Andy Kennedy has seen Bartow Arena hopping. He's seen it as a UAB player. He's seen it as a UAB assistant coach. He knows what it feels like and the advantage that it gives the home team.

Wednesday night, with SEC member South Carolina on the visiting bench, he wants to witness the same thing as a UAB head coach.

"It can be a true homecourt advantage," Kennedy said. "I know this, I've been doing this a long time, this is my 16th year as a head coach, and in order to do anything of significance in postseason basketball, you've got to be able to protect your home floor. We've done a pretty good job of that, and we appreciate the fans who come here and give us the proper energy. It will be a huge opportunity for us, and I hope our fans come out and support us, as well."

Time could tell a different tale, but South Carolina is probably not an upper tier team this season. The Gamecocks are 5-4 overall with losses to Colorado State, Davidson and Furman on a neutral floor, and George Washington in a true road game.

But the Gamecocks are an SEC team with SEC talent, which is a challenge. UAB, which beat Georgia earlier this season, has not beaten two SEC teams in a season since knocking off Arkansas and Georgia in 2009-10.

"They're an SEC team. They've got tremendous players," Kennedy said.

GG Jackson II, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound true freshman, is one of the best players that UAB will face this season. Jackson, who turns 18 on Saturday, was originally a North Carolina commit but chose to stay home and play for South Carolina instead. He's the team leader in points (17) and rebounds (7.5) per game.

"He's a potential lottery pick," Kennedy said. "He's 6-foot-9, he can play either of the forward positions. From a matchup standpoint, he's going to be problematic for us because of his size and ability to stretch out on the perimeter."

The Gamecocks have a pair of veterans, both of whom started their college careers elsewhere, who also contribute double-digit points per game. Senior Chico Carter, who transferred from Murray State before last season, averages 12.7 points per game and has a team-high 18 3-pointers in seven games. Graduate student Hayden Brown, a transfer from The Citadel, averages 11.1 points and six rebounds per game.

UAB leading scorer Jordan ‘Jelly' Walker, who leads the country with 24.9  points per game, is looking forward to the challenge.

"It feels great. This is what you come here for," Walker said. "A lot of mid-major schools, they don't really get the opportunity to play the bigger schools. Even if they do, it's just because they are playing them for a money game. For us, we're playing them because we believe we can win. That West Virginia game, I'll put that on me 100 percent. We got to bounce back."

One of the bigger keys is taking care of the basketball, which was the biggest problem in an 81-70 loss at West Virginia on Saturday.

"We turned the ball over 19 times against West Virginia, 22 times against Toledo," said Kennedy, whose team is 7-2. "Ironically, those are our two losses. In all of our wins, we are averaging less than 11 turnovers per game. A lot of it is based on who you're playing, how you're playing, where you're playing. Some of it is just being locked in, being focused, being edged up."

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