|SC's Horn on recruiting trail after beating No. 1|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 27 January 2010 17:06|
Hours after South Carolina defeated No. 1 Kentucky, 68-62 on Tuesday night, Horn was off wooing potential prospects armed with perhaps the biggest victory in program history. The Gamecocks had lost their previous seven games against top-ranked teams until beating the Wildcats.
Horn knows how that will play on the road for his second-year program.
``When you walk in the gym and you've got South Carolina across your chest and you've just beaten the number one team in the country, I think it makes a difference,'' Horn said Wednesday.
Horn is glad the school and his players got something to celebrate. He knows, though, the good feelings have to be tempered with hard work and focus.
practices preaching steadiness.
``Trying to control what we can control, do what we can do and not getting too high or too low,'' Horn said.
It was hard for South Carolina players and fans to feel any higher than they did Tuesday night.
Devan Downey scored 30 points to lead the Gamecock upset, then urged fans past the yellow rope barrier held by security guards to storm the court at the end. The move earned South Carolina a $25,000 fine Wednesday from the SEC.
The good feelings continued Wednesday around campus.
``It was actually crazy with the text messages and the phone calls,'' said Downey, groggy and a bit hoarse. ``You go from everybody's kind of down with how the team is doing to you'd think we'd won a national championship.''
Downey, the stellar senior who's averaging better than 31 points in SEC games, knows the undermanned Gamecocks reside somewhere in the middle with about six weeks to go in league play. They now have a shot of confidence, according to Downey, that more success is ahead.
``Everybody wants to talk about how well I played,'' Downey said. ``I don't really think I was the most important player in the game.''
lock on Kentucky star John Wall when the Wildcats were trying for a late charge.
``So many other guys did good things last night,'' Downey said.
Horn was glad to see others fill in around the team's unquestioned star in Downey. Then again, they don't have a choice of South Carolina hopes to keep winning.
The team went 10-6 in the league last season, its best mark since 1997-98, in Horn's debut and figured to make a charge for even more this season. But senior Dominique Archie was lost for the season in November with a knee injury. Forward Mike Holmes hurt his eye horsing-around at home soon after and was subsequently dismissed by Horn for repeated violations of team rules.
That left the Gamecocks without their top two rebounders from a year ago - and with too many questions about how they'd match up with SEC elites.
It looked like South Carolina might enter with an even bleaker outlook after a crushing defeat at Florida last Saturday night. Downey's incredible, go-ahead driving layup with 5 seconds left was trumped by Chandler Parson's game-winning 3-pointer.
But Horn, though, saw a proud bunch at a Sunday night meeting, not ready to throw away the season. ``They had a presence and a look in their eyes,'' said Horn, a Kentucky native who's won three straight against the Wildcats.
For Downey, the goal of the NCAA tournament they brought into the season remains in sight. As he watched the Gators and their fans cheer last weekend, Downey regretted letting a resume-building win slip away.
``Now, we got an even bigger one,'' Downey said with a smile.