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Jan. 29, 2003

The South Carolina Gamecocks end their murderous January SEC schedule Thursday night with a battle against the Florida Gators. Game time is 7:00 p.m. and all fans who bring an article of clothing (in good condition) to donate to the Salvation Army will receive a $2 ticket.

Ranked 16th in the country in both polls, USC is 14-4 and 2-3 in the SEC. The Gamecocks opened the 2003 SEC schedule with six January games against teams who all competed in the NCAA Tournament last year, four of which are ranked in the top 25 (two in the top 10). The Gamecocks opened with wins over #14/15 Mississippi State and #17 Vanderbilt before falling to #10 Arkansas, Georgia and #4 Tennessee.

Florida is in the midst of a six-game losing streak (8-10 overall record and 0-5 in the conference) under first-year head coach, Carolyn Peck. During this dry stretch, the Gators lost to three Top 10 opponents (Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas) in seven days. Florida is suffering the worst losing streak in school history since a seven-game slide during the 1979-80 season.

Senior forward Jocelyn Penn is second in the country with an average of 27 points per game and leads the SEC and the Gamecocks in scoring. Junior Cristina Ciocan is second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per contest and is second in the SEC with 6.8 assists per game. Senior Petra Ujhelyi paces the SEC and team’s rebounding efforts with 9.1 boards per contest and is third in scoring (10.9 ppg).

The Gators were crippled by an early injury to All-America center Vanessa Hayden who broke her left fibula against NC State on December 7th and has missed the team’s last 10 games. She is listed as day-to-day and without her presence in the paint, Florida is being outrebounded by 7.9 boards per game.

The extremely young Florida team started five freshmen at George Washington Sunday and are led by freshman Bernice Mosby who is averaging 13.8 points per game while freshman Sarah Lowe has contributed 11.1 points per contest. Hayden is third at 9.1 ppg but has only played in eight games this season. She leads the Gators in rebounds with 9.6 per game while Mosby is second at 8.7 rpg.