconference play.

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