No. 1 South Carolina calls off UConn game for SEC contest

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) No. 1 South Carolina won't get the chance to beat ninth-ranked UConn for a second time this season.

Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said Sunday night that Thursday night's contest with the Huskies was called off so South Carolina would substitute Mississippi to play a game that had been postponed from earlier this season.

Staley said in a statement it was more important to "complete our SEC schedule to keep ourselves in the running for a conference title."

One of the few dates Ole Miss had open as Thursday, "so with my team's best interest at heart, I started the conversations that led us to this point."

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Staley reached out to him about cancelling the game. He understood the priority for the Gamecocks was Southeastern Conference games and "this was the best decision for them right now."

South Carolina and UConn had played at least once each year since 2014-15 season. The teams met in the championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament this past November with the Gamecocks taking a 73-57 over the then second-ranked Huskies.

The teams are scheduled to play in each of the next two seasons, at UConn next year and at South Carolina the year after that. Both sides will discuss, South Carolina's statement said, if there will be changes to that rotation.

The Gamecocks were originally hosting Mississippi on Jan. 2. The game was called off due to COVID-19 concerns within the Rebels' program. South Carolina substituted Mississippi State, defeating the Bulldogs 80-68.

South Carolina (17-1, 5-1 SEC) trails No. 5 Tennessee in the SEC standings. The Lady Vols are 7-0 in league play this season.

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Updated January 23, 2022