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G PJ Dozier hopes to return to the lineup when the Gamecocks take on Auburn on Tuesday night.

Lady Gamecocks topple unbeaten Mississippi State; PJ Dozier’s status for Tuesday night

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more.

Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Lady Gamecocks deal Mississippi State first loss

It went down to the wire, but the No. 5 Lady Gamecocks toppled previously undefeated No. 4 Mississippi State.

Related: Recap, box score from 64-61 win against Mississippi State

From SEC Country:

“Junior guard A’ja Wilson stepped to the line in a 1-point game, calmly making 2 free throws to put the Gamecocks ahead by 3 and in driver’s seat for their fourth straight SEC regular-season championship.

Behind Wilson and junior guard Allisha Gray, No. 5 South Carolina (17-1, 7-0) handed No. 4 Mississippi State (20-1, 6-1) its first loss of the season, a 64-61 final in a thrilling back-and-forth game Monday night.”

With the win, the Lady Gamecocks bolster their already-impressive tournament résumé.

Carolina was projected as the No. 3 overall seed earlier on Monday, even before the victory over MSU:

Dawn Staley’s team boasts one of the top average attendance figures in the country — and as expected, the Carolina faithful delivered in a big way on Monday night.

Men’s hoops moves up in Top 25

Despite coming up on the short end of a 85-69 game in Lexington on Saturday, the Gamecocks moved up in the Top 25 poll — making the smallest of moves from No. 24 to No. 23.

Related: South Carolina basketball moves up to No. 23 in AP Poll

“South Carolina went into last week facing its biggest week remaining on the schedule with games against then-No. 19 Florida and then-No. 5 Kentucky. The Gamecocks started out with a 57-53 win against Florida, then took an 85-69 loss at Kentucky.”

Pollsters obviously rewarded the Gamecocks for their upset of the Gators. Then, dare I say, had empathy for them in facing Kentucky without PJ Dozier.

It’s a shocking development for a team that just four weeks ago was knocked out of the Top 25 after losing to Clemson by two without Sindarius Thornwell.

Dozier update

To say that Dozier was missed on Saturday in Lexington would be a colossal understatement.

Related: Goal is for PJ Dozier to play Tuesday against Auburn

Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin provided a quick and optimistic update on his starting point guard on Monday:

“We are going to try and do some stuff today to see how he reacts,” Martin said. “He has (had) nonstop treatment the past 48 hours. The goal is to get him on the court (Tuesday) night.”

As evidenced by their ranking in the most recent Top 25, the Gamecocks have earned some goodwill from pollsters.

Drop one of these upcoming games against lesser SEC opponents and much of credibility gained from besting Florida goes out the window.

Getting Dozier back and in the starting lineup is critical to the Gamecocks’ tourney aspirations.

Not only does a healthy Dozier keep the Gamecocks’ best starting five on the court, but it also keeps freshman G Rakym Felder coming off the bench — where his handling and scoring abilities provide a second-unit spark.

Former Gamecock makes the Pro Bowl

It was announced Monday that former South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

Related: Former South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore picked for first Pro Bowl

Gilmore was a key cog in the Gamecocks’ stingy defense that led them to an SEC East title in 2010 and the school’s first 11-win season in 2011.

“The Rock Hill, S.C., native made 8 interceptions during his three years at South Carolina. He earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2010, when he was also third-team All-American.”

Entering the draft as a junior, the cornerback’s spectacular play made him the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

NFL coach on Gamecocks losing commitment

Four-star prospect Hamsah Nasirildeen’s de-commitment was covered in the Monday edition of Chicken & Waffles — what wasn’t covered was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator’s reaction …

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SEC Country’s Nick Cole has more:

Todd Monken, the former Southern Miss head coach, took some heat for his decision to leave his job atop the program to become the Tampa Bay offensive coordinator after the 2015 season. It’s obviously something that still bothers him more than a year later.

On Monday morning, Monken tweeted an article about Nasirildeen’s decision to leave the Gamecocks behind for Florida State after being committed to South Carolina since August. He put the following message on top ofthe tweet: “Committed since August! Family decision! Where is The outrage on this one”

So, while Monken may not have any direct ties to USC, I will welcome him with open arms. Any individual who blindly supports South Carolina is a friend of mine!

In case you missed it

Gamecocks world champ

Dozier has held the strap for nearly two months, but the time has come for a new champ to rise.

And that man comes from a long line of NFL players grossly underutilized during their time in Columbia.

He’s the Gamecocks’ lone representative in Super Bowl LI and your new Gamecocks world champ: Falcons FB Pat DiMarco. Now, enjoy some classic DiMarco highlights featuring USC luminary Marcus Lattimore …