Every team goes through it, and every champion as well.
The season gets to February and players are getting ragged. Coaches try to work through it as best they can, but the schedule still throws a few curveballs that get them swinging from the heels.
Fourth-ranked South Carolina faces the last at-bat of a long week Sunday as it travels to Arkansas. The Gamecocks played Monday night, a departure from their usual Sunday afternoon time, then went to Kentucky Thursday.
That trip had some extra time built in, since the plane was re-routed to Louisville when the airport lights weren’t on. But USC was back in Columbia late Thursday night, then back on a plane Saturday for the trip to Fayetteville.
Tired? Sure. But it’s all adrenaline this time of year, especially as the Gamecocks are chasing their fourth consecutive SEC regular-season championship.
“It’s a tough week for us, but we knew it was coming,” coach Dawn Staley said after the win at Kentucky. “So when you know something’s coming, you can plan for it.”
The Gamecocks didn’t practice Friday. They had a light run-through Saturday and shootarounds once in Arkansas.
The plan is to take care of business and get back home, where a relatively easy week awaits. Only one game – at home Thursday against Auburn – is on the slate.
Before traveling the next Monday to No. 1 Connecticut.
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Who: No. 4 South Carolina (19-2, 9-1 SEC) at Arkansas (13-9, 2-7)
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bud Walton Arena; Fayetteville, Ark.
TV: ESPN2 Radio: 107.5 FM
South Carolina’s probable starters: G Ty Harris 5-10 Fr. (5.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg); G Allisha Gray 6-0 Jr. (13.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg); G Kaela Davis 6-2 Jr. (12.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg); F A’ja Wilson 6-5 Jr. (16.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg); C Alaina Coates 6-4 Sr. (13.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg)
Arkansas’ probable starters: G Jailyn Mason 5-9 Fr. (8.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg); G Malica Monk 5-5 So. (9.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg); F Bailey Zimmerman 6-0 So. (4.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg); F Jessica Jackson 6-3 Sr. (15.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg); C Kiara Williams 6-1 Fr. (3.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Next game: South Carolina hosts Auburn at 7 p.m. on Thursday