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Preview: No. 18 South Carolina looks to turn slow season around tonight against Dayton

The South Carolina Gamecocks and Dayton Flyers had sluggish starts to their 2018-19 season campaigns. Both teams look to turn things around Wednesday night.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Albany Regional-Buffalo vs South Carolina
South Carolina forward Alexis Jennings will look to have a big performance when the Gamecocks host the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday night.
Photo by Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team has had a rough start to the 2018-19 season, where they are currently just 3-3. But South Carolina will host the Dayton Flyers tonight in a non-conference game. Here is a preview:

Game information

No. 18 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Dayton Flyers

When: Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, SC | TICKETS

How to watch: SEC Network Plus

What’s at stake?

For South Carolina, the Gamecocks head into this game as the first part of a three-game homestand. After tonight’s contest against the Dayton Flyers, they host the Baylor Lady Bears on Sunday, and the homestand concludes Wednesday, Dec. 5 against the Appalachian State Mountaineers. So, tonight’s game is an opportunity for South Carolina to bounce back after a tougher-than-expected start to their 2018-19 season.

The Gamecocks are currently 3-3, but they are probably better than their record would indicate this early in the season. Two of South Carolina’s losses are against Top-10 opponents, like an 85-61 home loss to Maryland on Nov. 18 and a 70-68 loss to Oregon State on Nov. 23, in the Vancouver Showcase. However, South Carolina lost the following day to then-unranked Drake, 90-85 in overtime.

It is early in the college basketball season, but the Gamecocks are more likely to treat this game as a must-win against Dayton.

Like South Carolina, Dayton has had a rough start to their season, too. The Flyers are the defending Atlantic 10 champions, but they are just 2-3 for the season. One of their losses was an 82-71 defeat to then No. 9 Maryland on Nov. 11, but their other two losses were against other mid-major teams. Dayton lost 84-79 in overtime to Northeastern on Nov. 17, and had a forgettable 51-35 loss to Green Bay on Nov. 24.

As the season goes on, Dayton should rack up more wins, given an easier schedule. However, their previous losses to Northeastern and Green Bay still aren’t positives heading into tonight’s game against South Carolina. With the Gamecocks not playing to their potential right now, it shouldn’t be too surprising if the Flyers can escape with a win.

Who are the WNBA Draft prospects in this game?

For South Carolina, Alexis Jennings is a senior forward who is filling in some big shoes with A’ja Wilson now in the WNBA. She is not projected to be a first-round pick, but she is the Gamecocks’ leading post player where she averages 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Te’a Cooper is South Carolina’s leading scorer and a draft prospect for the 2020 Draft. She is averaging 16.8 points a game so far this season. Tyasha Harris was in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool and is averaging 9.3 points per game.

As a mid-major, Dayton does not have players who figure to be first-round draft picks. But their leading scorer, junior Jayla Scaife, is averaging 14.6 points per game. Meanwhile, Julia Chandler is a redshirt junior averaging 13.4 points per game. If these Flyers’ players can continue to improve over this season and next, they could be on the radar to make a WNBA training camp spot in 2020.