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Davis, Coates lead No. 6 South Carolina past Vanderbilt

221 days ago
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 6 South Carolina shook off any possible Connecticut hangover with a 82-51 victory over Vanderbilt on Thursday night.

The game looked just like it did on paper -- the Southeastern Conference's best team playing its worst, which was just what the Gamecocks (22-3, 12-1) needed after a 66-55 loss that marked the No. 1 Huskies 100th straight victory.

South Carolina outscored Vanderbilt 50-10 in the paint. The Commodores (12-14, 2-11) had 20 turnovers and made 12 shots from the field -- the second time in SEC play a team has had fewer field goals than turnovers against South Carolina.

The Gamecocks also saw a marked improvement in guard play, which sank them in the loss against the Huskies. Davis was 1 for 10 with five turnovers at UConn on Monday night, but went 6 for 14 with no turnovers against Vanderbilt.

"I'm finding a way to get easier shots and not put so much pressure on making 3s," Davis said.

The Gamecocks never trailed, opening the game on a 20-3 run. South Carolina led 23-6 at the end of the first quarter, as the Commodores had 10 turnovers and attempted just 10 shots in the first 10 minutes.

Coates also had seven rebounds. A'ja Wilson added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Gamecocks.

Christa Reed led Vanderbilt with 11 points.

South Carolina clinched a double bye in next month's SEC tournament with the win.

THE BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt: After losing their first seven SEC games under new coach Stephanie White, the Commodores had won two of their last five before running into the South Carolina buzz saw. Vanderbilt will have to win at least two of its final three games to avoid playing on the opening day of the 14-team SEC tournament for the third straight season.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks can still win at least a share of their fourth SEC regular season title in a row by simply winning their final three SEC games. But that's not an easy task. South Carolina finishes the season at Missouri, at Texas A&M and hosting Kentucky -- three of the SEC's five best teams. Former Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb, who resigned after 14 years with the Commodores at the end of last season, was in her familiar seat behind the Gamecocks bench. She is South Carolina's director of coaching offensive analytics.

FORGET CONNECTICUT

South Carolina's loss to Connecticut didn't mess up any of Gamecocks' goals. Winning out earns an SEC regular season title. Win the league tournament -- another goal -- and South Carolina likely heads into the NCAA tournament with a top seed, giving them a better chance at making just the second Final Four in program history.

"You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, especially with a pride win," Staley said.

SOUTH CAROLINA STANDARD

The standard in SEC women's basketball used to be Tennessee. Now it is South Carolina.

White said she is using the South Carolina blueprint to improve Vanderbilt and plans to talk to Staley extensively during the offseason.

Staley's first South Carolina team in 2008-09 went 2-12 in the SEC. And White, who left the WNBA's Indiana Fever to come to the Commodores, said she also wants Vanderbilt to emulate South Carolina's atmosphere. The Gamecocks averaged less than 3,000 fans in Staley's first season and are drawing more than 13,000 people to games this season.

"It was awesome," White said of the lively crowd. "I told my players, this is why we play the game for this kind of crowd, whether they are cheering or against you."

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt: The Commodores host Mississippi on Sunday.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks head to Missouri on Sunday.