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Jan. 17, 2009

South Carolina at No. 13/15 Tennessee | 3 p.m.
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Last Time Out
South Carolina senior guard Brionna Dickerson poured in a season-high 20 points, but it was not enough in a 77-63 loss to No. 19 Florida Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks trailed by 10 at the half and saw the lead balloon to 21 points with under eight minutes to play. A 14-2 run brought the deficit under double digits with just under a minute on the clock, but the Gators were solid at the free throw line in the final minute ot seal the victory.

Series Notes
Tennessee leads the series 37-1 and has won the last 35 straight meetings, including every matchup since South Carolina joined the SEC for the 1991-92 season. In fact, the Gamecocks have been inside a double-digit deficit in just eight of the last 35 meetings. The narrowest Tennessee victory of the stretch came in a 70-69 decision for the then-No. 3 Lady Vols on Jan. 25, 1990, in Columbia when the Gamecocks were also ranked in the nation’s top 20. The most recent near miss for the Lady Vols came on Feb. 15, 1996, when the Gamecocks fell 73-79 in overtime in Columbia after having then-No. 6 Tennessee down 36-20 at the half. South Carolina’s lone victory in the series was a 56-52 decision on Jan. 23, 1980, in Columbia. The teams have met 17 times in Knoxville, with the Lady Vols winning each game. Tennessee has been ranked in the nation’s top 20 for all but one of the 38 meetings with the Gamecocks. The Lady Vols were outside the top 10 just three times in that stretch. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has matched game plans with Tennessee’s Pat Summitt twice in her career with the Lady Vols coming out on top both times. Staley’s Temple team gave the then-No. 1 Lady Vols a scare in the first meeting, leaving Knoxville with a narrow 48-52 loss on Nov. 28, 2004. Tennessee was also the nation’s top team in the last meeting between the two high-profile coaches as the Lady Vols topped Temple 75-50 on Dec. 28, 2005, in Philadelphia.

A South Carolina Win Would …
• Be the Gamecocks’ first over a nationally-ranked team since topping then-No. 14 Minnesota 79-61 on Dec. 13, 2005, in Columbia.
• Be the Gamecocks’ first over a nationally-ranked SEC team since beating then-No. 13 Arkansas 83-59 on Feb. 16, 2003, in Columbia.
• Be head coach Dawn Staley’s first coaching win over a nationally-ranked team since she led Temple to a 48-47 victory at then-No. 9 Rutgers on Jan. 19, 2006 – the highest-ranked team she has defeated in her career.
• Be head coach Dawn Staley’s fourth against a nationally-ranked team in 26 outings.
• Be Dawn Staley’s first SEC win as a head coach in the league and her first win over Pat Summitt’s Tennessee team.

Staley Eclipsed the Summitt
As a player, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley got the better of Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt when it mattered most. Staley’s Virginia Cavaliers handed Summitt’s Lady Vols a 79-75 overtime loss in the 1990 NCAA East Regional final in Norfolk, Va. It was the first time the Cavaliers had reached the NCAA Final Four and prevented Tennessee from advancing to the event it was hosting. Staley, a sophomore, and the Cavaliers, who were the No. 2 seed in the East, fell in the national semifinal game 75-66 to the West’s No. 1 seed Stanford. Summitt exacted her revenge the following season when the Lady Vols knocked off the Cavaliers 70-67 in overtime in New Orleans.

Sending Out an SOS
Through games of Jan. 15, South Carolina is ranked 15th in the nation in strength of schedule (SOS). In the SEC, only Tennessee (1) has played a tougher schedule than the Gamecocks so far this season. The Gamecocks have a solid RPI as well, as their ranking of 61 slots in behind Tennessee (3), Auburn (14), Florida (16), LSU (35), Kentucky (42), Mississippi State (55) and Vanderbilt (60) in the SEC.

