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South Carolina has been the most dominant team this season despite losing five players to the 2023 WNBA Draft, but success doesn't come easy and it takes a lot of discipline behind the scenes. A 19-point win over Mississippi State on Sunday led to a deep conversation from Dawn Staley instead of a celebration, and even freshman phenom MiLaysia Fulwiley was benched earlier this season in an effort to teach her a lesson. 

Staley was not happy with the 85-66 win over the Bulldogs because, despite the final score, the team didn't perform to the high standards they have set for themselves.

Sure, the Gamecocks held them to just 36% shooting, but South Carolina -- one of the top rebounding teams in the nation -- only grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and had just one more total rebound than Mississippi State. The Gamecocks were scoreless for almost four minutes late in the second quarter, and then they went 8-for-22 from the field in the third.

"We did enough to win a basketball game, but probably not enough to win this league," Staley said. "I think we just played undisciplined, uncharacteristically, on both sides of the basketball. So that's disheartening because we've worked really hard to have those instances not appear as much as in the game, or we're able to cover it up a little bit better."

In the locker room, Staley let her team know the result wasn't as important as the way they played, and also pointed out that "it was somewhat of a buildup to this." This wasn't their normal postgame talk, but a deeper conversation.

"What I said, probably, you'd need to turn your camera off to really get the full gist of it," Staley joked. "It's just getting young people to recognize certain things and sometimes you do it different ways. You do it in this tone, where it's just conversational, and then you do it in a more demanding tone. It was more of a demanding tone. Because I don't really think they know. They're so young."

The team took Monday off and planned to get back to work Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for Missouri. Staley said she wasn't worried because her team usually does a good job at responding. 

Fulwiley has been a good example of this. Staley described her as a "generational talent" to CBS Sports, and despite a rough practice ahead of the season opener, Fulwiley proved she is a human highlight reel from Day 1 against Notre Dame.

Her talent is undoubtedly clear, but the freshman still has a lot to learn. Earlier this season, fans were left wondering why she only played three minutes during a tight game against North Carolina. The Gamecocks pulled off a 65-58 victory while Fulwiley mostly watched from the bench.

"My defense wasn't up to par, so I sat out a game and I watched my team fight for a win, and they won," Fulwiley told The Messenger this week. "At first I was confused because I was actually doing good in practice, but then, when [Staley] broke it down for me, I came to the realization like, 'You're right, I don't do that as well on defense.' It's not all about offense. 

"I feel like I did a great job, just taking her feedback and just working hard in practice every day. But there are always other things. Now I need to worry about my turnovers and being help-side defense -- all the small things."

Being benched is not a great feeling, but in that same interview Fulwiley made it clear that part of playing for Staley is staying humble and that big egos are not welcomed.

Fulwiley is one of seven Gamecocks averaging over nine points per game. This is a deep roster with strengths on both ends of the court, as South Carolina possesses the top scoring margin in the nation by averaging 90.8 points per game while holding opponents to 51 points per contest. They are one of only three undefeated teams left, and Staley's demand for excellence is a big reason why. 

"We're trying to win a championship, at the end of the day," Fulwiley said. "So whatever the coaches need us to do, that's what we're supposed to go out there and do. And it shows in practice: We go hard in practice, we compete. But it's a healthy competition."