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January 4, 2014
WBB preview: Vanderbilt
The 13th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (13-1, 1-0) return to Columbia today to open the SEC home slate against Vanderbilt (12-2, 1-0).
Time: 1 p.m.
What to watch for:
Free-throw shooting has been a concern for the Gamecocks all season. With strong post play from Aleighsa Welch, Alaina Coates and Elem Ibiam, they have shot more than 200 more free throws than theeir opponents. However, the Gamecocks are making only 63.8 percent of their attempts.
Vanderbilt holds a commanding 21-9 edge in the all-time series with South Carolina, including an 8-6 edge in Columbia. South Carolina has won the last three meetings, its longest streak in series history. Vanderbilt enters the game playing well. The Commodores have won nine straight games and upset Georgia in their conference opener. Vanderbilt is paced by seniors Christina Foggie (18.3 points per game) and Jasmine Lister (15.6 points per game).
Sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell has emerged as South Carolina's leading scorer, averaging 15.1 points per game to lead four players in double figures. Mitchell has scored 15 or more points in eight of the last nine games, is shooting better the 50 percent from the floor, and is one of the few Gamecocks shooting at a decent clip from the free throw line (.714).
"We're not ready to put her out there," Dawn Staley said. "We want her to be available for the long haul."
* Tiffany Davis has started at point guard during Sessions' absence.
Vanderbilt is without freshman Rebeka Dahlman. Dahlman was averaging 11.4 points per game and shooting 51.4 percent on threes when she was sidelined. Dahlman underwent two procedure to treat a blood clot.
* South Carolina inked four commits during the early signing period. Point guard Bianca Cuevas (Bronx, N.Y./Nazareth Regional), the number 44 prospect in the country according to ESPNW, signed her National Letter of Intent. Cuevas joins signees Doniyah Cliney (guard, Newark, N.J./Malcolm X Shabazz, number 105), Kaydra Duckett (guard, Columbia, S.C./Dreher, number 32), Jatarie White (center, Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day, number seven). The Gamecocks' recruiting class is currently ranked fourth by ESPNW, and they are still in play for number one overall recruit A'ja Wilson. Wilson attends Heathwood Hall in Columbia.
After Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks next game will be Thursday, January 9, at home against sixth-ranked Kentucky. That game could have huge implications for conference standings and ultimately NCAA seeding.
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