Date: Thursday, January 19, 2012
Time: 7 p.m. (ET)
Location: Auburn, Ala.
Arena: Auburn Arena (9,121)
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com
Auburn Series: AU leads 20-15; In Auburn: AU leads 11-5; In Columbia: SC leads 9-7; At Neutral Site: AU leads 2-1
A week ago, the South Carolina women's basketball team was riding high. After a 14-2 start to the season and a perfect 3-0 start to conference play, the Gamecocks had a chance to knock off two of the undefeated teams and sit atop the SEC standings.
Things did not quite end up the way they wanted it to.
Despite leading at the half in both games – and holding a nine point lead midway through the second half against Kentucky – Carolina dropped both games and finds themselves in the midst of their first losing streak of the season. Instead of entering this week in sole possession of first place in the conference, the Gamecocks are in a logjam of teams in the middle of the pack.
"We just have to get back on the right track," head coach Dawn Staley said. "I think the last two games we of got off track, a little bit undisciplined and uncharacteristic of our team. A lot of it had to do with how people have been playing us, so we have to take care of the ball a little bit better, but then our defense has to step up."
It's not hard to find where Carolina went off track last week. The Gamecocks turned the ball over 54 times against LSU and Kentucky after averaging under 14 turnovers a game in the previous 14 games.
"The mistakes that we made are correctable and we have been working on those things, but if you look at both games, we were in both games," Staley said. "I know Kentucky did some things to disrupt us, even still we put ourselves in position to have the lead with 10 minutes left in the game. Barring some turnovers at the end we had a shot at winning both games."
Carolina will now turn its attention towards an Auburn team that has struggled early in the conference season against some stiff competition. The Tigers are off to a 1-4 start, but its losses are to Tennessee, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. With a match-up at Vanderbilt looming Sunday afternoon, this is a game this team needs to win.
"This is a team that is strong, the team chemistry is strong," Staley said. "When you drop two the morale can get a little low, but for this particular basketball team you don't have to jolt them back into the team that won 14 games this season."
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