Thursday's much-anticipated women's basketball rematch between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 9 UConn has been canceled, as the Gamecocks chose to prioritize making up an SEC game that was postponed by COVID-19.
South Carolina instead will host Ole Miss on Thursday. With its trip to Columbia, South Carolina, called off, UConn also will make up a postponed conference game this week, traveling to Big East foe DePaul on Wednesday.
"I know our fans always enjoy the UConn game, and our team enjoys the rivalry," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said in a statement. "But I have always said that our conference season, and especially our goal of another SEC championship, is more central to our program.
"As we approach the second half of league play next month, it has become more important to complete our SEC schedule to keep ourselves in the running for a conference title. This Thursday is one of the few dates Ole Miss has open, so, with my team's best interest at heart, I started the conversations that led us to this point."
The Gamecocks' game against Ole Miss was originally scheduled for Jan. 2.
"Dawn Staley reached out to me about postponing the series for this season," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement. "It's a priority for South Carolina to make up SEC games, so this is the best decision for them right now. We know a lot of fans were excited for this game, but we look forward to continuing the series with South Carolina in future seasons."
Thursday's game was the last in a previous home-and-home agreement between South Carolina and UConn. A new agreement for the next two seasons was signed last summer.
The Gamecocks and Huskies have played each other in every regular season since 2014-15. The teams met once already this season, with South Carolina beating UConn 73-57 in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Nov. 22.
UConn's game against DePaul was originally scheduled for Dec. 31. The Huskies still have one more nonconference game scheduled: Feb. 6 vs. No. 5 Tennessee.
In Charlie Creme's latest Bracketology for ESPN, South Carolina and Tennessee are both No. 1 seeds, while UConn is a No. 4 seed. The loss of a high-profile foe such as South Carolina takes away another opportunity at moving up in seeding for the Huskies, who are 6-0 in the Big East and had four conference games postponed between Dec. 29 and Jan. 7.