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Feb. 4, 2009

South Carolina at Kentucky | 7 p.m.
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Last Time Out
South Carolina dropped a 63-56 decision to LSU at Colonial Life Arena Thursday night after a second-half rally that saw the deficit close to five points in the final three minutes. The Gamecocks had three players in double-figure points, including freshman Lakeisha Sutton’s 19, and out-scored the Lady Tigers by two in the second half, but could not get over the hump in the final minutes.

Series Notes
The Wildcats lead the series 24-16, although the Gamecocks have won two of the last three outings, including the most recent matchup, a 65-57 Carolina victory in Lexington on Mar. 2, 2008. The Gamecocks are 5-14 against the Wildcats in Lexington, having lost the four meetings prior to last year’s win on UK’s homecourt. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 1-1 against Kentucky in her coaching career after her Temple Owls posted an 86-82 overtime victory over the Wildcats on Dec. 13, 2003, in Philadelphia. Kentucky took care of its home floor in the first matchup against Staley with a 64-55 victory on Nov. 17, 2001.

Injury Report
Senior Brionna Dickerson suffered a right knee injury against Vanderbilt on Jan. 25. She will be out at least one more week, at which point she will be re-evaluated. Senior Demetress Adams is out for the season after suffering a right knee injury at Ole Miss on Jan. 22.

A South Carolina Win Would …
• Be the Gamecocks’ second SEC win of the season.
• Be the Gamecocks’ second straight at Kentucky.
• Be head coach Dawn Staley’s second straight over Kentucky.

The Gold Standard
While head coach Dawn Staley has become synonymous with Olympic gold, the entire South Carolina coaching staff boasts a wealth of experience and achievement. Including assistant coaches Lisa Boyer, Carla McGhee and Nikki McCray, the Gamecock women’s basketball staff has combined for 39 years of coaching experience, 29 years of playing professionally in the United States, seven Olympic gold medals and two NCAA National Championships.

Sending Out an SOS
Through games of Feb. 2, South Carolina is ranked 12th in the nation in strength of schedule (SOS). In the SEC, only Tennessee (2) has played a tougher schedule than the Gamecocks so far this season. The other teams ahead of Carolina are Oklahoma (1), Maryland, Connecticut, Rutgers, Texas A&M, Texas, Stanford, Michigan, Florida State and Illinois.

Upping the Pace
Guard/forward C.J. Pace has raised her game since the injuries suffered by her fellow seniors. After not scoring in double digits since the start of SEC play, Pace has reached the plateau in each of the last two games, including a career-high 19 points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt on Jan. 25. Six of her 11 baskets in the last two games have come from behind the 3-point line as she has tied her career high with three 3-pointers in each game and hit 50.0 percent of her long range attempts. Pace has picked up her rebounding rate as well, snagging a team-high nine against the Commodores and pulling in seven against LSU. In all, she is averaging 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds over the last two games.

The Tate Gallery
Freshman guard Miranda Tate is another young player who will need to step up as the Gamecocks fill the injury holes. The six-foot newcomer had played in just two SEC games for a combined 10 minutes before Brionna Dickerson left the Vanderbilt game with an injury. Tate wasted little time making the most of her opportunity as she tied for team-high rebounding honors with a career-high hine and netted seven points on 3-of-4 shooting against the Commodores in just 15 minutes on the court. In 21 minutes against LSU, she again netted seven points, including her first 3-pointer since the Dec. 5 game against High Point, and added two steals and a blocked shot to the Gamecock effort.

Wiping the Glass
Freshman forward Charenee Stephens has been the Gamecocks’ leading rebounder in SEC play and ranks 14th in the league with 6.1 boards per conference game. She has reached double figures in two of the last four games – 11 boards at Tennessee and 12 at Ole Miss – and snagged a team-high nine against LSU. Her 12-rebound outing at Ole Miss is the 10th-best single-game output by a player in an SEC vs. SEC contest this season. She is one of just three freshmen and four total underclassmen (freshman or sophomore) to make the list. Arkansas’ Ceira Ricketts and LSU’s Ayana Dunning share the top spot among freshmen with 13 boards. Kentucky sophomore Victoria Dunlap has two entries on the list – 13 against Mississippi State and 12 at Alabama.

Flashy Frosh
Freshman guard Lakeisha Sutton is the Gamecocks’ third-leading scorer on the season and has stamped her name among the SEC’s top freshmen. She made her league debut with 17 points against No. 9/8 Auburn then went to Georgia and netted 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Sutton was a perfect 3-of-3 from 3-point range at No. 13/15 Tennessee en route to nine points and handed out a career-high seven assists at Ole Miss. Since league play began seven games ago, she has scored in double figures four times and netted nine points in two other games. So far in SEC play, Sutton averages 13.4 points to rank 13th in the league, fourth among SEC freshmen. She is also among the SEC’s top 15 in assists per game (3.7, 10th), free throw percentage (.733, 10th), steals per game (1.7, 10th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.8, 12th) through the first seven conference games.

Figuring Out February
South Carolina is 168-123 all-time in the month of February. The Gamecocks have twice gone undefeated in the second month of the year, posting a 7-0 record in the 1990-91 season and a 9-0 mark in the 1985-86 campaign. The 1977-78 squad recorded the most February wins with 11, finishing the month with an 11-1 slate. In the shortest month of the year, Carolina is 99-36 at home, 51-70 on the road and 12-9 at neutral sites (14 games in the Gamecock history books do not include the site of the contest, during which Carolina is 6-8). The Gamecocks have six games on their February calendar this season.

