Another day, another ranked opponent for the #3 South Carolina Gamecocks. Tonight’s foe: Karen Aston’s Texas Longhorns (only the second all-time meeting between the two), who fell 79-68 to #10 Mississippi State in Starkville last Sunday before recovering with a 86-39 beatdown of Northwestern State last Wednesday. Like the Gamecocks, the Longhorns are in a tough stretch of their own as #2 UConn and #22 Tennessee follow this game.
Tonight is another chance for the entire country to take a look at a team that is looking to get back to the Women’s Final Four after a disappointing exit in the Sweet 16 last season. Things have been far from disappointing for the ladies so far, as they are fresh off an 83-59 win against a stingy Louisville team. In fact, since giving up 80 to Ohio State, the Gamecocks have allowed just over 44 points a contest. That’s coupled with 87.8 points scored per game, eighth in the country.
The Gamecocks have gotten the bulk of their offense from four of their starters - Alaina Coates (16.6), Allisha Gray (16.0), Kaela Davis (15.4) and A’ja WIlson (14.0). But the bench play of freshman Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (9.0 ppg) can’t be understated. Herbert Harrigan scored 11 points in 17 minutes in the Louisville game, and if she continues with the pace she’s on (and the team is unable to get consistent play out of Bianca Cuevas-Moore), then she’ll be in line for more time on the court.
Texas is led by All-Big 12 first team pick Brooke McCarty (16.3 ppg) and all-conference second team selection Ariel Atkins (13.5 ppg). The Longhorns, like Louisville, force a good deal of turnovers (81 through four games), so valuing the ball like they did the other day against the Cards should give the Gamecocks a measure of success. Texas also has Jataire White, a junior transfer from South Carolina, on their roster.