For the first time this season, the South Carolina basketball team will play in front of a sold-out venue at Colonial Life Arena. This Sunday, Dawn Staley's Gamecocks will compete against the Vanderbilt Commodores in front of a capacity crowd. It is the second announced sellout of the 2023-2024 campaign, but the first (February's matchup between USC and the UConn Huskies) has not happened yet, even though all of the tickets have been sold.
The Gamecocks and Commodores will tip-off at 3:00 PM EST on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network and the ESPN app.
The Sunday showdown will be part of the SEC's We Back Pat Initiative, named for the late legendary coach Pat Summitt, whose 39-year coaching career at Tennessee is one of the best-ever, regardless of sport. The initiative is a concentrated effort to support the Pat Summitt Foundation and the fight against Alzheimer's, the disease that ultimately ended Summitt's life.
Led by third-year head coach Shea Ralph, Vanderbilt is having a better-than-expected season at 17-3 (4-2), but even though they've played some good teams on their schedule so far this year (NC State, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, etc.), they haven't seen anything quite like the Gamecocks.
A potential danger for South Carolina basketball heading into the game against the 'Dores is the fact that they play LSU on Thursday night. The highly anticipated top-10 matchup is the College GameDay game of the week, and win or lose, USC can't lose focus on Sunday because of whatever happened on Thursday.
In a small bit of irony, Vandy head coach Shea Ralph was a former player and assistant coach at UConn from 2008-2021 (1996-2001 as a player). As a longtime assistant, she was one of Geno Auriemma's top advisors. Both of South Carolina basketball's 2023-2024 sellouts have a UConn/Shea Ralph connection.
A sellout is a big deal for the Gamecocks as Colonial Life Arena is the 3rd-largets venue in the SEC behind only Tennessee (Thompson-Boling Arena) and Arkansas (Bud Walton Arena); Kentucky's women's team do not play in Rupp Arena but in the smaller Memorial Arena.