Judging January
The Gamecocks are 163-164 all-time in the month of January. South Carolina’s best record in the first month of the year came in the 1979-80 season when the Gamecocks were 10-1. In January, Carolina is 99-68 at home, 50-86 on the road and a perfect 4-0 at a neutral site (17 games in the Gamecock history books do not indicate the site of the contest, during which Carolina is 9-8.) The Gamecocks were 2-6 in their schedule of eight January games this season.

You Can Call Me Cocoa
Sophomore Lauren Falohun (Atlanta, Ga./Pace Academy) averages 3.3 points and 1.4 assists … drew the start and played a career-high 33 minutes against LSU, swiping a pair of steals … played 28 minutes and scored six points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt … added five points off the bench at Ole Miss … hit her first bucket in SEC play, a 3-pointer, against No. 19 Florida.

The Kennedy Legacy
Sophomore Samone Kennedy (Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay) has started 11 of the last 12 games … leads the team and is 12th in the SEC with 2.7 assists per game … is 12th in the league with 3.6 assists per SEC game and is ninth with a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio in league play … handed out a pair of assists in just eight minutes off the bench against LSU … led the team with three assists to go with five points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt … handed out four assists at Ole Miss … tied her season high with seven assists at No. 13/15 Tennessee … added 11 points, including a 3-pointer early in the game, and dished three assists against No. 19 Florida … handed out three assists and swiped two steals to go with six points at Georgia … played the full 40 minutes for the first time in her career against No. 9/8 Auburn, handing out three assists against just one turnover and scoring seven points.

Jewel of the Nile
Sophomore Jewel May (Conyers, Ga./Heritage) will wear jersey number 24 for the rest of the season in honor of senior Demetress Adams, who is out for the season with an injury … has grabbed 5.6 rebounds per game to go with 4.8 points per outing … has led the team in rebounding five times this season … tied her career high with two steals and snared four rebounds against LSU … grabbed six rebounds against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt … tied her career high with two blocked shots at No. 13/15 Tennessee and pulled down three offensive rebounds … grabbed a game-high eight rebounds at Georgia, including four on the offensive end … added six points and five rebounds, including three offensive, against No. 9/8 Auburn despite playing just 26 minutes due to foul trouble.

A Newton of Force
Redshirt freshman Courtney Newton (Flowery Branch, Ga./Flowery Branch) has played in 14 games after missing the first two games with a right knee injury … averages 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds … drew her first start of the season against LSU, scoring seven points, including a career-best 4-of-4 free throw showing … poured in 10 points, including a 3-pointer in the last second of the first half, and grabbed a career-high five rebounds at Ole Miss … hit the only shot she took, a 3-pointer, against No. 19 Florida.

Set the Pace
Senior C.J. Pace (Snellville, Ga./Chipola College) averages 6.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, 18th-best in the SEC on the boards … was in double figures for the second-straight game with 11 points, including three 3-pointers for the second-consecutive outing, to go with seven rebounds against LSU … scored a career-high 19 points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt and narrowly missed her second double-double of the season with a game-high tying nine rebounds, including a career-high five on the offensive end … grabbed eight rebounds, including a career-high four on the offensive end, and handed out a career-high three assists against No. 19 Florida … led the team with seven rebounds and scored six points against No. 9/8 Auburn.

CSI: Columbia
Freshman Charenee Stephens (Decatur, Ga./Southwest DeKalb) has played in every game since making her season debut on Dec. 28 after sitting out the first 10 games for personal reasons … led the team with nine rebounds against LSU, adding 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting … recorded her first career double-double with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds at Ole Miss … led the team with a career-high 11 rebounds, including five offensive, at No. 13/15 Tennessee while tying her career high with six points … scored a season-high six points against No. 19 Florida, going 3-of-4 from the field … netted four points and matched her season high with four rebounds at Georgia, playing 19 minutes … scored her first career points with a pair of baskets against No. 9/8 Auburn while adding three rebounds to the effort.

Jersey Girl
Freshman Lakeisha Sutton (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) is the team’s third-highest scorer with 10.2 points per game … is 12th in the SEC with a .671 free throw percentage … has scored in double figures 10 times, including five games with 15 or more points … is second on the team with 13.4 points per game in SEC play to rank 13th in the league (fourth among SEC freshmen) … has handed out 3.7 assists per game against SEC opponents, 10th-best in the league … netted a game-high 19 points on a career-high eight field goals against LSU … just missed reaching double figures for the 10th time this season with nine points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt … posted career highs of seven rebounds and seven assists at Ole Miss to go with 15 points … hit 3-of-3 from 3-point range at No. 13/15 Tennessee, just the third time in school history a freshman has shot that well from behind the arc … tied her season-high with five assists against No. 19 Florida, scoring seven points as well … sparked the offense late to finish with 18 points at Georgia, hitting 6-of-7 field goals to tie for fourth-best field goal percentage by a freshman in school history … poured in 17 points against No. 9/8 Auburn, including hitting 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.

Miranda Rights
Freshman Miranda Tate (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) is scoring 3.6 points and grabbing 2.1 rebounds per game … matched her career high with 21 minutes against LSU, scoring seven points and swiping a pair of steals … tied for game-high honors with a career-high nine rebounds against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt, playing just 15 minutes … also shot a career-best 75.0 percent (3-of-4) from the field for seven points against the Commodores … added a bucket at Georgia.

T Time
Freshman Tonia Williams (Warner Robins, Ga./Houston County) has come off the bench in five games this season.