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November 18, 2012
VIDEO: Dawn Staley
CLEMSON LADY TIGERS (0-2)
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (3-0)
When: 3 p.m. today
Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia
Tickets: Available at the box office
Clemson's probable starters: G Chelsea Lindsay 5-6 So. (4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg); G Nikki Dixon 5-10 So. (9.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg); G Danaejah Grant 5-10 Fr. (13.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg); F Jonquel Jones 6-4 Fr. (12.0 ppg, 13.5 rpg); F Quinyotta Pettaway 6-3 Jr. (9.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
South Carolina's probable starters: G Ieasia Walker 5-8 Sr. (11.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg); G Sancheon White 5-10 Sr. (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg); G Tiffany Mitchell 5-7 Fr. (11.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg); F Aleighsa Welch 6-0 So. (11.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg); F Ashley Bruner 6-0 Sr. (16.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
Notes: South Carolina finishes a quick two-game homestand before traveling abroad for a three-game tournament. Coach Dawn Staley has never begun a season 4-0 at USC. Clemson leads the overall series 33-24 but USC has won the last two. Despite a No. 16 recruiting class, Clemson has struggled out of the gate, losing to Presbyterian and USF. The Lady Tigers also lost an exhibition game to an Anderson team that USC blew away by 57 points. Only three players from the teams played in the matchup two years ago - Bruner, Walker and Clemson's Chancie Dunn. Admission to the game is $1. The first 300 fans will receive a "Beat Clemson" T-shirt. ... The Gamecocks received two votes in this week's Associated Press Top 25 and 30 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25.
Next game: USC plays Hampton in the first round of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday.
Wilka "Wi-Wi" Montout didn't have a lot of rivalry basketball games, growing up in French Guiana. There was a rivalry when she came to the United States and played at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, but she found out exactly what "rivalry" meant when she transferred to South Carolina.
"I remember one day, I went to the office and I was wearing an orange jersey, and they were like, 'You know that you're wearing the enemy color?,'" Montout said on Friday. "I didn't know.
"Now I know."
Indeed. Orange is not only unacceptable for USC students, it may mean a five-game suspension for student-athletes.
Another entry into the long-running USC-Clemson rivalry is added today when the Lady Tigers (0-2) come to play basketball against Montout and the Gamecocks (3-0). While women's basketball may not rank very high among the general fan base at USC - especially with a little ol' football game on the horizon - coach Dawn Staley and Clemson coach Itoro Coleman don't feel that way.
It's another chance for braggin' rights, another game that may not mean anything come March but is certainly a hat-hanger within the locker room for a year. Staley got her first two wins in the rivalry matchup over the past two years, and can rise above .500 against the Lady Tigers for the first time today, as well as improve to 4-0 as USC coach for the first time.
Perhaps that's why practice was a little frustrating on Friday. Staley spent a good bit of it detailing how if USC wasn't ready, Clemson could come in and kick the Gamecocks' hindparts. The Lady Tigers may be 0-2 - including a loss to Presbyterian, and not including a stunning exhibition loss to an Anderson team that the Gamecocks crushed 88-31 - but they still have two players in double figures and two more at a crisp nine points per game.
Previous records don't win games, but brushing them aside may very well lose them.
"Clemson will probably be our toughest competition to date," Staley said. "We want them to make sure we prepare them and they understand that it's not going to be an easy contest.
"(The Tigers are) not playing their best basketball and part of it is because they're young. They got some players that are making an immediate impact and they're trying to find their way. I think two losses will help you get to that point quickly."
USC has won its first three games by an average of nearly 30 points per contest, but was working hard in practice on Friday. The Gamecocks had a lapse in their previous game against Savannah State, letting those Lady Tigers get back into a game after USC jumped to a 16-2 lead, and Staley doesn't want a repeat.
There's been the basketball instruction, and also the rivalry instruction. There will be no taking it easy today.
"I just asked them that today in film," Staley said. "Everybody but Wi-Wi knew about the rivalry. Asia (Dozier) gave a little rendition of something that she heard that heightened the rivalry. I don't know if it's true or not so I'm not going to repeat it.
"I think they understand the rivalry, I think they understand they're a formidable opponent. If we don't come to play, they can beat us."
Montout will get her first taste of being in the rivalry, after just hearing about it. She already has a feel of what the two in-state neighbors keep in their heads, 365 days per year.
"Since the summer, everybody's been saying that Clemson's the big rival," Montout said. "Watching the soccer team play Clemson, and the volleyball team, it was high temperatures. I think the fact that we're playing Clemson makes it more high-intensity. But practice is always high-intensity anyway."
DAVIS UPDATE: Freshman Tiffany Davis did not practice on Friday after sustaining a right knee injury during the previous night's win over Savannah State. Davis was at the practice facility on crutches with her knee braced and Staley classified the injury as a sprain.
Davis visited with doctors on Friday but there was no prognosis. Staley said that Davis would "probably not" play today.
Sophomore forward Elem Ibiam, who has missed two games after being knocked in the head in practice prior to the Louisiana Tech game, has been cleared to play and will be ready for today's game. The Gamecocks will have a nine-woman team.
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