South Carolina-UConn: Matchup Breakdown

By Rixon Lane

The much-anticipated matchup between the Gamecocks and Huskies is just hours away.

With South Carolina and Connecticut so evenly matched, tonight's game could come down to a single play or a single player.

Here's a look at how the two squads stack up:

 

Point Guard: Khadijah Sessions vs. Moriah Jefferson

Sessions leads the Gamecocks with 44 steals and 67 assists on the season, but poses almost no threat to score from the field. Jefferson leads UConn in the same categories and averages 11.3 point per game. 

Advantage: Huskies

 

Shooting Guard: Tiffany Mitchell vs. Kia Nurse

Mitchell is South Carolina's leading scorer and its most lethal three-point shooter, connecting on 47% of her attempts from beyond the arc. Nurse averages double-figures, but isn't the same caliber of shot creator. 

Advantage: Gamecocks

 

Small Forward: Asia Dozier vs. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis

Dozier takes great care of the basketball, but isn't a big time scorer and averages just one rebound per game. Mosqueda-Lewis shots over 50% from the three-point line and is also a 90% free-throw shooter.

Advantage: Huskies

 

Power Forward: Aleighsa Welch vs. Morgan Tuck

Welch is the heart of South Carolina's team, playing the second-most minutes and pulling down nearly six boards per contest. Tuck averages 13.8 points per game and is a steady performer. Whoever plays the best may determine tonight's game.

Advantage: Push

 

Center: Elem Ibiam vs. Breanna Stewart

Ibiam is South Carolina's most accurate shooter from the field, but she will have her hands full. Stewart may be the most complete player in college basketball, scoring 16.1 points and grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game. 

Advantage: Huskies

 

Bench: 

UConn can bring Gabby Williams, the team's leading rebounder, or Kiah Stokes, who's blocked 108 shots this season, off the bench. However, no team in American can match South Carolina's depth. A'ja Wilson, Alaina Coates, and Bianca Cuevas will all likely come off the pine. 

Advantage: Gamecocks

 

Coaching:

Geno Auriemma reached 900 career wins faster than any college coach and has built the top program in college basketball. However, Dawn Staley has turned South Carolina into a national power seemingly in the blink of an eye. A great chess match should take place tonight.

Advantage: Push

 

Environment: 

Gampel Pavillion will be sold out tonight and no one has beaten UConn in that building since Notre Dame on January 5th, 2013.

Advantage: Huskies

 

Experience: 

Both teams have seven players who have been around for at least three seasons. However, South Carolina has already knocked off five ranked opponents. UConn has played 12 consecutive games without facing a ranked foe.

Advantage: Gamecocks

 

Overall:

South Carolina may have the top ranking, but UConn is still the class of women's college basketball. A home game in front of an electric crowd and a 16-3 record in their last 19 #1 vs. #2 matchups seems to indicate that the Huskies will pull this one out.

Which is exactly the way South Carolina likes it. 

The Gamecocks will be the underdog for the first time all season and have played some of their best basketball this season against the toughest competition. If they can weather an early storm from a fired-up UConn team, then game on. 

Tip-off from Storrs is set for 8:00 on ESPN2.