Students and Teacher
Today’s game brings South Carolina assistant coaches Carla McGhee and Nikki McCray back to their alma mater for the first time during their tenure at South Carolina. A 1995 Tennessee graduate, McGhee helped the Lady Vols to a pair of national championships (1987, 1989) before going on to play six years of professional basketball overseas and another eight years in the United States. McCray was a two-time All-American (1994, 1995) for the Lady Vols and immediately joined USA Basketball senior women’s national team upon graduation (1995), earning two Olympic gold medals in her time playing for the organization.

Gamecocks Face Final Four
South Carolina’s 2008-09 schedule includes all of the teams that played in the 2008 NCAA Women’s Final Four. Today’s game against the Lady Vols is the only one of the four outings played outside of Columbia as Stanford and Connecticut visited Colonial Life Arena in December and LSU visits later this month.

Answering to the D.A.
Senior Demetress Adams is sixth in the SEC with 7.4 rebounds per game and 21st in scoring at 11.4 points per outing. Adams grabbed double-digit boards in five of the Gamecocks’ first eight games this season, including two games of 12 rebounds (USC Upstate, Penn State), which helped her sit atop the conference rebound standings for much of the early season. Since then, it’s been largely Adams’ offense that has done damage to opponents. She has scored 14 or more points in seven of the last 11 games, including 19 against Charlotte and 17 against No. 9/8 Auburn in just 20 minutes on the floor.

Brionna’s Boom
Senior Brionna Dickerson continues her march up the SEC scoring standings, sitting in 14th place at 12.7 points per game after a season-high 20 points against No. 19 Florida Thursday night. She has reached double-figure points in all but three games this season and has scored 15 or more points eight times, including all three SEC contests. Earlier this season, Dickerson put together a similar three-game stretch that included both games of the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic and yielded Tournament MVP honors. In SEC play, Dickerson ranks fourth in the league with 19.3 points per game and ranks among the league’s most prolific 3-point shooters, hitting 40.9 percent from behind the arc (9-of-22) in her first three games to rank third and ranking third with 3.0 3-point field goals made per game. Dickerson’s 40.8 field goal percentage in league play is 15th-best in the conference.

Flashy Frosh
Freshman guard Lakeisha Sutton is at it again on the offensive end. After her offense surged during her three-game stretch in the starting lineup (Dec. 16-21), Sutton has returned to a reserve role since then but burst onto the SEC scene last week. She made her conference debut with 17 points against No. 9/8 Auburn then went to Georgia and netted 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. She cooled off a bit against No. 19 Florida, scoring seven points but matching her season high with five assists. Sutton set or tied four career highs at Georgia – field goal percentage (.857), rebounds (4), defensive rebounds (3) and assists (5). So far in SEC play, Sutton averages 14.0 points to rank 12th in the league, second among SEC freshmen. She is also among the SEC’s top 10 in assists per game (4.3, 9th) and steals (2.3, 5th) through the first three conference games.

It’s a Block Party!
After recording 55 blocked shots in 2007-08, the third-most in school history, senior Demetress Adams has continued her charge up the Gamecocks’ career blocked shots list with 16 so far this season. Currently alone in third place, she needs 14 more to reach Michelle Murray in second place.
Career Blocked Shots
1. 177 Lakesha Tolliver (2004-08)
2. 148 Michelle Murray (1989-93)
3. 135 Demetress Adams (2005-present)

Judging January
The Gamecocks are 162-161 all-time in the month of January. South Carolina’s best record in the first month of the year came in the 1979-80 season when the Gamecocks were 10-1. In January, Carolina is 99-68 at home, 50-85 on the road and a perfect 4-0 at a neutral site (17 games in the Gamecock history books do not indicate the site of the contest, during which Carolina is 9-8.) The Gamecocks are 1-3 so far in their schedule of eight January games this season.

The Adams Family
Senior Demetress Adams (Bishopville, S.C./Lee Central) is sixth in the SEC with 7.4 rebounds per game … leads the team and ranks 21st in the SEC with 11.4 points per game … is 14th in blocked shots (1.0 per game) … narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds against No. 19 Florida, adding a pair of blocked shots as well … moved into third place on the school career blocked shot list with her block at Georgia, giving her 133 in her career … has recorded four double-doubles this season and has been the team’s leading rebounder seven times … has scored in double figures 10 times, including eight games of 14 or more points … scored 17 points in just 20 foul-plagued minutes against No. 9/8 Auburn.

