Thursday night’s game between the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks and the Texas A&M Aggies will be the last game in College Station for legendary A&M coach Gary Blair, who is retiring after this season.
A pregame ceremony will officially name the floor at Reed Arena “Gary Blair Court” so Blair will be able to play on it with the new name one time. Only Pat Summitt (Tennessee) and Kay Yow (NC State) have courts named after them on the women’s side.
South Carolina’s national Player of the Year candidate, Aliyah Boston, will be going for an SEC-record 20th double-double in a row. She is currently tied with former LSU Tiger Sylvia Fowles with 19.
The Aggies (14-12, 4-10 SEC) were No. 23 to the start the season, but aren’t even on the bubble of ESPN’s bracketology, so they really need to win their last two regular-season games (both against ranked teams) and then do well in the SEC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. Of course, if they win the SEC Tournament they would get an automatic bid. Their final regular-season game is at No. 25 Georgia on Sunday.
Last year, the South Carolina/Texas A&M game was a big deal as both teams were vying for a No. 1 seed. It was the last regular-season game for both teams and the Aggies won 65-57 in College Station to claim the SEC regular-season title. This year, A&M is no longer an SEC powerhouse, but the rivalry hasn’t gone anywhere.
The Aggies have lost three in a row, including a double-overtime heartbreaker to Alabama this past Sunday. The Gamecocks (25-1, 13-1 SEC) have won 13 straight with their only loss this season coming to Missouri in overtime on Dec. 30. In a season with so much parity across the country, they have been the one team that has stood out above the rest. They are 11-0 against ranked opponents and defeated A&M 65-45 on Jan. 13 in Columbia.
No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks (25-1, 13-1 SEC) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (14-12, 4-10 SEC)
When: Thursday, Feb. 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Reed Arena in College Station, TX
How to watch: SEC Network
Key to the matchup: Texas A&M’s 3-point shooting. It’s the only significant advantage the Aggies have. They also shoot better from the free throw line but South Carolina is 22nd in the nation in opponent free throw attempts per game (12.2), according to Her Hoop Stats. Texas A&M will have to get hot from beyond the arc if it wants any chance at an upset. It has four players with over 30 makes from distance this season: Kayla Wells (49.3 percent), Qadashah Hoppie (38.3 percent), Destiny Pitts (37.6 percent) and Jordan Nixon (36.9 percent).