February 5, 2021 

Gamecocks return to top, Freshman of the Week three-peat, Tide are rolling and more around the SEC

Could the SEC Freshman of the Year come from Ole Miss?

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The University of South Carolina Gamecocks are back on the top.

This week, they were voted the No. 1 team in women’s college basketball by a panel of Division I head coaches in the USA Today’s Sports women’s basketball coaches poll.

The poll, conducted weekly, is voted on by a panel chosen by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. The members represent each of the 32 Division I conferences that receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Each coach submits a Top 25 with a first-place vote worth 25 points, second place worth 24, and so on down to one point for 25th.

The Gamecocks finished with 20 first-place votes and a total of 781 points.  

Last season, the Gamecocks were on a 26-game win streak and were a perfect 16-0 when the season was shut down as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread. Currently they are 14-1 and undefeated at 9-0 in SEC play.

Three-Peat

Could the SEC Freshman of the Year come from Ole Miss? Possibly.

Ole Miss forward Madison Scott was named SEC Freshman of the Week – for the third time this season.

Scott’s 16 rebounds against LSU on Sunday were the most by a Rebel since 2015. This marks the fifth Freshman of the Week honor for Ole Miss this year, the most in a single season in program history. It’s also one shy of the record six total SEC weekly honors set by the 2006-07 Elite Eight team (four Players of the Week, two Freshmen of the Week).

Scott averaged 7.5 points and 10.0 rebounds across two games last week at No. 20 Tennessee and at LSU. Against the Tigers, she recorded her second career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds – the most by a Rebel since Dec. 12, 2015 (Brett Hart, vs. Western Kentucky, 18), the most by a Rebel in an SEC game since Feb. 13, 2014 (Tia Faleru, at Kentucky, 16) and the most by a Rebel freshman since Feb. 6, 2011 (Pa’Sonna Hope, vs. LSU, 16).

Scott currently leads all SEC freshmen and is tied for 16th nationally among freshmen in rebounding with 7.1 boards per game.

SEC Co-Players of the Week

This week’s SEC Player of the Week honors went to both Arkansas’ Chelsea Dungee and Tennessee’s Tamari Key.

Dungee scored 37 points against the No. 3 Connecticut Huskies, the most any player has scored against them since the 1999-2000 season. Her stat line from that game: 13-21 from the field, 4-5 from three and 7-10 from the free-throw line. Dungee has now scored 37+ points four times in her career, the most such performances in Arkansas program history. Dungee has now scored 10+ points in 23 straight games.

Tennessee’s Tamari Key turned in only the fourth triple-double in the history of the program last week, as the Lady Vols went 2-0 and improved to 12-3 overall and held tight to third place in the SEC standings with a 6-1 record in league play.

She had a 23-point, 10-rebound and 10-block triple-double against the University of Florida Gators, shooting 83.3 percent (10-12) from the floor.

Key, who entered the week averaging 8.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest, averaged 15.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 6.0 bpg in wins over Ole Miss and Florida and shot 68.4 percent from the field. The sophomore posted career bests in points, field goals, rebounds and blocks against UF. Her blocks total bested her previous career high of nine, was the second-most ever by a Lady Vol behind Kelley Cain’s 12 against LSU in 2010 and is tied for third in SEC women’s basketball history.

The triple-double was the first by a Lady Vol that involved blocks and the second by a sophomore, with Key tallying hers in the 15th game of her sophomore season while Shekinna Stricklen did so in game 14 of her sophomore year.

Mark Your Calendars

Contact tracing for COVID-19 has forced a revised schedule for several teams, including Texas A&M, whose game against Tennessee scheduled for Sunday was postponed due to a combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Tennessee program.

In its place, the SEC announced that the Arkansas versus Texas A&M game will be played in that time slot and be televised on the SEC Network. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 14.

 Rolllllll Tide! And a Dynamic Duo

 The Alabama Crimson Tide are rolling along this season as a team with the help of stellar individual performances from its dynamic duo of Jasmine Walker and Jordan Lewis.

The Tide, 12-4 overall and 5-4 in conference play, has won five of its first seven SEC games for the first time since 1997-98 season. The Tide is No. 1 in the SEC in free-throw percentage (75.5) and No. 2 in the league in three-point field goals per game (8.3). Alabama has the top three-point shooter in the SEC in Walker, who leads the league in makes (50), attempts (122) and makes per game (3.12).

Walker is also the only player in the SEC to rank in the top five in the conference in both scoring (19.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg). Additionally, the Tide has the most experienced point guard in the SEC in Lewis, who has started all 118 games she’s played in since she arrived on campus in 2016. Lewis is also the SEC’s active leader in assists (466) and is No. 4 in career steals (148), No. 5 in career points (1,394) and No. 12 in career rebounds (487).

 Alabama is the only school to boast two of the top seven scorers in SEC play with Lewis at No. 4 (19.6 ppg) and Walker at No. 7 (17.9 ppg).

LSU Player Honored

LSU forward Faustine Aifuwa was named this week as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) Women’s Basketball Player of the Week.

The award is based on nominations and voting by the state’s women’s basketball sports information directors, with SIDs not able to vote for their own players.

Aifuwa, a 6’5 senior, averaged a double-double for the week in two wins for the Tigers, including an upset victory at No. 22-ranked Georgia. The Dacula, Ga., native and 2020 LSWA Second-Team All-Louisiana selection returned to her home state on Thursday and scored 12 points with six rebounds, three blocks and two steals in a 60-52 win.

She wrapped up the week on Sunday by scoring 17 points and tying her career-high with 16 rebounds as LSU rallied to defeat Ole Miss in overtime, 75-66. The double-double was her sixth of the season and the 16th of her career while she moved to within four blocks from tying former Tiger Julie Gross (178 from 1978-80) for second place in school history. 

For the week, Aifuwa averaged 14.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and two blocks per game while shooting a combined 12-for-20 (60 percent) from the field.

Written by Dorothy J. Gentry

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