What Do You Serve With Brie?
Senior Brionna Dickerson (Columbia, S.C./Heathwood Hall) is second on the team and ranks 14th in the SEC with 12.7 points per game … is second in the league with 34.2 minutes played per game and 14th in 3-point fields made at 1.3 per game … has been the team’s leading scorer seven times and reached double-figure points in 13 games … averages 19.3 points in SEC play, fourth-best in the league … netted a season-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds against No. 19 Florida … scored 19 points at Georgia, her second-straight game at that number, hitting three 3-pointers … paced the squad with 19 points, including 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range, against No. 9/8 Auburn.

You Can Call Me Cocoa
Sophomore Lauren Falohun (Atlanta, Ga./Pace Academy) averages 3.1 points and 1.5 assists … hit her first bucket in SEC play, a 3-pointer, against No. 19 Florida.

The Kennedy Legacy
Sophomore Samone Kennedy (Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay) has started the last nine games … leads the team with 2.4 assists per game … added 11 points, including a 3-pointer early in the game, and dished three assists against No. 19 Florida … handed out three assists and swiped two steals to go with six points at Georgia … played the full 40 minutes for the first time in her career against No. 9/8 Auburn, handing out three assists against just one turnover and scoring seven points.

Jewel of the Nile
Sophomore Jewel May (Conyers, Ga./Heritage) has grabbed 5.8 rebounds per game, 19th-best in the SEC, to go with 5.3 points per outing … has led the team in rebounding five times this season … grabbed a game-high eight rebounds at Georgia, including four on the offensive end … added six points and five rebounds, including three offensive, against No. 9/8 Auburn despite playing just 26 minutes due to foul trouble.

A Newton of Force
Redshirt freshman Courtney Newton (Flowery Branch, Ga./Flowery Branch) has played in 11 games after missing the first two games with a right knee injury … hit the only shot she took, a 3-pointer, against No. 19 Florida.

Set the Pace
Senior C.J. Pace (Snellville, Ga./Chipola College) averages 6.3 points and 6.0 rebounds, 15th-best in the SEC on the glass … leads the team with 5.7 rebounds per game in SEC play … grabbed eight rebounds, including a career-high four on the offensive end, and handed out a career-high three assists against No. 19 Florida … led the team with seven rebounds and scored six points against No. 9/8 Auburn.

CSI: Columbia
Freshman Charenee Stephens (Decatur, Ga./Southwest DeKalb) has played in every game since making her season debut on Dec. 28 after sitting out the first 10 games for personal reasons … scored a season-high six points against No. 19 Florida, going 3-of-4 from the field … netted four points and matched her season high with four rebounds at Georgia, playing 19 minutes … scored her first career points with a pair of baskets against No. 9/8 Auburn while adding three rebounds to the effort.

Jersey Girl
Freshman Lakeisha Sutton (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) is the team’s third-highest scorer with 9.4 points per game … is 12th in the SEC with a .667 free-throw percentage … has scored in double figures eight times, including three games with 15 or more points … is second on the team with 14.0 points per game in SEC play to rank 12th in the league (second among SEC freshmen) … has handed out 4.3 assists per game against SEC opponents, ninth-best in the league … tied her season-high with five assists against No. 19 Florida, scoring seven points as well … sparked the offense late to finish with 18 points at Georgia, hitting 6-of-7 field goals to tie for fourth-best field goal percentage by a freshman in school history … poured in 17 points against No. 9/8 Auburn, including hitting 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.

Miranda Rights
Freshman Miranda Tate (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) is scoring 3.0 points per game … added a bucket at Georgia.

T Time
Freshman Tonia Williams (Warner Robins, Ga./Houston County) has come off the bench in five games this season.