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Nov. 23, 2006

The Basics
South Carolina (3-1 overall) welcomes Mercer, Bethune-Cookman and Louisiana-Lafayette to the Colonial Center for the South Carolina Thanksgiving Classic, played Friday and Saturday.

Bethune-Cookman and Louisiana-Lafayette tip off the tournament at 5 p.m. Friday, with South Carolina and Mercer hooking up at about 7 p.m. The consolation game is set for 5 p.m Saturday, with the championship tipping off at 7 p.m.

Ticket Information
Adults are admitted for $7. Youths under the age of 18 are admitted for $3. A family of four is admitted for $18, with a $3 admission for each additional child. The group rate is $3 Groups must call the Colonial Center in advance. The group rate number is 803-576-9077. All other ticket arrangements can be made through the USC Ticket Office toll free at 800-4SC-FANS or locally at 803-777-4274.

On The Air
Both of Carolina’s games during the Thanksgiving Classic will be broadcast live on WISW 1320 AM Radio in Columbia, with Brad Heller handling play-by-play duties and Robin Muller providing analysis. For fans outside of the Columbia area, the game can be accessed worldwide via the internet at

About The Coaches
South Carolina Head Coach Susan Walvius is in her 10th year at the helm of the Gamecock women’s basketball program. The 2002 SEC Coach of the Year, Walvius led the Gamecocks to the Elite Eight in 2002 and has guided Carolina to the postseason in three of the last five seasons. She has attracted top-15 recruiting classes to Carolina in 2003 (10th) and in 2005 (13th).

Louisiana-Lafayette Head Coach J. Kelley Hall is in his fifth year with the Ragin’ Cajuns. His wife, Meredith Hall is the team’s co-head coach. J. Kelley Hall is no stranger to Southeastern Conference women’s basketball, as he served as volunteer assistant coach at Alabama (1983-84) and was a full-time assistant on the staffs at Mississippi State (1992-94) and Auburn (1996-2000).

Bethune-Cookman head coach Francis Simmons is in his third year at the helm of the Lady Wildcat program. A longtime assistant coach for the South Carolina State men’s basketball team, Simmons spent 17 years with the Bulldogs before switching over to the women’s side and taking the head job at Bethune Cookman. Prior to joining the SCSU coaching staff, Simmons served as an assistant coach at Georgetown University under legendary coach John Thompson. Simmons joined the Hoyas coaching staff in December, 1985. During his tenure, he helped guide the Hoyas to a pair of Big East titles. He also assisted Coach Thompson during the 1988 Olympics with Thompson as the head coach of the United States team.

Mercer is led by Interim Head Coach Sybil Blalock. Blalock was out of coaching, but served as an associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Mercer when she accepted the Interim Head Coach role. A former star player at Mercer (she graduated in 1975 after scoring more than 1,800 points during her career), Blalock has 17 years of college coaching experience, the bulk of which came at Mercer and the University of New Orleans.

Series History
Friday’s meeting between South Carolina and Mercer marks the eighth meeting between the two schools. The Gamecocks own a 5-2 advantage in the all-time series and have won each of the last three games against Mercer, the most recent of which was a 99-78 beating in 2003.

Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette have faced each other three times, with the Gamecocks claiming a 72-61 win in 2001, a 60-41 win in 2002 and a 72-59 win in 2003.

Bethune-Cookman visited the Colonial Center last year in the first-ever meeting between the Lady Wildcats and Gamecocks, with Carolina romping to an 87-26 win.

Been There, Done That, Seen Them
South Carolina senior guard Lauren Simms has started games against each of the three schools competing in this week’s tournament. In 2003, Simms scored seven points and dished out three assists against Mercer and went for seven points and two rebounds against Louisiana-Lafayette. Simms scored six points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists against Bethune-Cookman last season.

Simms is the only current Gamecock to have started against Mercer, Louisiana-Lafayette and Bethune-Cookman, but nearly everyone on the Carolina roster played Bethune-Cookman when the two teams met last season, with Iva Sliskovic, Lea Fabbri and Larissa Kulcsar all joining Simms as players who have faced all three schools.

Who’s Got The Hot Hand Lately
Only four games into her collegiate career, freshman Kellindra Zackery enters this weekend’s tournament as South Carolina’s leading scorer at 12.3 points per game. Zackery leads the Gamecocks with 17 offensive rebounds and ranks second on the team with eight assists.

Sophomore Demetress Adams is averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the last two contests and has converted on 13-of-19 field goals in that span (.685 pct.)

Senior Iva Sliskovic scored in double figures in each of Carolina’s first three games, then came back to score nine points and grab four rebounds in the Gamecocks’ win over Clemson in the fourth game of the year.

Gamecock Trends
* Dating back to last year, South Carolina is 14-2 when dishing out 16 or more assists in a game.
* Dating back to the 2003-04 season, South Carolina is 19-6 when a Gamecock player posts a double-double.
* South Carolina has won the points-off-turnovers battle in each of its four games this season.
* Dating back to last season, South Carolina is 17-4 when winning the points-off-turnovers battle.
* The South Carolina bench has outscored that of the opposition by a 165-65 margin this year.
* South Carolina has limited each of its first four opponents to less than 20 field goals made.
* South Carolina has outrebounded its first four opponents by an average of 14.5 boards per game.
* The Gamecocks boast a 1.12 assist-to-turnover ratio and have held the opposition to a paltry 0.36 mark.
* South Carolina has forced its first four opponents into committing 26.5 turnovers per game. The Gamecocks boast a +10.0 turnover margin this year.
* A different player has led the Gamecocks in scoring in each of South Carolina’s first four games this year.

A South Carolina Win Over Mercer Would…
>> Mark the Gamecocks’ 11th consecutive home victory over a non-conference opponent, dating back to last season.
>> Improve the Gamecocks’ record to 4-1 to start this season, marking Carolina’s best start since an 8-1 start to the 2003-04 season.
>> Improve the Gamecocks’ record to 6-2 all-time against Mercer.
>> Mark the Gamecocks’ fourth consecutive win over Mercer.
>> Improve the Gamecocks to 25-2 all-time against teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference.
>> Mark the Gamecocks’ 18th consecutive win over a team from the Atlantic Sun.
>> Mark the Gamecocks’ second win over an Atlantic Sun team this year, as Carolina handed East Tennessee State a 78-53 pounding in the season opener.
>> Improve Susan Walvius’ record to 94-43 in regular-season games played against non-conference opposition.
>> Improve Susan Walvius’ record to 62-9 in regular season non-conference home games.

Pick Your Poison
Depth and balance are two of South Carolina’s strengths. The Gamecocks do not have any single dominant player that opposing defenses can key on, rather, they have any number of players who can do damage.

Among the illustrations of the Gamecocks’ depth and balance is the fact that eight of Carolina’s 13 active players have scored in double figures through only four games this year.

Carolina’s Double-Figure Scorers This Year
Iva Sliskovic – 3 games (ETSU, PSU, NCA&T)
Demetress Adams – 2 games (NCA&T, CLEM)
Kellindra Zackery – 2 games (NCA&T, CLEM)
Stacy Booker – 1 game (NCA&T)
Brionna Dickerson – 1 game (NCA&T)
Melanie Johnson – 1 game (ETSU)
Lauren Simms – 1 game (PSU)
Lakesha Tolliver – 1 game (ETSU)