A week ago the Lady Gamecocks saw their 31 game conference winning streak snapped by the Lady Vols. It was the second-longest streak in conference history. Dawn Staley’s team rebounded to beat a top 20 Kentucky team a few days later. Thursday afternoon they had a makeup game with Ole Miss and cruised to a 25 point victory. Now the Gamecocks prepare for an SEC title showdown with Texas A&M on Sunday. The top five match-up will determine the regular-season championship.
Lady Gamecocks Prepare for SEC Title Showdown
Staley’s program is looking for its second consecutive regular-season SEC title and their sixth in the last eight years. She has built this team into a perennial powerhouse. The recent success also brings high expectations and a standard that this year’s group is trying to live up to. A win on Sunday would help fulfill some of those lofty expectations. The loss to Tennessee put a dent in this program’s invulnerability. They went cold on offense and lost some intensity on defense in a poor second half. While the Gamecocks’ loss may have given some other SEC teams some hope, it also may have served as a wake-up call. South Carolina has looked dominant in their two games since.
Hot and Cold
While this team is having a very good year, there are still things to improve on. The Gamecocks have struggled on the offensive end in some games this season. Most of their issues stem from failing to convert close-range opportunities and poor free-throw shooting. They have the talent and size around the basket to be dominant in the paint, but in some games, they struggle to finish around the rim. This leads to some ill-timed droughts on offense. All three of their losses could be attributed to this, and it has made some of their wins closer than they should have been.
When they have it going they can run teams out of the gym. For the most part, Staley’s team has run good offense, sometimes it just comes down to converting the chances you create. They have the talent and depth to cause match-up problems for any opponent, as long as they avoid the scoring droughts. Outside shooting isn’t this team’s strong suit but if Zia Cooke or Destanni Henderson get going from the perimeter they are almost unbeatable.
SEC Title Time
Despite losing their conference winning streak, Staley’s Gamecocks are still in control of their own destiny. They are in good shape to be a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, and can still claim the SEC title with a win on Sunday. However, it won’t be easy. Texas A&M is 20-1 overall and will be fighting to claim the SEC title for themselves. South Carolina needs to be at its best to leave College Station with a victory and a trophy. They must be focused and connected on defense against a balanced Aggie team. Converting the easy baskets they create for themselves is also a must. March is upon us, and it’s time for the Gamecocks to go into championship mode. All their goals are in front of them, it’s up to them to play and execute well enough to achieve what they set out to at the beginning of the season.
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