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Back in October, the Associated Press released its annual preseason Top 25 poll, which featured South Carolina at No. 1 and UConn at No. 2. That turned out to be prescient. Six months later, those two are the only teams left standing, and on Sunday night in Minneapolis they will meet in the national championship game

This is not, however, the first time that the two women's basketball powers have played each other this season. In November, they faced off in the Bahamas in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. On that night, South Carolina used an impressive second half to pull away for a 73-57 victory.  

While that contest was from the beginning of the season, and the Battle 4 Atlantis trophy obviously doesn't mean as much as the national championship trophy, their prior meeting can still be instructive as we look ahead to Sunday. Here are a few things we can learn by reviewing the tape:

Aliyah Boston is going to put up numbers

This isn't exactly breaking news, but Aliyah Boston is the best player in the country. She's claimed every major award, including Naismith Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and is putting up 18 points, 15 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game on 55.4 percent shooting in the tournament. 

She's so big, so athletic and so skilled that slowing her down generally isn't an option. If there's one team that would have a chance, however, it's UConn. The Huskies have some impressive frontcourt players of their own in Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards, and allow just 21.2 points in the paint per game, which puts them in the 97th percentile in the nation, per CBB Analytics. 

When they met in November, UConn forced Boston into a number of jumpers -- shots she can hit, but are a win for the defense considering her prowess in the paint -- and limited her to just one free throw. Meanwhile, Nelson-Ododa had a few terrific defensive moments where she denied Boston. 

In general, they played Boston about as well as you could expect. It just didn't matter. She still finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds on 53 percent shooting. UConn may be able to repeat their effort on Sunday and make it difficult on Boston, but she's going to produce. It's inevitable. 

UConn must take care of the ball

The Huskies are extremely talented and boast one of the best offensive attacks in college basketball -- especially now that Paige Bueckers is back on the floor and looking more like her usual self. They do, however, have one major Achilles heel on that side of the ball: turnovers. 

They have a 17.3 percent turnover rate, which means they aren't even getting a shot up on nearly one-fifth of their possessions, and have recorded three 20-plus turnover games. While their conference opponents were often weak enough that that it didn't matter, it's hard to beat elite teams like that. 

The Huskies learned as much when they coughed it up 19 times against the Gamecocks in November and suffered their biggest defeat of the season. The thing about that that game that some might not remember, though, is that UConn led for much of the first half and it was competitive through the first three quarters. 

It only turned into a blowout in the fourth quarter, when South Carolina held UConn to just three points in the frame. How? By forcing them into turnover after turnover. UConn had 17 possessions in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over on seven of them. 

UConn cannot make plays like that on Sunday. It's hard enough to beat South Carolina as it is; gifting them a bunch of extra possessions makes it nearly impossible. 

Paint battle will be crucial

You don't have the success these two teams did all season long without being great at just about everything. But whether it was getting easy baskets themselves or preventing their opponents from doing the same, UConn and South Carolina both excelled in the paint. 

South Carolina:

Points in the paint per game: 37.5 (98th percentile)

Points in the paint allowed per game: 23.1 (92nd percentile)


Points in the paint per game: 35.1 (93rd percentile)

Points in the paint allowed per game: 21.2 (97th percentile)

When they met back in November, the paint battle was unsurprisingly a key factor in the result. The Gamecocks outscored the Huskies in the paint, 32-22 -- a 10-point margin in a 16-point win. That was in large part because they simply got more opportunities. When the Huskies were able to get inside, they generally had success, shooting 11 of 20 in the paint. The Gamecocks, however, went 16 of 27. 

South Carolina's defense had a lot to do with that. There were the 19 aforementioned turnovers, where UConn didn't get a shot up at all, let alone one in the paint. In addition, there were a number of possessions like this one in the second quarter, where Destanni Henderson cuts off Bueckers before she can get to the rim and forces her into a tough jumper. 

It wasn't just the defense, though. The Gamecocks also dominated the glass in that November matchup, which was another key aspect in winning the paint battle. Overall, they outrebounded the Huskies, 42-25, and were particularly effective on the offensive glass. Led by Boston who had seven on her own, the Gamecocks pulled down 19 offensive rebounds, compared to just six for the Huskies. 

For the season, South Carolina has an offensive rebound rate of 45.7, which is the best in the country. On nearly half of their missed shots, they just go get the ball and try again. That wears teams down, just like it did to UConn in November. If the Gamecocks can control the offensive boards like that again on Sunday, they will likely win.