Before the final whistle even blew Thursday night, ending South Carolina women’s basketball’s 90-42 rout of Arkansas, Gamecock fans on social media already were getting revved up for the next game.
After all, the next game won’t be just another SEC matchup. It will be the first time No. 9 USC will have the chance to avenge one of its three losses this season, against No. 11 Missouri.
And that loss, which came on Jan. 8 on Mizzou’s home court, was not like the Gamecocks’ other two defeats on the year, to Notre Dame and Tennessee. Coach Dawn Staley was ejected for the first time in years after picking up two technical fouls. Star forward A’ja Wilson also left early, fouling out and posting her worst statistical performance of the season. And the Tigers’ aggressive, physical play infuriated South Carolina supporters, who accused coach Robin Pingeton’s team of playing dirty.
So unsurprisingly, fans have had Sunday, Jan. 28, the day the Gamecocks and Tigers face off again, this time at Colonial Life Arena, circled on their calendars, so much so that Staley has had to remind them to act like her players and stay focused on the Arkansas game first.
As soon as that Arkansas game ended, however, the questions about Mizzou began, and Wilson gave her take on the situation and what is sure to be a raucous environment.
“My goal for that game is to win, of course,” Wilson said Thursday night. “We’re not going to attack or be more hyped for anything. We’re just going to take it all in and do us. I think that’s our main focus for this game and for every game, is just doing us and just staying within our system.
On Friday, Wilson spoke further on what she took away from that game, with the benefit of having watched film from it.
“I learned that I just can’t give into things. I have to continue to play and be there for my team. And I feel like the last foul I got, I got it selfishly. And that’s not me. So I’m not going to be selfish,” Wilson said.
The possibility of Mizzou coming in and again trying to force her into foul trouble while also attacking her with swarming defense is very real, Wilson said, but having gone through it once, she said her discipline has improved.
“I mean it’s very frustrating,” Wilson said of the aggressive defense the Tigers deployed against her. “But it’s part of the game. It’s just one of those games that you gotta push through. I learned from that game, I learned a lot from that game. I’m going to take what I learned from that game and hopefully make a difference this Sunday.”
South Carolina and Missouri face off Sunday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Greg Hadley: @GregHadley9