No. 2 UConn women’s basketball vs. No. 1 South Carolina: time, how to watch, broadcasters, AP poll delayed until after game

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  • Paige Bueckers
    American basketball player

Not even two weeks into the season, the college basketball world will be granted a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup when UConn (3-0) faces off against South Carolina in the championship game of the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis women’s tournament Monday at noon.

The last time these two teams met, No. 2 UConn knocked off No. 1 South Carolina at home thanks to Paige Bueckers’ dazzling 31-point performance, which included a now-iconic off-balance dagger 3 in overtime. This will be the first of two regular season matchups between the powerhouses (South Carolina will host UConn on Jan. 27), and could very well be a preview of a Final Four or national championship game showdown come spring.

The matchup is so monumental that it’s been moved from airing on ESPN2 to ESPN, and the Associated Press decided to delay the release of its weekly poll so that voters could take into account Monday’s outcome. The only other time that’s been done was when No. 1 Tennessee and No. 2 UConn squared off on Jan. 16, 1995. UConn won that game and earned its first top ranking as a result.

Coach Geno Auriemma said he hasn’t had a chance to closely scout South Carolina (5-0), but that “you don’t want to watch them play too much because they just have so many ways [to hurt you].

“Their post players are just so dominant, on both ends. And their guards are super athletic, super quick. And it’s a really, really hard team to prepare for, no matter what kind of team you have.”

South Carolina returns all 11 players from last season’s team, which like UConn fell in the Final Four, brought in a top transfer in Kamilla Cardoso and introduced the top-ranked recruiting class. Its quality wins include a 66-57 defensive slugfest against then-No. 5 NC State and Sunday’s 80-63 victory over an injury-riddled No. 9 Oregon.

“This year kind of reminds me back to when they had A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates,” Auriemma said. “Big kids, really strong inside, really tough. But we had Pheesa [Napheesa Collier], so we could compensate for that. I don’t know if we have that this year, so we’ll have to find different ways [to win].”

Here’s what else you need to know about the matchup:

Site: Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

Time: Noon

Series: UConn leads, 9-1

Last meeting: No. 2 UConn 63, No. 1 South Carolina 59 (OT), in Storrs, Feb. 8

TV: ESPN (Eric Frede, Carolyn Peck)

Radio: UConn IMG Sports Network on 97.9 ESPN (Bob Joyce, Debbie Fiske)

Other scores: Minnesota 70, Syracuse 63; Buffalo and Oklahoma played late Sunday.

South Carolina probable starters, sixth man

Destanni Henderson, G, 5-7, Sr.; Zia Cooke, G, 5-9, Jr.; Brea Beal, G, 6-1, Jr.; Aliyah Boston, F, 6-5, Jr.; Victaria Saxton, F, 6-2, Sr.; Laeticia Amihere, F, 6-4, Jr.

UConn probable starters, sixth man

Christyn Williams, G, 5-11, Sr.; Olivia Nelson-Ododa, F, 6-5, Sr.; Evina Westbrook, G, 6-0, R-Sr.; Paige Bueckers, G, 5-11, So.; Aaliyah Edwards, F, 6-3, So.; Azzi Fudd, G, 5-11, Fr.

The matchup

UConn’s offense: Four players so far have shown capable of having big offensive outbursts: Bueckers, Williams, Westbrook and Fudd. No other Husky has hit double figures in a game so far — a sign that the team’s expected depth is still developing.

UConn’s defense: After some shaky moments in their first two games, Sunday’s performance against USF was a step in the right direction. The Huskies are allowing 63.7 points per game on 38.7% shooting. The unit has yet to face a team like South Carolina that sports such dominant post players.

South Carolina’s offense: The Gamecocks’ offense averages 76.4 points per game on 49.8% shooting (39.7% on 3s but they don’t take them very often). Boston, Henderson and Cooke each average approximately 13 points per game, and the team excels on the offensive glass. Don’t sleep on the likes of Amihere (who scored 18 against Oregon) or Cardoso (who was in triple-double range against Buffalo).

South Carolina’s defense: South Carolina holds opponents to 53.2 points per game on 34.1% shooting (25.4% on 3s) and blocks 8.0 shots per game. Its length, physicality and toughness can give other teams fits. No team has scored more than 63 points against the Gamecocks so far.

UConn keys: UConn’s posts have had a quiet start to the season. How will they fare guarding and rebounding in the paint against South Carolina’s bigs, or as the Gamecocks’ guards look to get to the rim? Offensive execution will also be crucial against such a suffocating defense. More likely than not, UConn will have to hit a good number of 3s.

Players to watch: Aside from the posts: Bueckers’ heroics lifted UConn over South Carolina last season. The Huskies will no doubt need her to have a good night, but they’ll also need Williams and Westbrook on point to give them an edge in the backcourt.

About South Carolina’s coach: One of the legendary coaches of the game, Dawn Staley has led the Gamecocks to three Final Four appearances, including a national championship in 2017. She is the first person to win the Naismith award as both a player (at Virginia) and a coach. Staley was named the head coach of the U.S. national team in 2017 and guided the USA to gold in the Tokyo Olympics this past summer.

South Carolina’s mascot: Cocky

Famous alumni: NBA Hall of Famer Alex English, football coach Mark Dantonio, TV anchor Rita Cosby

Alexa Philippou can be reached at

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