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Jan. 21, 2003

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South Carolina and Tennessee tangle Thursday night in a crucial SEC battle. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. with ComCast providing television coverage. Locally, the game can be heard on WISW Radio (1320 am) with Mike Morgan and Michelle Marciniak describing the action.

The 15/14th ranked Gamecocks come into Thursday’s game after a disappointing home loss Sunday to Georgia, 67-59 to snap a 10-game winning streak in the new Carolina Center. Prior to Sunday’s game, South Carolina had captured 16 straight home wins (Carolina Coliseum & Carolina Center) dating back to January 20, 2002. Up by one (52-51) with 5:03 left to play, the Gamecocks went on a dry spell and scored only six more points while the Bulldogs put up 15 points to take the victory. Three Gamecocks scored in double figures with Jocelyn Penn leading the way with 23 points.

South Carolina is almost finished with a murderous opening section of the SEC schedule in which all six of the Gamecocks’ January opponents participated in the NCAA Tournament last year and three of the six currently ranked. USC holds a 3-2 record against Top 25 teams this season after going 7-2 against ranked teams last year.

Jocelyn Penn paces the Gamecock scoring with an average of 27.1 points per contest while Petra Ujhelyi is South Carolina’s top rebounder with 9.4 boards per contest. The senior Naismith nominee is second in the country in scoring after Chandi Jones of Houston overtook her Sunday by two-tenths of a point (Jones – 27.3 ppg). Penn is still first in the SEC in scoring, steals and offensive rebounds while Ujhelyi leads the conference in rebounds and defensive rebounds. Penn had been first in the country through Sunday’s game and is the only SEC player to lead the country in scoring at least in the last five seasons, and perhaps longer. LaToya Thomas (MSU) was second at times last season. Penn is closing in on the title as the SEC’s all-time steals leader as the senior trails Niesa Johnson’s (Alabama) career total of 350 thefts by only 32.

Tennesse enters the game with an unblemished 3-0 mark in the SEC after defeating Florida on Sunday, 94-53. Gwen Jackson led all scorers with 32 points while Zana Zolman contributed 19. Jackson leads the team in scoring with an average of 15.1 points per game while Kara Lawson is second at 13.5. Center Ashley Robinson paces the UT rebounding efforts (6.4 rpg).