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  • Mechelle VoepelESPN.com

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      Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, ladies’s college basketball, and diversified college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering ladies’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

Junior guard Zia Cooke acknowledged South Carolina coach Damage of day Staley was exquisite nonetheless in the route of her halftime speech in Monday’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship recreation in opposition to UConn in the Bahamas.

“She appropriate gave us just a few plays that she concept would work for us,” acknowledged Cooke, whose prime-ranked Gamecocks trailed by three aspects at the fracture. “She suggested us we were in the recreation. She kept us all motivated.”

And per chance Staley merely reminded the Gamecocks that they are a terribly honest crew. They confirmed that in rallying to beat UConn 73-57, giving South Carolina its first victory in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in program historical previous after going 0-4 in these video games previously.

The Gamecocks displayed a resilience that most groups don’t in opposition to UConn. South Carolina was down as great as 13 in the first half of, which on the whole is a substantial misfortune zone for Huskies opponents. After they discover a double-digit lead, it is very exhausting to reel them in. The Gamecocks crop the deficit to 36-33 by halftime.

Their 2d-half of defense was a health heart, keeping UConn to 21 aspects over the two quarters. The Gamecocks crop down on their turnovers, which helped restrict UConn’s transition recreation, and they took natty photos.

South Carolina is now 6-0 with three victories over prime-10 groups NC Stammer, Oregon and UConn. The Gamecocks have two extra prime-10 matchups in December — vs. Maryland on Dec. 12 and Stanford on Dec. 21 — after which they meet UConn all over again on Jan. 27 when the Huskies search recommendation from Columbia, South Carolina, for a rematch.

Right here is the whole lot we learned from Monday’s recreation and the strategy this can even honest have an impression on the Gamecocks and Huskies going forward.

South Carolina’s defense wears groups down

And ought to that you just would possibly well also manufacture that to UConn, that you just would possibly well also manufacture it to any one. We all know the strategy honest the Gamecocks have been at that cease of the court docket, but Staley defined that it be not appropriate the glaring plays South Carolina made (comparable to 11 steals) but the cumulative discontinuance.

“Our defense did a unparalleled job for 40 minutes,” Staley acknowledged. “You didn’t finally watch the impression in the first half of. The third and fourth quarters are ought to you open feeling what our defense does to groups.”

Does Staley think this crew’s defense, resulting from its depth, is the most effective she has ever had? Is it greater, as an illustration, than the defense of the 2017 crew that obtained the national championship and had players admire A’ja Wilson, Alaina Coates, Tyasha Harris and Allisha Grey?

This crew has Aliyah Boston, who had 22 aspects and 15 rebounds, Brea Beal, Victaria Saxton, Destanni Henderson, Laeticia Amihere, Kamilla Cardoso and Cooke — everyone on the roster contributes to the defense.

“You’re going to discover me in a little bit of little bit of peril,” Staley joked of having to get one group over one other, “but yes, that is the most effective and the deepest.”

UConn’s 21 aspects in the 2d half of — 3 in the fourth quarter — acknowledged all of it.

“Their defense — they were very aggressive, obviously,” UConn guard Christyn Williams acknowledged. “And we appropriate weren’t making the most effective reads at the most effective space at the most effective time.”

UConn has work to manufacture on offense, severely within

Yes, it be appropriate one recreation. However the Huskies beat South Florida 60-53 on Sunday. It be the first time since 2012 that UConn has been held to 60 aspects or fewer in consecutive video games.

UConn got 43 of its 57 aspects Monday from its starting guards: Paige Bueckers (19), Evina Westbrook (14) and Williams (10). Beginning forwards Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa mixed for 12 aspects on 6-of-10 taking pictures from the self-discipline.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma acknowledged that having junior forward Aubrey Griffin (out with injury) would have helped. But he acknowledged this was extra an execution self-discipline than a personnel self-discipline.

The Huskies benefited from South Carolina turnovers and misses in the first half of to realize in transition. But when the Gamecocks tightened up on mistakes in the 2d half of, UConn wasn’t as honest in half of-court docket execution. A bunch of credit ranking, as already acknowledged, goes to a stifling South Carolina defense.

“I believe in the fourth quarter, severely, we appropriate would possibly well perchance not finally discover in a traipse alongside with the stagger offensively, and it was appropriate subtle for us,” Westbrook acknowledged. “We knew what we were doing, but we appropriate would possibly well perchance not finally discover into it.”

Geno is going to be Geno

Requested about Bueckers’ performance — she was 8-of-19 from the bottom, with 5 rebounds and 7 assists — Auriemma sounded harsh to these much less conscious of the UConn mentor’s methods.

