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Nov. 28, 2003

South Carolina returns to the court Saturday night after enjoying a brief Thanksgiving holiday away from basketball as the Gamecocks welcome the Florida A&M Rattlers to Columbia for their first visit to the Colonial Center. Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m.

South Carolina holds a 2-1 record after defeating Mercer University Wednesday night, 99-78. Florida A&M is 1-1 with a Friday night win at Savannah State, 62-52.

The two teams have battled four times in the past with South Carolina capturing all four contests. In the last meeting on December 30, 2001, USC defeated the Rattlers, 82-29, in the Carolina Coliseum. Cristina Ciocan and Kelly Morrone are the only remaining Gamecocks who played in the contest with Ciocan passing 14 assists while Morrone contributing 11 points. Candace Cameron is the lone Florida A&M player that participated in the last meeting but she did not score or register a rebound.

he Gamecocks have five players averaging in double figures with seniors Kelly Morrone and Cristina Ciocan leading the way with 23.7 and 20.0 points per game, respectively. Freshman Iva Sliskovic is third on the team in scoring at 13.3 with sophomores Olga Gritsaeva and Sarah Burgess rounding out the top five with 12.3 and 10.7 points per contest apiece. Gritsaeva paces the rebounding efforts for USC with nine boards per contest.

FAMU is led by senior guard Yolanda Dixon’s average of 19 points per game. The Seattle, Washington native also paces the Rattlers’ efforts on the boards with five boards per game. Guard Dierdre Tyus and Center Kimberely Watson are tied for second in team scoring with seven points per contest.

Dixon and Watson were selected to the 2003-04 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Preseason All-Conference First Team with the Rattlers selected to finished third in the conference. Watson finished second in the MEAC in scoring last year with an average of 17.7 while Dixon was fifth at 14.1. Watson led the conference in rebounding (10.4 rpg) , field goal percentage (57.2%) and defensive rebounds (6.9).

Florida A&M is led by Debra Clark who is in her third year with the school and holds a 27-29 record in her two seasons and a career coaching mark of 138-114. Last season, FAMU went 16-13 and finished in a tie for fourth place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 11-7 record.