What can the USC women’s basketball newcomers bring to the team?
South Carolina women’s basketball unveiled its full 2019-2020 schedule on Wednesday, highlighted by matchups with defending national champion Baylor, perennial powerhouses UConn and Maryland and in-conference rivals Mississippi State and Missouri.
Baylor ended USC’s season last year, defeating the Gamecocks in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament en route to the program’s third national title. The Lady Bears will also feature another especially familiar face for Carolina — guard Te’a Cooper transferred from the Gamecocks to BU this offseason.
Baylor and South Carolina’s matchup is part of the Paradise Jam Tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands over the Thanksgiving weekend, which will serve as a homecoming for freshman forward Aliyah Boston, who grew up in St. Thomas.
UConn and South Carolina will be meeting for the sixth consecutive season, again in the midst of conference play. The Huskies own a perfect 8-0 record against the Gamecocks, including a 3-0 mark in Colonial Life Arena.
The regular season-opener against Alabama State finishes a two-for-one deal signed between the schools while guard Bianca Jackson, daughter of ASU coach Freda Freeman-Jackson, played for the Gamecocks. She transferred to Florida State this offseason but coach Dawn Staley had previously said the two teams would still play.
Maryland, who welcomes the Gamecocks on Nov. 10, and South Carolina have faced off twice in the past two seasons, with the Terrapins and Gamecocks each taking a win on the road.
USC will travel to in-state rival Clemson on Nov. 24, looking to extend a nine-game winning streak against the Tigers. Clemson, however, is coming off a second-round NCAA tournament appearance.
SEC play begins the day after New Year’s, with the Gamecocks hosting Kentucky. A week after that, Staley’s team will welcome Arkansas, which knocked off Carolina in last year’s conference tournament, ending a streak of four consecutive titles.
The Gamecocks travel to Missouri, who has developed into one of the program’s most intense rivalries over the past few seasons, on January 16. The Tigers are entering a new era without top player Sophie Cunningham and added a USC transfer this offseason in forward LaDazhia Williams, but Williams will not be eligible to play this season.
Immediately after that, South Carolina hosts Mississippi State, the reigning SEC regular season and tournament champion. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks have established themselves as the league’s top two teams over the past three seasons. MSU has won two of the last three meetings, but South Carolina owns a 12-2 edge since 2011.
On Feb. 2, USC hosts Tennessee, a historic blueblood program undergoing change with a new head coach in Kellie Harper, and the Gamecocks finish off the regular season on March 1 with a home contest against Texas A&M, which features All-American talent Chennedy Carter and was ranked No. 10 in ESPN’s way-too-early ratings for the 2019-2020 season.
USC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL 2019-2020 SCHEDULE
Friday, Nov. 1 — North Georgia (exhibition)
Tuesday, Nov. 5 — Alabama State
Sunday, Nov. 10 — at Maryland
Wednesday, Nov. 13 — at Dayton
Sunday, Nov. 17 — Appalachian State
Thursday, Nov. 21 — USC Upstate
Sunday, Nov. 24 — at Clemson
Paradise Jam Tournament (St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands)
Thursday, Nov. 28 — Indiana
Friday, Nov. 29 — Washington State
Saturday, Nov. 30 — Baylor
Saturday, Dec. 7 — at Temple
Sunday, Dec. 15 — Purdue
Thursday, Dec. 19 — Duke
Sunday, Dec. 22 — South Dakota
Thursday, Jan. 2 — Kentucky*
Sunday, Jan. 5 — at Alabama*
Thursday, Jan. 9 — Arkansas*
Sunday, Jan. 12 — at Vanderbilt*
Thursday, Jan. 16 — at Missouri*
Monday, Jan. 20 — Mississippi State*
Sunday, Jan. 26 — at Georgia*
Thursday, Jan. 30 — at Ole Miss*
Sunday, Feb. 2 — Tennessee*
Thursday, Feb. 6 — at Arkansas*
Monday, Feb. 10 — UConn
Thursday, Feb. 13 — Auburn*
Monday, Feb. 17 — Vanderbilt*
Thursday, Feb. 20 — LSU*
Thursday, Feb. 23 — at Kentucky*
Sunday, Feb. 27 — at Florida*
Sunday, March 1 — Texas A&M*
Paradise Jam Tournament game