The South Carolina women's basketball team kicked off rivalry week on a high note with a 64-43…
WBB: USC hosts Clemson, tickets $1
Time: 3 p.m. (ET)
Location: Columbia, SC
Arena: Colonial Life Arena
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
Clemson series: Clemson leads 33-24. In Columbia: Carolina 16-10. In Clemson: Clemson 20-6. Neutral: Carolina leads 2-0
It didn't take her long to find out what the rivalry was all about. JUCO transfer Wilka Montout had not even been on campus for a month when she committed a cardinal sin in the rivalry that is South Carolina and Clemson.
"Ever since the summer," Montout said about learning what the rivalry is all about. "Everybody keeps saying Clemson is a big rival. I remember one day I was in the office and I was wearing an orange jersey and people were saying that I was wearing an enemy color. Even watching the soccer team and volleyball team play Clemson was high-energy."
Though Clemson dominated the rivalry through the 90's, winning seven in a row from 1996-2001, Carolina has seen more success in recent years. The Gamecocks have won five of the last seven meetings, including the last two. Carolina got their first win over their bitter rival for the first time in the Dawn Staley era with a 73-59 pounding of the Tigers in 2010, and followed that up with a 65-48 beatdown last season in Clemson.
Clemson coach Itoro Coleman enters her third year looking for her first win in the rivalry. She inherited a program that was at the bottom of the ACC and signed an impressive class last year. Coleman signed 5-star forward Jonquel Jones, the fourth-ranked forward in the country, and four 4-star players that are all in the top 25 players at their position. The Tigers are off to an 0-2 start after losses to Presbyterian and South Florida in overtime.
"They're not playing their best basketball, and part of that is because they're young," Staley said. "They have some players that are making an immediate impact and they're trying to find their way. I think they understand the rivalry and they're a formidable opponent, and if we don't come to play they will beat us."
Carolina enters the contest 3-0, tied for the best start in the Staley era. They have easily won each of the three games, outscoring their opponents 237-149, an average of nearly 30 points per game. Coming off of a 78-47 win over Savannah State on Thursday night, Carolina did not practice particularly well.
"I thought we were a little sluggish," Staley said. "Coming off of a game you tend to have that, but I think we're always in a constant battle with them to make them understand that there's another level of basketball being played out there. Clemson will probably be our toughest competition to date. We want to make sure we're preparing them to understand that it's not going to be an easy contest."
Tiffany Davis, who injured her knee late in Thursday's game, is likely not to play Sunday. Elem Ibiam, who missed the last two games for precautionary reasons after a slight head injury in practice earlier this week, will be back and available.
G - Ieasia Walker
G - Sancheon White
G - Tiffany Mitchell
F - Ashley Bruner
F - Aleighsa Welch
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