Women's Basketball Returns Home To Face South Carolina
Jan. 18, 2012
AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team (9-9, 1-4 SEC) will return home for the first time in more than a week Thursday as the Tigers host South Carolina (14-4, 3-2 SEC). Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT, at Auburn Arena.
The game is also Auburn's "We Back Pat" game, which is part of a week-long initiative focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.
"Pat Summitt is the reason why the SEC is the SEC, her standards were high for her own program, but she also helped everyone else in this conference raise the standard of their own program, which made the SEC the strongest conference in the country," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "I think we owe her the recognition, we owe her the backing and the support of her for so many reasons. Not just because we love her and we appreciate what she's done, but to show these kids that are playing now and that are coming up just how important she has been to the game of women's basketball."
Fans can purchase "We Back Pat" wristbands at the game and can also purchase t-shirts online at AUFanShop.com. The Tigers will also be auctioning off the "We Back Pat" shooting shirts the team is wearing this week.
Both Auburn and South Carolina come into Thursday's game on SEC losing skids. Auburn has lost its last four games while the Gameockcs have lost their last two.
South Carolina comes into Auburn with a 14-2 record and a 3-2 mark in league play. The Gamecocks went 11-2 in non-conference play with the losses coming to No. 11/12 Penn State (55-50) and North Carolina State (55-53). Included in the 11 wins were victories over Illinois (71-52), Clemson (65-48) and No. 18/16 North Carolina (79-48). USC started off league play with three straight wins over Alabama, Vanderbilt and Florida. Since then, the Gamecocks have dropped decisions to LSU (58-48) and No. 9/8 Kentucky (66-58).
South Carolina has a balanced scoring attack with no play averaging double figures, but eight averaging four or more points per game for a team average of 61.6 points per game.
Markeshia Grant leads the team with 9.6 points, followed by Aleighsa Welch with 9.3 and La'Keisha Sutton with 8.8. Welch also leads the team on the boards with 6.3 per game.
The Gamecocks have the best 3-point defense in the nation, allowing just 28 on the season, holding opponents to 19.9 percent from beyond the arc.
"South Carolina is having a really good year," said Fortner. "These last two ball games, they played Kentucky really well. They played LSU well at LSU, and it just kind of got away from them there at the end.
"They are a very good defensive team. They have players that can create off the dribble and they are tough to guard. They are having a good year, and they are feeding off of that."
The Gamecocks go with a smaller, guard-oriented lineup that has posed a challenge for most teams this season with their quickness and ball pressure.
"South Carolina is very guard-oriented, which makes them very quick and makes them tough defenders," said Fortner. "You're not going to get anything easy offensively from them. They can be very physical on the inside, and Dawn Staley has players coming off the bench that are really contributing."
Auburn is 9-9 on the season and 1-4 in SEC play after a 39-59 road loss to Arkansas on Sunday.
Depth and Defense have been the key words for Auburn this season. Nine different Tigers have started in seven different starting lineups while five different players have led the team in scoring. Nine players are averaging at least 15.0 minutes per game this season.
Leading the way is sophomore Tyrese Tanner with 11.1 points per game, good enough to rank 19th in the SEC. Right behind her is freshman Hasina Muhammad with 9.9 points per game, a mark that ranks her 26th in the SEC and second among league freshmen.
Two other Tigers are near double figures as Camille Glymph and Blanche Alverson average 9.0 and 8.7 points per game, respectively. Senior Parrisha Simmons leads the team in rebounding with 5.7 boards per game.
For fans that cannot make it to the game, GameTracker and a live video Webcast will be available at AuburnTigers.com. Tiger fans can listen to the game live on WMXA 96.7 FM and AuburnTigers.com with play-by-play from Andy Burcham and color commentary from Arnika Edwards.
Season and tickets are still on sale with individual packages starting at $50 for reserved chairback seats. Auburn students are allowed in for free and discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Auburn's home schedule this season features games against Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and in-state rival Alabama.
For more information, please call the Athletic Department ticket office at 1-855-282-2010 or visit www.AUBTix.com.
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