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Feb. 14, 2009

South Carolina vs. Alabama | 3 p.m.
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Last Time Out
With neither team able to take control in a tight second half, Arkansas hit timely shots down the stretch to scratch out a 58-54 win over South Carolina at Bud Walton Arena Thursday night. The Gamecocks had a chance to tie or take the lead twice in the final 20 seconds but could not connect, and the Razorbacks hit 3-of-4 free throws to seal the win.

Series Notes
Alabama leads the series 15-10, although South Carolina has won four of the last six meetings. The Crimson Tide scored a 65-54 win in last season’s SEC opener for both teams in Tuscaloosa to snap a three-game skid to the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks hold a narrow 6-5 edge in games played in Columbia and have won the last four meetings on their home court. The Crimson Tide’s last win in Columbia was a 69-67 victory on Feb. 17, 2000. Head coach Dawn Staley has not coached against Alabama in her career.

Injury Report
Senior Brionna Dickerson will rehab her right knee injury for at least another week after a re-evaluation last Sunday showed good progress. She suffered the injury against Vanderbilt on Jan. 25. Senior Demetress Adams is out for the season after successful right knee surgery on Feb. 4 to repair an injury she suffered at Ole Miss on Jan. 22.

A South Carolina Win Would …
• Snap a five-game losing streak.
• Be the Gamecocks’ first home win since a 58-50 win over Jacksonville on Dec. 30, 2008.

Ticket Information
Season tickets are available at two prices. Fans who purchase four season tickets qualify for the Family 4-Pack pricing at $100. Fans who purchase fewer than four pay the full price of $50 per season ticket. Single-game tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for youth (18 and under). For more information or to order tickets, contact the South Carolina Ticket Office toll free at 800-4SC-FANS or locally at 803-777-4274. Fans can also order tickets via the athletics web site,

Reading Heroes
The women’s basketball ìRead with the Gamecocksî program welcomed 103 elementary schools from the State of South Carolina this year. The 4,395 students involved read 1.9 million pages over the winter break (Dec. 15 to Jan. 4), and the winner from each school will be recognized on the court at halftime of today’s game. Schools from Greenville/Spartanburg to Charleston and Myrtle Beach were involved this year, including the South Carolina School for the Blind.

Tickled Pink!
South Carolina is one of 1,250 teams around the country that are participating in the WBCA’s 2009 Pink Zone initiative. A global, unified effort to help raise breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond, schools are participating in the initiative in various ways. The Gamecocks raised funds for the Kay Yow/WBCA Breast Cancer Fund through the Piggy Bank Program and a silent auction at the Feb. 8 game against Ole Miss. Thanks to the generosity of Gamecock fans, the University of South Carolina contributed nearly $3,300 to the fight against breast cancer.

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.

Home Sweet Home
South Carolina has won 38.5 percent of its games inside the friendly confines of Colonial Life Arena compared to winning just 25 percent of its games in a hostile arena. When looking key stats for home games versus road games, the Gamecock offense is the difference, scoring 61.8 points per game in Columbia versus just 56.4 points on the road. While Carolina’s 3-point shooting percentage goes down at home, its overall field goal percentage shoots way up from 34.9 percent on the road to 40.5 percent at home with the team taking just one more shot per game on its home floor. South Carolina makes two more free throws per game at home versus on the road. The differential of other stats has been negligible this season as the team averages the same number of rebounds at home and on the road (36.5) and allow opponents 64.7 points per game in Colonial Life Arena versus 63.5 points per game outside Columbia. The closeness of those figures are even more impressive when considering that five of the Gamecocks’ six games against nationally-ranked opponents have come at home. Individually, all but one Gamecock seems to markedly prefer scoring in front of the home fans as every one but Brionna Dickerson posts a higher scoring average inside Colonial Life Arena than in hostile territory. Dickerson averages 17.0 points on 44.7 percent 3-point shooting on the road versus her 11.1 points per game and 29.4 percent 3-point shooting on the road.

Diagnosing the Injury Bug
In a three-day stretch, South Carolina lost both of its leading scorers – Demetress Adams and Brionna Dickerson – for all or part of the season, and, while some players have raised their individual point production, the offense has suffered mightily during the Gamecocks’ five-game skid since Dickerson’s injury early in the Vanderbilt game. Carolina is scoring 4.2 points per game fewer in the last five games compared to the 18 games during which at least one of those two players completed the contest (55.6 ppg vs. 59.8 ppg). The Gamecocks have scored more than 56 points just once during the current slide. The team is taking two more shots per game without the high-scoring duo (56.2 FGs/gm vs. 54.2 FGs/gm) but is shooting 30 percent lower than prior to the injuries (36.7 FG% vs. 39.7 FG%). The other key difference has come at the free throw line where the Gamecocks are taking 4.8 fewer free throw attempts per game in the last five outings compared the first 18 contests of the season (14.2 vs. 19.0). On the positive side, Carolina has narrowed its turnover margin from -3.8 with the pair of seniors in the lineup to -0.8 in the last five games.

