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March 17, 2009

USC-Davidson Hoops Extra

Zam Fredrick and Branden Conrad ended their careers on Tuesday, falling with the rest of the Gamecocks in a 70-63 loss to Davidson in the first round of the NIT.

"There are a lot of positives to take from this year, and these two guys here have been phenomenal," coach Darrin Horn said, pointing to the two seniors who shared the post-game dais. "They have meant so much to our program. They helped us lay a foundation that we feel like we can really build on."

Conrad scored his first points since being injured on Dec. 18, finishing with two. He had a minute in the home regular-season finale and played 16 minutes in the SEC tournament but didn't score.

Fredrick finished with 10 points, part of 954 in his two-year Gamecock career. He fouled out with two rebounds, six turnovers, an assist and a steal.

The two each came in during the heralded recruiting class of two years ago, being counted with Mike Holmes, Sam Muldrow and another transfer, Devan Downey. Conrad, from Navy, and Fredrick, from Georgia Tech, each sat for a year and then played their final two.

"We're just disappointed with the way our season ended.," Fredrick said. Right now we're just disappointed and trying to let this sink in."

OFF HIS GAME: The rumors were flying before the game about Downey, who was rumored to be sick. Downey said he was fine before the game but said he had a head cold afterwards.

"Not going to blame that game on having a head cold," he declared.

Downey led the Gamecocks with 18 points but finished 5-of-14, seeming hesitant to finish his shots once he drove the lane. He was dishing to his teammates often in the first half until he shucked that plan in the second.

"After watching film, they were very ball-conscious," Downey said. "I was just trying to find my teammates."

Downey finished with four assists but had six turnovers. He also didn't record a steal for only the fourth time this year and the first in 10 games.

"He had the sniffles," Horn said. "I sure hope it didn't affect his play."

Downey has 1,202 points, which is 27th on the school's all-time list. He is only two points behind Tarence Kinsey for 26th place. Should he return for his senior season -- signs point to yes -- and keep up his 20-points per game average, he could add 600 or more points to his total.

That would push him to 1,802, fourth place behind BJ McKie, Alex English and John Roche.

BIG MAN: Holmes scored 12 points and had eight rebounds, along with a steal. It was his 22nd double-figure point total of the season.

STREAK-BREAKER: Although the Gamecocks remain the all-time winningest SEC team in the NIT (21-10), they had their 10-game winning streak broken. USC had not lost in the NIT since the 2002 championship game.

FINISHING UP: USC's 21-10 record marked the best winning percentage (.667) for a Gamecock team since the 1997-98 team finished 23-8 (.742). The Gamecocks finished 16-3 at Colonial Life Arena, although they lost their last two home games.



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