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Feb. 14, 2007

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The Basics
South Carolina (14-12 overall; 4-7 Southeastern Conference) returns home to host Auburn (17-9 overall; 4-6 SEC) at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Colonial Center.

Series History
Auburn holds a 17-10 advantage in the all-time series with South Carolina, but the series has been intriguing lately, as the two teams have split the last eight meetings with four wins apiece. Fittingly, Carolina and Auburn split last year’s meetings, with the Gamecocks claiming a 58-46 victory over the Tigers on the Plains, only to have Auburn return the favor by eliminating the Gamecocks from the SEC Tournament with a 64-48 win in the tournament’s first round. The two teams have faced each other 12 times in Columbia, with the series tied, 6-6.

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). In her third season at Auburn, Nell Fortner has one of the most diverse résumés of any coach in America, as she has served as a collegiate head coach (Auburn, 2004-present and Purdue, 1997), a WNBA head coach and general manager (Indiana Fever, 2001-03), Olympic coach (Team USA, 1997-2000) and television personality (ESPN studio analyst, 2000-04).

South Carolina Head Coach
Susan Walvius (Virginia Tech, 1986)
Career Record: 243-242 (17th year)
Record at USC: 145-141 (10th year)

Auburn Head Coach
Nell Fortner (Texas, 1981)
Career Record: 64-48 (4th year)
Record at Auburn: 47-37 (3rd year)

Auburn From A Distance
Entering Thursday’s game having lost four of its last six, Auburn is coming off an 80-45 loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville last Sunday. The Tigers’ four SEC wins this year came over Alabama (twice), Florida and Mississippi State. Sophomore DeWanna Bonner leads the Tiger attack with 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Very large running mate KeKe Carrier creates problems in the paint for every opponent she faces, as no player in the SEC comes close to approaching her sheer mass. Point guard Whitney Boddie is one of the top distributors in the SEC with 5.1 assists per game.

A South Carolina Win Over Auburn Would…
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ fifth win in their last nine meetings with Auburn.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ third win in their last four games against Auburn played in Columbia.
:: Improve the Gamecocks’ home record to 13-4 this year.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ fourth win in their last five home games, with the lone defeat coming at the hands of No. 7 LSU.
:: Give the Gamecocks their 15th win of the season, guaranteeing that Carolina will finish the regular season with a winning record.

Land of the Giants
Thursday’s game will match the two tallest teams in the SEC, as Auburn holds the distinction of being the tallest team in the league and the second-tallest team in the country with an average height of 6-0 1/2. South Carolina is the second-tallest team in the SEC and the 14th-tallest team in the NCAA with an average height of just under 6-0. Eight of Auburn’s 13 active players are listed at 6-0 or taller, with seven of Carolina’s 13 active players listed at 6-0 or taller.

Simms Has The Hot Hand Lately
Senior guard Lauren Simms has caught fire lately, scoring a season-high 25 points last game at Georgia to surpass her previous season-high of 23 points set the game before at Arkansas. Simms has been efficient in her scoring, converting on 10-of-16 from the field against the Bulldogs and 10-of-15 from the field against the Razorbacks. When the two games are combined, Simms was successful on .645 pct of her attempts from the field last week. The senior from Columbia has surpassed the 20-point mark three times this season, as she went for 20 against Mississippi State as well.

Simms Climbing South Carolina Scoring Chart
Lauren Simms enters the Auburn game with 1,051 career points, a mark that puts her 24th on South Carolina’s all-time scoring list. Simms has a realistic chance of passing Rita Johnson (1,056 points from 1977-81), Monica Williams (1,057 points from 1983-88) and Jean Walling (1,063 points from 1977-80) this week to catapult up to 21st on South Carolina’s career scoring chart.

Gamecocks In The Top 25 Nationally
Entering the Auburn game, South Carolina ranks among the top 25 teams nationally in blocked shots (9th; 5.88 per game), rebounding margin (12th; +9.0) and steals (11th; 12.27 per game).

Tolliver Brings Blocks Streak Into Auburn Game
Junior forward Lakesha Tolliver enters the Auburn game having blocked at least one shot in each of her last 19 games. Tolliver has rejected more than one shot in a game in 13 of her last 16 games played.

Tolliver Can Crack Single-Season Blocks Top Five
With 47 blocked shots this season heading into the Auburn game, Lakesha Tolliver is in sole possession of sixth place on South Carolina’s single-season blocked shots chart and needs just one block to match Petra Ujhelyi’s total of 48 blocks in 2002-03 and just two blocks to match Michelle Murray’s total of 49 blocks in 1991-92.

Carolina Has Faced The Nation’s Best This Year
South Carolina has gotten a first-hand look at some of the best teams in the nation this year, as the Gamecocks have faced five teams that were ranked in the top-10 at the time of the game. The Gamecocks hosted No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 7 LSU at the Colonial Center and went on the road to face No. 3 Tennessee, No. 9 Georgia and No. 10 Stanford. The Gamecocks faced seven top-10 opponents in 1989-90, faced six top-10 foes in 1990-91 and went toe-to-toe with five top-10 opponents during the 2000-01 campaign.

Noting South Carolina’s Schedule
The Gamecocks are 14-12 on the year, with their 12 losses coming at the hands of teams that have combined to post a 225-77 record (.749 winning pct.) A closer look at the teams who beat South Carolina this year:

Opponent Record (As of 2/12)
at Penn State…… 12-13
Louisiana-Lafayette…… 19-7
at NC State…… 18-8
No. 3 Oklahoma…… 18-4
at Kentucky…… 16-10
at No. 10 Stanford…… 20-4
No. 14 Vanderbilt…… 21-4
at No. 24 Ole Miss…… 19-7
at Mississippi State…… 16-9
at No. 3 Tennessee…… 23-2
No. 7 LSU…… 22-4
at No. 9 Georgia…… 21-5
Combined Record…… 225-77 (.745 win pct.)