“I don’t think she was any honest at the moment, to be correct with you,” he acknowledged. “The major half of, there were just a few unparalleled moments that she had. But for the whole 2d half of, I don’t think she was great of a component. I do not know whether she appropriate got drained, she was broken-down down. But it completely wasn’t the the same Paige we’re passe to seeing.”

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UConn’s Paige Bueckers gets the ball in transition and drops in the easy floater.

Fascinated by she performed 38 minutes Monday and was quiet the Huskies’ chief in scoring and assists, and tied for the lead in rebounds, Bueckers was not continuously a self-discipline. But that is half of Auriemma’s formula — which is time-examined and has been a hit with so many alternative stars — in growing unparalleled players. They discover challenged — substantial-time.

Auriemma desires Bueckers to in truth watch the loss and watch what she will even have done greater. It be appropriate admire in be conscious, when he’s known to position his crew in very unlikely cases, admire 5-on-8, appropriate to tag how his players reply.

Auriemma even contradicted himself barely by additionally announcing that the Huskies were “finally, finally honest” for 30 minutes earlier than issues declined in the fourth quarter. Bueckers would possibly well perchance not have been that corrupt if her crew was regarded as “finally, finally honest” for 3-fourths of the recreation. Auriemma additionally talked about the necessity for one other perimeter taking pictures threat to blossom to encourage Bueckers, acknowledging she had plenty on her shoulders. UConn made appropriate three 3-pointers Monday: two from Westbrook and one from Bueckers.

Legendary UConn level guard Sue Chicken tells the story of how Auriemma suggested her earlier than her sophomore season, “The leisure that we manufacture unfriendly is going to be your fault.” It was his approach to appealing to her leadership, and it worked spectacularly. Bueckers is dealing with a the same roughly Auriemma motivational tactic, and she or he is conscious of it.

South Carolina’s bench on the whole is a beast

We talked about how the Gamecocks’ depth helps their defense. However the bench is an asset the whole manner around, as we noticed Monday. The 11 aspects and 10 rebounds the Gamecocks got from their reserves made a distinction.

The 6-foot-7 Cardoso and the 6-5 Amihere provide disruptive measurement and measurement, and they look to settle for their roles. They’d be starting on just a few groups, but it be a substantial plus for the Gamecocks to have them attain off the bench.

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South Carolina’s Destiny Littleton knocks down a 3-pointer leisurely in the third quarter to give the Gamecocks the lead.

Same for guard Destiny Littleton, who hit two of South Carolina’s five 3-pointers. There have been cases in the previous in opposition to UConn when the Gamecocks appropriate would possibly well perchance not discover great going from long fluctuate, which made defending them less complicated.

This crew would not basically need plenty from out there, but it does need the threat. And Littleton is without doubt one of the players who can provide it.

“They were appropriate on the whole collapsed in the paint, brave us to shoot it or power downhill. It was just a few cluster in there,” Staley acknowledged. “So we needed to figure out a mode to discover somebody in there that can even hit a shot. We all know Destiny Littleton isn’t very terrified about taking any commence watch.”

Staley praised Littleton for staying ready after she didn’t play great in South Carolina’s two outdated Battle 4 Atlantis video games; she was in for 10 minutes in opposition to Buffalo and six in opposition to Oregon. She performed 15 minutes in opposition to UConn.

“A participant admire that can perchance pout, and she or he didn’t,” Staley acknowledged. “You heard her the closing two video games calling out the plays and the strategy we ought to defend. She appropriate stayed ready. The topic [Monday] known as for her to head out there and stretch the bottom. I am unparalleled-chuffed; that is going to be a self assurance booster for her.”

It be a disgrace that freshman guard Raven Johnson is lost for the season with a knee injury. She would have made the bench even deeper. But it completely’s quiet a substantial weapon as is.

We are succesful of watch ahead to the rematch

With Boston’s dominance as a post, the elite two-method attack of Cooke and Henderson at guard, and discover-the-dirty-work-done nature of guard Beal and forward Saxton, the Gamecocks have a extraordinarily cohesive starting five, alongside with the aforementioned bench. South Carolina has challenges stacked up in both the nonconference and SEC schedules, and that’s the reason appropriate what Staley desires.

Meanwhile, UConn faces two ranked opponents subsequent month, because the Huskies traipse back and forth to Georgia Tech on Dec. 9 and host Louisville on Dec. 19, plus the annual showdown with currently unranked but undefeated Notre Dame on Dec. 5. After Broad East play starts, UConn will have marquee nonconference video games at Oregon on Jan. 17, at South Carolina on Jan. 27 and in opposition to Tennessee on Feb. 6.

That rematch with the Gamecocks — at what’s definite to be a packed Colonial Existence Arena in Columbia, South Carolina — would possibly well be a honest gauge as to how these groups have improved on methods to their last goal of winning the national championship.

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