The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks ready for Palmetto Showdown in Clemson

<p>Sophomore A'ja Wilson took home SEC Player of the Week Honors after two double-doubles last week.</p>
Sophomore A'ja Wilson took home SEC Player of the Week Honors after two double-doubles last week.

The No. 2 South Carolina women’s basketball team will be on the move after back-to-back home games.

The Gamecocks head to Clemson Wednesday for a showdown with the 1-1 Tigers in Jervey Gym. The Tigers snuck away with a 43-36 win against Charleston Southern, but lost 63-47 to Coastal Carolina on Sunday.

The game will be the first of five-straight road games for the Gamecocks, concluding with a three-game tournament in Waikiki, Hawaii.

Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson, SEC Player of the Week, will enter Jervey Gym boasting a 2-0 record after squeaking out a close win over No. 6 Ohio State and blowing out the UNCG, both inside of Colonial Life Arena in front of near-capacity crowds.

Wilson averaged 19.5 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game in just 38 total minutes last week. Her six blocks against UNCG matched her career high, though she played just 17 minutes. This week, Wilson proved why she was the nation’s top recruit last season, as she is playing as well as any player in the country.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore has been terrorizing opponents, using her height to take lobs inside and get the layup or the foul. Of her 24 rebounds, 11 have been on the offensive glass, many on her own misses.

The Gamecocks have averaged 90 points a game and will face a Clemson team that has scored a total of 90 in two games. The Tigers, to their credit, have only allowed 49.5 points per game at home.

The Gamecocks will likely use their superb post players to outclass the Tigers, whose leading rebounder is 5-foot-7 guard Danielle Edwards. While Edwards is averaging 12 boards per game, she will not be able to compete with Wilson and the other taller Gamecock post players such as junior center Alaina Coates and senior forward Sarah Imovbioh.

Imovbioh, who transferred from Virginia, has been a welcome addition for the Gamecocks. The senior from Nigeria is averaging a double-double with 11 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, including a total of eight on the offensive glass.

Imovbioh, Wilson, Coates and senior guard Tiffany Mitchell are all averaging double-digit points through the first two games, and the Gamecocks will lean heavily on those four along with senior role players guard Khadijah Sessions and guard/forward Asia Dozier to lead as the team gets into the season.

Mitchell, Coates and Wilson are all on the Wooden Award watch list. UConn also has three players on the 30-player list, tied for most in the country with the Gamecocks.

While the Tigers hold the all-time lead in the Palmetto Series, 33-27, the Gamecocks have dominated in recent years. Undefeated against Clemson in the last five years under head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks won by a series-record 58 points last season.

Barring an unforeseen collapse, the Gamecocks will extend their five-game winning streak over the Tigers Wednesday night. They will then fly west for a showdown with UCLA in Los Angeles on Sunday. The road trip will conclude with the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown from Nov. 27 to 29.