Flashy Frosh
Freshman guard Lakeisha Sutton is the Gamecocks’ second-leading scorer and ranks 23rd in the SEC at 11.0 points per game. She immediately stamped her name among the SEC’s elite freshmen with 17 points in her league debut against No. 9/8 Auburn. She has scored in double figures in 13 games with eight of those with 15 or more points, including each of the last four. So far in SEC play, Sutton averages 14.3 points to rank seventh in the league, tops among SEC freshmen. No Gamecock freshman has averaged 14.0 or more points in league play since Carolina joined the SEC for the 1991-92 season. Sutton is also among the SEC’s top 10 in assists per game (3.9, 8th), free throw percentage (.756, 7th) and steals per game (1.5, 11th) through the first 10 conference games.

Wiping the Glass
Freshman forward Charenee Stephens has been the Gamecocks’ leading rebounder in SEC play and ranks 12th in the league with 6.2 boards per conference game. She has reached double figures in rebounds twice since league play began – 11 boards at Tennessee and 12 at Ole Miss – and snagged a team-high nine against LSU, seven both against Ole Miss and at Arkansas. The Gamecocks have not had a freshman average more than 6.0 rebounds per game in SEC play since Iva Sliskovic grabbed 7.0 per game in 2003-04.

Court Presence
While no player relishes profiting from a teammate’s loss, redshirt-freshman Courtney Newton has made the most of her increased playing time since the injuries to seniors Demetress Adams and Brionna Dickerson. A tough player who will mix it up on the block and hit the outside shot, Newton has contributed to the Gamecock effort in every way possible. In the six games since Adams suffered her injury, Newton is averaging 6.8 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range. In the absence of Adams in the Jan. 22 game at Ole Miss, Newton grabbed a career-high five rebounds and scored 10 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and sinking 4-of-6 from the free throw line. It was her first double-figure scoring game of the season. She scored nine points at Kentucky and picked up a career-high three steals then topped both those efforts with a season-high 12 points and a career-high four steals against Ole Miss. In her last game, Newton pulled down a career-best six rebounds.

In Colonial Times
While the Gamecocks’ home court may have taken on a new name, South Carolina continues to enjoy a decisive advantage in Colonial Life Arena. Despite a loss in the 2008-09 home opener, South Carolina has won 63.4 percent (71-41) of its games at the facility. The Gamecocks won a high of 15 games in the building in the 2006-07 season and lost a record-low two games in 16 home contests in 2002-03. In non-conference games, South Carolina has a 53-11 record in Colonial Life Arena for a .828 winning percentage.

Figuring Out February
South Carolina is 168-126 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 and are 0-3 so far.

You Can Call Me Cocoa
Sophomore Lauren Falohun (Atlanta, Ga./Pace Academy) averages 3.3 points and 1.3 assists … hit 5-of-6 from the free throw line, both career-best numbers, at Kentucky and played a career-high 35 minutes … drew the start 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 14 of the last 15 games … leads the team with 2.5 assists per game and scores 5.1 points per game … is 14th in the league with 2.8 assists per SEC game … added nine points and three rebounds at Arkansas … picked up three steals against Ole Miss … swiped three steals to go with five points and two assists at Kentucky … 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 4.7 points per outing … has led the team in rebounding seven times this season, including two of the last three games … swiped a career-high two steals at Arkansas … netted 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting to go with a team-high eight rebounds, including four offensive, against Ole Miss … paced the team with eight rebounds at Kentucky … 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 17 games, including three starts in the last four outings, after missing the first two games with a right knee injury … averages 3.0 points and 2.2 rebounds … is scoring 6.8 points and grabbing 3.0 rebounds per game while shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range since the Jan. 22 game at Ole Miss … pulled down a career-high six rebounds at Arkansas … scored a season-high 12 points and picked up a career-high four steals against Ole Miss … netted nine points and swiped a career-high three steals at Kentucky … 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 5.7 rebounds, 18th-best in the SEC on the boards … hit a career-high five free throws on six attempts en route to 10 points at Arkansas, swiping a career-high three steals as well … added eight points and six rebounds at Kentucky … 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 … is averaging 3.6 points and 5.2 rebounds … is 12th in the league with 6.2 rebounds per SEC game … was second on the team with seven rebounds in just 12 minutes at Arkansas … grabbed seven rebounds against Ole Miss, her third-straight game with five or more boards … made her debut in the starting lineup at Kentucky, snagging five rebounds … 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 second-highest scorer with 11.0 points per game to rank 23rd in the SEC … is 11th in the SEC with a .688 free throw percentage … has scored in double figures 13 times with eight games with 15 or more points, including each of the last four … is second on the team with 14.3 points per game in SEC play to rank seventh in the league (tops among SEC freshmen) … has handed out 3.9 assists per game against SEC opponents, eighth-best in the league … netted 15 points and handed out a team-high five assists at Arkansas … tied her career high with seven assists against Ole Miss to go with a team-high 19 points, including the last four points that put the team up by one with nine seconds left … led the team with 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting at Kentucky, playing just 22 foul-plagued minutes … 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 3.0 points and grabbing 1.6 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 played in eight games, including a start at Arkansas … led the team with eight rebounds to go with 13 points, both career highs, at Arkansas, shooting 6-of-9 from the field … had a solid game against Ole Miss, scoring 11 points, including a Hail Mary 3-pointer at the first-half horn, and grabbing six rebounds in just 15 minutes of action … played at Kentucky for the first time in two months, grabbing a pair of rebounds.