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Jan. 24, 2004

Two SEC teams in search of their first conference win meet Sunday as the South Carolina Gamecocks welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to the Colonial Center. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m. Sunday is Scout Day at the Colonial Center as all scouts who wear their uniform receive a $2 ticket. After the game, fans can stick around for a Gamecock Autograph Party on the Colonial Center Concourse.

After winning eight of nine games to start the season, South Carolina (8-8, 0-4) has fallen into a seven-game slide over the last month and will try to reverse its fortunes at home Sunday against the Wildcats. Kentucky has also lost all four of its SEC games under new head coach Mickie DeMoss.

After swapping leads 13 times, USC fell on the road at Florida Thursday night, 61-56. The Gators held USC scoreless in the last 2:03 while Vanessa Hayden converted all of her free throws for the winning margin. Cristina Ciocan led the Gamecocks with 16 points, six rebounds, four steals and four assists. The senior from Bucharest, Romania enters Sunday’s game only three assists away from becoming the South Carolina career leader in assists with 596. The current record holder is Mindy Ballou (1983-1986) who passed 595 assists during her career. If she passes the mark Sunday, Ciocan will have accomplished the feat in 105 contests as opposed to the 115 games played for Ballou.

The SEC’s sixth-ranked scoring offense, the Gamecock attack is led by three players averaging in double figures. Senior Cristina Ciocan paces USC in scoring with an average of 14.3 points per game while freshman Iva Sliskovic is second at 12.4. Senior Kelly Morrone is third at 12.2 per game. Lauren Simms and Olga Gritsaeva are third and fourth on the team in scoring with 9.4 and 9.3 ppg, respectively. Sliskovic is the team leader in rebounding with an average of 7.4 boards per game.

Kentucky enters Sunday’s game after a Thursday night road loss at Mississippi State, 80-67. After taking a 36-33 lead into the locker room at the half, Kentucky was outscored in the second half, 47-30, as MSU’s Tan White put up 33 points in the victory. Sara Potts lead the way for the Wildcats with 19 points while Jenny Pfeiffer added 11. SeSe Helm grabbed seven boards in the loss. The Wildcat scoring and rebounding is led by SeSe Helm’s 15 points and 8.2 boards per game. Sara Potts is second in both categories at 14.7 points and 6.2 boards per contest.

Kentucky leads the overall series, 17-13, but the Gamecocks have won nine of 13 Columbia contests. South Carolina has captured the last four USC-UK games with four consecutive wins in Columbia. The last time that Kentucky defeated South Carolina at home was on February 11, 1999. This is the first time that USC has faced a Mickie DeMoss-coached team.