By Doug Gorman
The Clayton State Lakers (14-0 overall, and 3-0 in Peach Belt Conference West) and the USC-Aiken Lady Pacers (15-0 and 7-0 East) are ranked among the nation's best Division II women's basketball teams in the country.
Saturday afternoon in a Noon tip-off, the two teams will get to show off in front of the rest of the nation in a key Peach Belt Conference contest at the Convocation Center on the Lady Pacers' own floor. The will game will be televised by CBS College Sports.
"We were thrilled to hear that we will play a CBS College Sports nationally televised game at Aiken this year," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox. "We appreciate this opportunity and thank CBS College Sports and the Division II media advisory group for allowing us to take part in this select event
It will be a battle between the No. 5-ranked Lady Lakers and the 18th-ranked Lady Pacers.
Clayton State is returning to action after more than a week off. Last Saturday, the Lady Lakers went on the road and beat Georgia College, but have been a victim of this week's ice storm ever since.
The Lady Lakers were scheduled to play PBC rival Columbus State in Morrow on Wednesday, but that game was postponed due to the icy conditions.
Saturday's tip-off will be just CSU's third game since returning from the Christmas break. The Lady Lakers started the 2011 portion of the schedule with a come-from-behind-second-half rally against Palm Beach Atlantic.
According to Cox, if there is a positive note to some of the downtime, sophomore Drameka Griggs is slowly recovering from an injured hand.
The former Jonesboro High School standout was off to a solid start for the Lady Lakers after spending one season at Division I Jacksonville.
Against Georgia College, she suffered an injury to her non-shooting hand and probably wouldn't have played against Columbus State Wednesday night.
"It happened late in the game," Cox said. "She went flying and her hand ended up going under her body. She sprained it really bad."
Griggs didn't practice on Monday or Tuesday, but was able to return on Wednesday and Thursday.
Cox expects the Jonesboro graduate to be ready when the conference game tips off.
"That's sort of benefitted us," Cox said. "We are able to get her better. We still don't think she is going to be 100 percent, but she's better than she would have been."
She has been a great addition to the Clayton State lineup since transferring last year from Jacksonville. Griggs enters Saturday's showdown with the Lady Pacers averaging 9.7 points per contest.
By the numbers: Teshymia Tillman leads Clayton State with a 14.0 points per game average. Tillman has started 12 of the Lady Lakers 14 games....Tanisha Woodard is averaging 12.5 points per game. The Lady Lakers are averaging 80.6 points per game and allowing just 54.6 points per contest.
Clayton State faces a balanced scoring Lady Pacer squad featuring three players in double figures. Hannah DeGraffinreed leads the team with an 11.6 average. Kayla Harris is averaging 11.5 points per game and Nakia Pinkney is averaging 10 points per game.
Cox's keys to victory: Clayton State needs to control the tempo of the game. A year ago, CSU got caught up playing a half-court game and ended up losing to the Pacers in overtime.
"They out executed us and broke us down defensively," he said. "They are real patient on offense, and you really have to stay focused."
Men set for action too
Unlike the CSU women, the Clayton State men (11-3 overall 2-1 in the PBC East) won't play under the bright lights of television when they take the floor against USC Aiken (9-5 overall and 3-4 PBC West), but minus the national audience, there's still plenty at stake in the 2:30 p.m. tip-off between the two PBC rivals.
Clayton State has won eight of its last nine games and is in first place in its half of PBC.
The Lakers are averaging 75.9 points per game and allowing just 64 points per game.
A pair of seniors lead the way for CSU. Brandon Robinson (20.6 points per game) and Timmy Downs (20.5 points per game) each are averaging a little more than 20 points a piece.
The Pacers will try and break a three-game losing streak when they entertain the Lakers.
Bryom Faison leads the Pacers with a 124.0 scoring average. Clayton State beat USC Aiken 90-74 last year.
The men's contest can be followed on live stats by going to the USC Aiken website.