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Jan. 31, 2007

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The Basics
South Carolina (13-9 overall; 3-4 Southeastern Conference) is back on the road to face No. 3 Tennessee (19-2 overall; 6-0 SEC) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Series History
Thursday’s game marks the 36th meeting between South Carolina and Tennessee, with the Lady Vols owning a 34-1 advantage in the series to date. Tennessee is 15-0 against South Carolina in Knoxville, winning a 74-44 decision over the Gamecocks in the most recent meeting between the two teams played at Thompson-Boling in 2005. The Lady Vols claimed a 66-51 win at the Colonial Center in last year’s only meeting. Tennessee counts its all-time record vs. South Carolina as 36-2, but three of the games that UT recognizes were played against South Carolina before the Gamecocks counted women’s basketball as a varsity sport.

Injury Update: Fabbri Upgraded To Questionable
Senior point guard Lea Fabbri sprained her right ankle in South Carolina’s win over Alabama on Jan. 14 and missed each of the last four games as a result. Fabbri status has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday’s game at Tennessee. She practiced this week for the first time since sustaining her injury.

Simms Could Hit 1,000-Point Mark Thursday
Senior guard Lauren Simms is flirting with the 1,000-point mark for her career, as she enters Thursday’s game with 989 career points and needs just 11 points to become the 26th player in South Carolina history to score 1,000 career points.

On The Air
The game 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). On the short list of best coaches ever, regardless of sport or gender, Tennessee’s Pat Summitt is the only college basketball coach ever to win 900 games. A six-time selection as SEC Coach of the Year, Summitt owns six national championships, 13 SEC championships and an additional 12 SEC Tournament championships, including last year’s.

South Carolina Head Coach
Susan Walvius (Virginia Tech, 1986)
Career Record: 242-239 (17th year)
Record at USC: 144-138 (10th year)

Tennessee Head Coach
Pat Summitt (Tennessee-Martin, 1974)
Career Record: 932-179 (33rd year)
Record at Tennessee: 932-179 (33rd year)

Rocky Top Homecoming
South Carolina assistant coach Michelle Marciniak starred at Tennessee from 1993-96, earning MVP honors at the 1996 Final Four in leading the Lady Vols to the National Championship that year. Marciniak scored 1,004 points in her three years in Knoxville after transferring following her freshman year at Notre Dame. She led the team in assists her junior and senior years and remains to this day in the Tennessee record books for making 11 steals in a game against Kentucky in 1996. She ranks among Tennessee’s top 10 in both single-season and career assists as well.

Tennessee From A Distance
Ranked No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll, Tennessee owns a 19-2 overall record to go with a 6-0 mark in SEC play. The Lady Vols are the only undefeated team in the league and their two non-conference losses were a 70-57 loss at North Carolina and a 74-70 setback at home against Duke. Tennessee is an excellent shooting team, knocking down three-pointers at a 40.2 pct. clip and is aggressive defensively, coming up with 13.0 steals per game. Sophomore Candace Parker, senior Sidney Spencer and junior Alexis Hornbuckle are the Lady Vols’ top players, with Parker leading the squad with 19.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Spencer averages 13.0 points per game and ranks among the national leaders with a .480 percentage from three-point range, and Hornbuckle ranking among the national leaders with 3.3 steals per game.

A South Carolina Win Over Tennessee Would…
:: Snap the Lady Vols’ 32-game winning streak over the Gamecocks that dates back to a 56-52 Carolina triumph in 1980.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ first-ever win over the Lady Vols in Knoxville.
:: Mark the Gamecocks first road win over an SEC opponent this year.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ first win over a ranked opponent since a 79-61 victory over No. 14 Minnesota last year.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ first road win over a ranked opponent since a 66-57 victory over No. 17 Vanderbilt in Nashville in 2003.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ first win over a team ranked in the top 10 since a 71-52 victory over No. 6 Vanderbilt in 2002.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ first win over a team ranked in the top five since a 69-55 win over No. 4 NC State in 1999.
:: Tie this year’s Tennessee team for being the highest-ranked squad that South Carolina has ever beaten. The Gamecocks beat Auburn in two separate seasons when the Tigers were ranked No. 3, as Carolina handed the third-ranked Tigers an 83-76 defeat in 1990 and repeated that feat by knocking off the third-ranked Tigers by a 59-47 margin in 1993.
:: Make the Gamecocks only the 10th team to win in Thompson-Boling Arena since the Lady Vols moved into facility for the 1987-88 season. The nine teams to have beat Tennessee in Thompson-Boling are Duke, LSU, Florida, Texas, Connecticut, Louisiana Tech, Georgia, Stanford and Auburn.

Not Afraid Of Top-Shelf Competition
Tennessee is the third top-10 team South Carolina has faced this year, as the Gamecocks hosted No. 3 Oklahoma in December and traveled to Palo Alto to take on No. 10 Stanford in January. Following Thursday’s game in Knoxville, Carolina will make it four top-10 teams when No. 7 LSU visits the Colonial Center Sunday.

Tolliver Brings Blocks Streak Into Knoxville
Junior forward Lakesha Tolliver enters Thursday’s game against Tennessee having blocked at least one shot in each of her last 15 games. Tolliver has rejected more than one shot in a game in 11 of her last 12 games played.

Johnson Has The Hot Hand Lately
Melanie Johnson lifted South Carolina to a pair of SEC wins over Florida and Kentucky last week, posting double-doubles and leading the team in scoring and rebounding in both games. Johnson averaged 19.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in the two wins. She scored 22 points and grabbed 12 boards to pace the Gamecocks to a 79-51 victory over the Gators on Thursday, then came back to score 17 points and collect 12 rebounds in Carolina’s 66-56 win over the Wildcats Sunday.

Stat Freaks
It’s safe to say that South Carolina’s stat sheet is unique. The SEC produces a report in 19 different team statistical categories, with South Carolina leading the league in rebounding margin (+11.2) and blocked shots (5.82 per game) and ranking among the top three teams in the conference in nine of those 19 categories. However, when you look at the individual categories, South Carolina is nearly non-existent, as Lakesha Tolliver (third in the SEC with 1.77 blocked shots per game and Melanie Johnson (sixth in the SEC with 3.19 offensive rebounds per game) are the only players from Carolina ranking among the top 10 individuals in the SEC in any category.

Gamecocks In The Top 25 Nationally
South Carolina ranks among the top 25 teams in the NCAA in rebounding margin (6th; +11.2), steals (10th; 12.82 per game), blocked shots (10th; 5.82 per game), scoring margin (17th; +15.6 points per game) and scoring defense (56.0 points per game).

Noting South Carolina’s Schedule
The Gamecocks are 13-9 on the year, with their nine losses coming at the hands of teams that have combined to post a 139-55 record (.716 winning pct.) A closer look at Carolina’s stiffest opposition this year:

Opponent Record (As of 1/31)
at Penn State…… 11-11
Louisiana-Lafayette…… 17-6
at NC State…… 15-7
No. 3 Oklahoma…… 17-2
Kentucky…… 14-8
at No. 10 Stanford…… 18-3
No. 14 Vanderbilt…… 18-4
at No. 24 Ole Miss…… 16-6
at Mississippi State…… 13-8
Combined Record…… 139-55 (.716 win pct.)