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February 27, 2014

WBB hoops preview: UGA

South Carolina (25-2, 13-1 SEC) will look to clinch the outright SEC Championship when it plays host to Georgia (18-9, 6-8) on Thursday night. Admission is free for Gamecock Club and My Carolina Alumni Association members.

Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Colonial Life Arena
TV: None (live video on GamecocksOnline.com)

What to watch for:
The fourth-ranked Gamecocks have already clinched at least a share of their first-ever SEC Championship. With a win Thursday night over Georgia or Sunday afternoon at No. 10 Tennessee, the Gamecocks would clinch the title outright. That would make them the number one seed in the SEC Tournament. They could still clinch the title outright if Tennessee and Texas A&M both lose another game, but certainly the Gamecocks would rather control their own fate, and Georgia at home is a less-formidable foe than trying to steal a win in Knoxville.

Georgia started the season on a tear, winning its first 11 games and rising to No. 15 in the polls. But the Bulldogs slumped badly and started conference play 0-4, the worst start in program history. They have righted the ship since then, going 6-4 with wins over Florida (twice), Kentucky, and LSU. However, they have also mixed in losses to the bottom of the SEC. Sophomore guard Shacobia Barbee leads the Bulldogs in scoring (13.0 ppg), rebounding (8.3 rpg), assists (3.5 apg), and steals (2.7 spg). Barbee leads the SEC in steals. Fellow guard Erika Ford has been on a tear lately, averaging 17.3 ppg over Georgia's last six.

Notes:
* Before the game, South Carolina will recognize center Wilka Montout as part of Senior Day. Montout is the only senior on the roster, and has played in all but three games this season. She is averaging 1.7 points per game and 1.8 rebounds per game in about nine minutes of action per game.

* Before the game, the Gamecocks will also recognize junior forward Aleighsa Welch for scoring 1,000 career points and junior center Elem Ibiam for setting the single-season school record for blocks (69). The ceremonies will begin about 20 minutes before tipoff.

*A win would give South Carolina a 16-0 home record this season. That would be the most wins in a season at Colonial Life Arena, and the second time in program history the Gamecocks were undefeated at home. In 1978-79, the Gamecocks were 11-0 at home. Home games that season were split between the Carolina Coliseum and Blatt P.E. Center.

* Earlier this month, South Carolina moved in to the top five of the AP poll for the first time since Jan. 10, 1982. In program history, South Carolina has spent 15 weeks in the AP top five. The highest ranking in school history was #2, held for three weeks in December, 1981.

* Georgia leads the all-time series with South Carolina 33-7. Three of those losses came during the Dawn Staley era, but the Bulldogs also have seven wins over Staley, and took last year's meeting 42-40.

Quick hits:
Alaina Coates has eight double-doubles this season and needs one more to tie Kelsey Bone for the USC freshman record… Coates already has the freshman record for blocks in a season with 54, also the fifth most in a season in program history… The first two games in the South Carolina-Georgia series were played in 1976 and 1978 in Rock Hill. The teams split the games… South Carolina has averaged 5,965 fans per game this season, third-most in the SEC and 11th in the country.


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