Jan. 2, 2004
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The South Carolina Gamecocks makes their first regular season appearance on national television with Saturday’s CBS broadcast of the South Carolina-Minnesota contest. Game time is set for 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (3:00 p.m. Central Time). Debbie Antonelli and Beth Mowins will call the action for CBS.
USC will look to start off the new year with a win after suffering disappointing back-to-back setbacks to end 2003. The Gamecocks had their eight-game winning streak snapped on December 20th by 15th-ranked North Carolina, 77-53, in the Beach Ball Classic. And after a 10-day break from basketball, USC was surprised by the Seton Hall Pirates, 57-46, on the road Tuesday afternoon after leading by as many as six points in the second half.
South Carolina (8-3) leads the SEC in scoring with an average of 79.5 points per contest. The Gamecock offensive attack features four players in double figures. USC is led by All-America candidate Cristina Ciocan who is averaging 16.1 points per game and leads the nation in assists with 9.5 per game. The senior from Romania recorded a career-high 33 points at Charlotte (12/14) and notched a school-record 18 assists against Florida A&M (11/29).
The USC frontline features 6-5 freshman Iva Sliskovic who is second on the team in scoring (13.5) and rebounding (7.5). In 11 games, Sliskovic has scored in double figures in seven games and has recorded three double-doubles. Her 65.6% field goal percentage leads the SEC.
Senior team captain Kelly Morrone is third on the team in scoring with an average of 13.4 points per game. The New York native is a quick point-producer from behind the arc with the country’s 11th best average of 3.27 treys per game.
Olga Gritsaeva paces the team in rebounds with an average of 7.6 boards per game. The sophomore from St. Petersburg, Russia is also fourth on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game. Fellow sophomore Sarah Burgess is traditionally the sixth player off the bench and against Seton Hall, Burgess led all scorers with 16 points.
South Carolina started the same five for the first 10 games of the season before making a switch at post in Tuesday’s game at Seton Hall. Instead of the two freshmen in the starting five, USC added another freshman, Larissa Kulcsar, in place of Olga Gritsaeva.
Minnesota enters today’s contest as one of only six undefeated teams in the country. After starting out last season with a 12-0 mark, the Golden Gophers are 11-0 so far this season with victories over Virginia and Michigan this week. In its first 10 games, UM has outscored its opponents in the paint, 443-221.