- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Stop Stephen Curry? Not likely, according to South Carolina’s Darrin Horn, the next coach faced with shutting down the Davidson star and the NCAA’s leading scorer.

The Gamecocks (21-9) get their chance against Curry and the Wildcats (26-7) to open the NIT on Tuesday night.

Short of double-teaming the baby-faced junior _ remember the wacky triangle-and-two defense by Loyola, Md., that held Curry scoreless in Davidson’s November blowout of Loyola _ Horn expects Curry to leave the Colonial Life Arena with some eye-catching totals after the buzzer sounds.

“I don’t know if you’re going to stop a guy that shoots 20-plus times a game and puts up 30 (points) all year long,” Horn said Monday. “I think the key against someone like him, hopefully, you make him work for everything.”

It’s a strategy several schools from Bowl Championship Series conferences have tried against Curry with varying effect.

In Curry’s second college game, he hung 32 on Michigan and closed his freshman season with 30 in an NCAA tournament loss to Maryland.

Curry only got better as a sophomore. He scored a combined 73 points in the preseason against the Research Triangle powers of North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina State. Then after another Southern Conference championship, the Wildcats and Curry put on an NCAA tournament show that captivated the country.

Curry torched Gonzaga for 40 points, Georgetown for 30 and Wisconsin for 33 as Davidson advanced to the final eight. The Wildcats eventually fell to Kansas, 59-57, ending a run many hoped would become a sequel this season.

Instead, the SoCon’s regular-season champions fell in their tournament’s semifinals and were left out of the NCAAs.

Curry and his teammates were disappointed they didn’t get the chance to back up last year’s performance with another magical trip.

“The excitement we brought last year, maybe people were looking forward to seeing if we could make another run at it,” Curry said before Davidson’s Monday practice. “But it didn’t work out that way. Somebody else is going to have to make that story now.”

Curry’s next chapter will have to come in the NIT.

“It’s not what our goal was coming into this season,” he said. “But you have to be happy to be able to play another game and try to extend the season as far as you can.”

Curry’s likely to face South Carolina’s own speedy, savvy shooter in Southeastern Conference first-teamer Devan Downey, who led the league and was tied for third in the country at three steals a game.

Horn expects Curry will be fronted by several Gamecocks defenders throughout, all with the intent of wearing down the 6-foot-3 son of former NBA standout Dell Curry.

If there’s tape out there (other than Loyola’s gonzo attempt) of taking Curry out of the game, Horn hasn’t seen it.

“I don’t know anybody who said, ‘Oh man, they completely shut them down,’” the coach said. “Good players find a way to do what they do.”

The Gamecocks will do what they’ve done against other standout scorers like Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks, said senior Zam Fredrick.

“Stay close to him. Make it tough for him. Make him do things he doesn’t want to do,” Fredrick said. “Make all his shots contested shots.”

That doesn’t always work since Curry’s one of the game’s best at squeezing off on-target shots from impossible situations.

Both teams will have to shake off the disappointment of missing the NCAA tournament and refocus on the consolation prize.

Curry watched the entire selection show, gaining hope when CBS flashed one of his highlights during the opening. However, he left downhearted and upset.

The Gamecocks, too, had hoped their improvement from 5-11 in the SEC in 2008 to 10-6 and co-champs of the SEC’s Eastern Division this season was enough to earn an NCAA bid.

Fredrick says it’s difficult to put aside the lost opportunity when you’ve worked all year for that goal. However, a star like Curry snaps you back to attention.

“Not getting in is a disappointment,” said Fredrick. But “seeing that you do get to play that type of player, everybody’s going to be watching, national televised game, as a player you’ve got to get up for it.”

Especially when there’s a player like Curry waiting for the next chance to bring down a BCS opponent.

“We have to find a way to get excited, get some momentum coming into tomorrow and go from there,” Curry said.


AP Sports Writer Mike Cranston in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.

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