USC women clinch top-four seed in SEC tourney

dcloninger@thestate.comFebruary 20, 2014 

South Carolina continues to make history as it chases history.

As the No. 4 Gamecocks (24-2, 12-1 SEC) continued their quest for the program’s first regular-season SEC championship with an 81-58 win over No. 15 Kentucky on Thursday, the good news kept rolling in. Not only did USC sweep the season series over the Wildcats, the Gamecocks also clinched another first – a top-four seed for the SEC tournament for the first time under coach Dawn Staley.

The worst USC can finish in the SEC is 12-4. All but Tennessee and Texas A&M can’t win more than 11 SEC games. That guarantees that the Gamecocks’ first game in the tournament will not be until March 7, and it also guarantees that in order to win the tournament, USC would only have to win three games instead of four or five.

The Gamecocks claimed the No. 2 seed in the tournament in 2002 but haven’t been seeded higher than fifth at any other time. USC has actually finished tied for fourth in the standings in each of the past two seasons, but lost the tiebreaker each time, being seeded fifth in 2013 and sixth in 2012. USC won a tiebreaker for the fifth seed in 2011.

USC remains in first place in the SEC by a game over Texas A&M, and by two games over Tennessee. The Gamecocks finish their schedule with a game at Tennessee, while hosting Georgia and Florida.

If there is a tie for first place at the end of the regular season, each of the tied teams receives a trophy and recognition as the SEC champion. Only one team will receive the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament, though, and that is determined by tiebreakers.

USC loses a tiebreaker to Texas A&M and will determine its tiebreaker with third-place Tennessee during the regular-season finale.

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