It may not have the same luster as the football rivalry, but any time you get to play your in-state rival is worth watching. But as South Carolina continues its ascent up the women’s basketball hierarchy, one wonders if some of the more upper-echelon teams - i.e. UConn - could be considered more of a rival than the Tigers are.
In any event, it’s South Carolina vs. Clemson, and the Palmetto State bragging rights are still up for grabs. South Carolina has held the edge in recent years as they haven’t lost to the Tigers in six tries. That dates back to a 94-92 overtime loss at Littlejohn Coliseum on November 19, 2010, Staley’s second season at the helm of the program and the second of back-to-back wins for Clemson in the annual series. But other than getting blown out of Colonial Life Arena in 2013, though, the Tigers always seem to play the Gamecocks relatively close.
The Tigers are looking like a team on the upswing as they seek their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002. At 8-1, they’re already a win shy of matching their total from last year; their one loss came against then-#25 Oregon on December 12. The woman on the other sideline is very familiar to Staley: Audra Smith was her teammate at Virginia from 1989-1992 and was part of a team that advanced to three straight Women’s Final Fours during that stretch. Smith and Staley’s friendship has stretched for nearly three decades, and seeing the two face off on the hardwood is always a special occasion.
Clemson’s leading scorer is Nelly Perry. Perry, a junior, has shown steady improvement during her tenure, averaging 13.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. They’ve gotten some strong contributions off the bench from Aliyah Collier (11.1 ppg/7.9 rpg) as well. This is a team that won’t hurt you from outside: they only shoot about 30% from three.
Start time: 7pm | TV: SEC Network | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Columbia) | Live audio: Gamecock IMG Sports Network