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March 2, 2007

The Basics
Fresh off Thursday’s 65-63 first-round win over Aubrn, South Carolina (17-13 overall) faces No. 2 Tennessee (27-2 overall) at 1 p.m. Friday in the second round of the SEC Tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. The game will be televised live by FSN South.

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 seven-time selection as SEC Coach of the Year including this year, Summitt owns six national championships, 14 SEC championships including this year’s and an additional 12 SEC Tournament championships, including last year’s.

South Carolina Head Coach
Susan Walvius (Virginia Tech, 1986)
Career Record: 246-243 (17th year)
Record at USC: 148-142 (10th year)

Tennessee Head Coach
Pat Summitt (UT-Martin, 1974)
Career Record: 940-179 (33rd year)
Record at UT: 940-179 (33rd year)

Rocky Top Memories
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
In familiar territory as a national title contender, No. 2 Tennessee enters the SEC Tournament with a 27-2 overall record that shows losses only to No. 1 Duke and at No. 4 North Carolina. The Lady Vols put a cap on a perfect 14-0 SEC schedule by picking up a 20-point victory over a red-hot Vanderbilt team that was ranked No. 12 in the nation heading into the regular-season finale. SEC Player of the Year Candace Parker is one of the favorites to earn National Player of the Year honors after averaging 20.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Sharpshooter Sidney Spencer (11.4 points per game on .435 pct shooting from three-point range) and flashy point guard Alexis Hornbuckle (9.9 points per game and 4.1 assists per game) complement Parker in the Lady Vol attack. As a team, Tennessee ranks among the top 25 teams in the country in steals (6th; 12.4 per game), scoring margin (8th; +18.4 points per game), scoring offense (17th; 74.7 points per game), blocked shots (19th; 5.2 per game), three-point field goal percentage (21st; 37.0 pct.) and scoring defense (25th; 56.3 points per game).

A South Carolina Win Over Tennessee Would…
:: All but lock up a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the Gamecocks, who would own an 18-13 overall record with a signature win over the Lady Vols to their credit to go with a pair of wins over Auburn (RPI No. 35) in the last two weeks.
:: Put the Gamecocks in the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament for the first time ever.
:: Mark Carolina’s fourth win in its last five games and its fifth win in the last seven games.
:: Snap the Lady Vols’ 33-game winning streak over the Gamecocks that dates back to a 56-52 Carolina triumph in 1980.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ first win over a ranked opponent since a 79-61 victory over No. 14 Minnesota last year.
:: Mark the Gamecocks’ first win over a ranked opponent away from the Colonial Center 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.
:: Make this year’s Tennessee team 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. The Gamecocks have never beaten a team ranked No. 2 or No. 1.

This Year’s Previous Meeting
The Gamecocks turned the ball over a season-high 34 times as they fell to No. 3 Tennessee, 72-36 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Feb. 1. Tennessee scored 31 points off Carolina’s turnovers and improved to 16-0 against the Gamecocks in Knoxville. The Lady Vols held Carolina to their second-lowest first half scoring output in school history after taking a 37-11 halftime lead. Despite holding the Tennessee offense in check in the opening minutes – allowing only four points in the first five minutes of play – Carolina’s offense was stagnant in the first half as the Lady Vols opened the game on a 16-0 run over the first nine minutes of play. The Gamecocks did not score their first points until Melanie Johnson made a layup with 10:10 remaining in the first half to make the score 16-2. The early run was all Tennessee needed to set the tone for the victory, as Carolina didn’t challenge the Lady Vols at any point.