Preview: The Gophers (7-3) will play their second top-10 opponent when they face No. 6 South Carolina (6-1) in Columbia. Minnesota is No. 18 in the latest RPI rankings, with wins over two 2016 NCAA tournament teams from last season. They lost to No. 7 Florida State 75-61 on Nov. 30 but have won three times since. … Coach Dawn Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, led the Gamecocks to the Sweet 16 last season. They lost 74-63 at No. 21 Duke last Sunday but have wins over No. 8 Louisville, No. 12 Ohio State and No. 17 Texas.
Players to watch: Three Gophers players are among the Big Ten’s top 14 scorers — Carlie Wagner at 20.7 points per game, Kenisha Bell at 16.7 and freshman Gadiva Hubbard at 15.3. Bell ranks second in the league in assists at 6.0 per game. South Carolina 6-5 forward A’ja Wilson, the SEC player of the year last season, is averaging 17 points and 2.6 blocks. Teammate Alaina Coates, a 6-4 center who has 46 career double-doubles, is averaging 13.9 points and 10.9 rebounds.
Numbers: The Gameocks have lost once in their past 53 home games and lead the nation in free throws made per game (19.4). … The Gophers are 1-3 all-time vs. South Carolina.