GREENVILLE, S.C. (WIS) - As the SEC’s regular-season champion, South Carolina now sets its sights on adding more hardware to their trophy case.
The top-ranked Gamecocks will begin play in the SEC Tournament in Greenville on Friday. Carolina enters Friday on a quest to secure its fifth SEC Tournament title. The last title for the Gamecocks came in 2018. Last year, South Carolina was dethroned in the quarterfinal round by Arkansas. While that result was one that the Gamecocks hope to avoid this year, it’s not something they’ve discussed heading into this year’s tournament.
“I haven’t brought that up,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “We’ve got a different team. They don’t have the habits of the team of last year. So, we’re not going to dwell on it.”
Needless to say, the Gamecocks also enter the tournament with a huge target on their back as the No. 1 team in the country. Still, Staley and her players aren’t focused on the pressure that comes with their position.
“We don’t dwell on it,” Staley said. “We know it’s pressure in itself. We just talk about staying in character. These players have to approach it the same way although the stakes are a little bit higher. I’ve always said that the team that is able to shake off whatever jitters of postseason and get closer to themselves the quickest in the basketball game is probably going to win the game.”
For the Gamecocks’ freshmen, this tournament will be their first. However, it’ll take that same chemistry they used to put together a 29-1 record to come away with the trophy come Sunday.
“It’s postseason now. So, we know what’s at stake,” said South Carolina freshman forward Aliyah Boston. “And we know there’s going to be pressure, but we just have to stay focused. We’ve been focused so far throughout the season so there’s really no reason to change our mindset because we know what we want to accomplish.”
Since 2009, the Gamecocks are 17-7 in the SEC Tournament. Prior to their loss to Arkansas, they won four straight conference tournament titles.
The Gamecocks will begin their quest to bring home another SEC championship. The first step in reaching that goal is taking down eighth-seeded Georgia.
That game will take place Friday at noon at Bon Secours Wellness Arena and will be televised on the SEC Network.