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USC women discover hurdles in path to fifth straight SEC title

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NCAA Mississippi St South Carolina Final Four Basketball (copy)

A'ja Wilson hopes to make it four SEC championships in four years in 2017-18, as well as five in five years for the Gamecocks overall. (File/AP)

COLUMBIA – The plan for 'one for the thumb' was released on Tuesday.

The SEC released its 2017-18 women’s basketball schedule, illustrating the path defending national champion South Carolina will travel while trying to win a fifth straight SEC regular-season championship. The Gamecocks are one of only two teams in league history to win four in a row; they’re trying to match Tennessee’s record haul of seven straight from 1998-2004.

USC will play Tennessee and Missouri twice each along with its permanent home-and-home opponent, Kentucky. Mississippi State, which the Gamecocks defeated for the SEC tournament and national championships last year, hosts USC on Feb 5.

USC will play Mississippi State after hosting Missouri, although there is a bye date in between. Missouri was one of only two SEC teams to beat USC last year; Tennessee was the other.

The Tigers return first-team all-SEC selection Sophie Cunningham while the Lady Vols signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. Tennessee also lost star Diamond DeShields and saw assistant coach Jolette Law and transferring guard Te’a Cooper each land with the Gamecocks.

USC will start its SEC slate at home against Texas A&M and end at Tennessee. The Gamecocks have gone 45-3 in the SEC over the past three seasons, including a perfect 16-0 mark in 2015-16. They have also won the last three SEC tournaments.

Some of their non-conference games have been released and others still have dates to be announced. USC hosts Alabama State, Duke and Connecticut while traveling to Maryland, Temple and Clemson. The Gamecocks will also play in an exempt tournament around Thanksgiving.

Follow David Cloninger on Twitter @DCPandC.

From Rock Hill, S.C., David Cloninger covers Gamecock sports. He will not rest until he owns every great film and song ever recorded.

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