In Sunday afternoon action, the Lady Gamecocks continued to dominate the SEC, this time with a 67-49 home romp over the Arkansas Razorbacks. While the Lady Gamecocks were effective offensively, stifling defense was the story of the day. Arkansas's Jessica Jackson entered the contest as the SEC's leading scorer, but she went home humbled after going 1-12 from the field against Carolina. The Lady Gamecocks on the whole kept Arkansas below .300 from the field, the second time they achieved that feat this season in their two games against the Lady Razorbacks. Carolina post stalwart Aleighsa Welch led the way with 16 points and a career-best five blocks. Welch's performance lent to her being selected as SEC Co-Player of the Week.
The win helped South Carolina maintain its grip on the top spot in the SEC. The Lady Gamecocks sport a 10-1 conference record. Both Tennessee and Texas A&M have two losses. With LSU and Florida next in line with four losses, it appears unlikely that the conference champ will be a team other than USC, TAMU, or UT.
South Carolina got more good news today when the AP polls were announced. The Lady Gamecocks came in at five. Undefeated UConn and Notre Dame remain the top-ranked teams, while Duke and Louisville came in at three and four. This is the best ranking Carolina women's hoops has achieved since it rose to second in the land during the 1981-82 season. The Lady Blue Devils lost this evening to North Carolina, meaning that USC will have an opportunity to rise another spot if it can survive a tough weekend road test at LSU. The Lady Tigers come in at 19th this week.
Beginning with that trip to LSU, things get distinctly harder for Carolina. USC finishes at LSU, at Kentucky, vs. Florida, vs. UGA, and at UT. The road games are all against ranked teams, while the home opponents are no slouches, either. If the Lady Gamecocks achieve the unlikely feat of winning their final five and then perform well in the SEC Tournament, they would have an excellent shot at nabbing a number-one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Such a finish would not only give USC an excellent shot at a deep tourney run but would also provide momentum to close on a recruiting class that would likely make USC a consistent national title contender for the next few years.