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Feb. 21, 2009

South Carolina at No. 15/15 Florida | 1 p.m.
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Last Time Out
Senior C.J. Pace scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the second half to lead South Carolina to a 68-57 win over Alabama last Sunday. The Gamecocks went on an 18-6 run in the final six minutes to collect their first home SEC win of the season. Teamwork was the order of the day as Carolina tallied a season-best 20 assists on its 24 field goals in the outing.

Series Notes
Florida leads the series 17-8 after winning three of the last four meetings, including the matchup earlier this season. Last season, the teams met three times with the Gators winning twice. Florida topped South Carolina 71-57 in the 2008 SEC Tournament on March 6, less than two weeks after the Gamecocks had knocked off Florida 69-65 in Gainesville. Florida opened the season series with a narrow 60-57 win in Columbia. The Gamecocks are 4-5 against the Gators in Gainesville but have won the last two times they played in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The last time the home fans cheered their Gators to a win over South Carolina was a 61-56 victory on Jan. 22, 2004. Florida has been nationally ranked in nine games against the Gamecocks and have an 8-1 record in those outings. South Carolina pulled off a 69-59 win over the then-No. 15 Gators on Feb. 3, 2002, in Gainesville. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has a longer history with Florida than any other SEC team, posting a 1-5 record against the Gators. Her lone win was an 85-80 overtime victory for Temple on Jan. 2, 2007, in Gainesville.

Injury Report
Senior Brionna Dickerson is out for the season after suffering a right knee 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 …
• Be the Gamecocks’ first over a nationally-ranked team since topping then-No. 14 Minnesota 79-61 on Dec. 13, 2005, in Columbia.
• Be the Gamecocks’ first over a nationally-ranked SEC team since beating then-No. 13 Arkansas 83-59 on Feb. 16, 2003, in Columbia.
• Be head coach Dawn Staley’s first coaching win over a nationally-ranked team since she led Temple to a 48-47 victory at then-No. 9 Rutgers on Jan. 19, 2006 – the highest-ranked team she has defeated in her career.
• Be the Gamecocks’ second in a row, the team’s first multi-game win streak since finishing the non-conference season with wins over Jacksonville and NC State.
• Be the Gamecocks’ third straight in Gainesville.

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.

To Three or Be Free
For South Carolina this season, a one-point free throw has been far move valuable than a 3-pointer when it comes to posting victories. The Gamecocks are just 1-8 on the season when attempting the same number or fewer free throws than 3-point field goals in a game, meaning that nine of the team’s 10 wins have been with the Gamecocks toeing the charity stripe. While senior Brionna Dickerson was among the SEC’s top 3-point shooters prior to her injury, South Carolina is just 2-8 when attempting 15 or more long-range shots and just 3-7 when making five or more 3-pointers. The Gamecocks are an even 7-7 when connecting on fewer than five 3-pointers in the game.

Get By With a Little Help From My Friends
The Gamecocks’ 20 assists on 24 field goals against Alabama was the most a South Carolina team has dished out since March 18, 2007, when the Gamecocks used 23 helpers to knock off Hartford 81-40 in the second round of the WNIT. Both those games are a far cry from the single-game school record of 35 assists, which came in a 111-36 win over UNC Asheville on Feb. 24, 1986.

Flashy Frosh
Freshman guard Lakeisha Sutton is the Gamecocks’ second-leading scorer and ranks 23rd in the SEC at 10.8 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 four of the last five. So far in SEC play, Sutton averages 13.6 points to rank 11th in the league, tops among SEC freshmen. Sutton is also among the SEC’s top 15 in assists per game (4.1, 7th), free throw percentage (.766, 6th) and steals per game (1.4, 14th) through the first 11 conference games.

Wiping the Glass
Freshman forward Charenee Stephens has been the Gamecocks’ leading rebounder in SEC play and ranks 14th in the league with 6.0 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 seven games since Adams suffered her injury, Newton is averaging 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 32.0 (8-of-25) percent from 3-point range. In the absence of Adams in the Jan. 22 game at Ole Miss, Newton grabbed a then-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 each of the last two games, Newton pulled down a career-best six rebounds.

Figuring Out February
South Carolina is 169-126 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 1-3 so far.

You Can Call Me Cocoa
Sophomore Lauren Falohun (Atlanta, Ga./Pace Academy) averages 3.3 points and 1.5 assists … handed out four assists and tied her career high with five rebounds against Alabama … 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 15 of the last 16 games … leads the team with 2.5 assists per game and scores 5.3 points per game … is 14th in the league with 2.7 assists per SEC game … swiped a pair of steals and netted eight points against Alabama … 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) is wearing 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 5.4 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 four games … picked up a pair of steals against Alabama … 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 18 games, including four starts in the last five outings, after missing the first two games with a right knee injury … averages 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds … is scoring 6.3 points and grabbing 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 32.0 percent from 3-point range since the Jan. 22 game at Ole Miss … matched her career high with six rebounds and handed out a season-high four assists against Alabama … 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 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds, 18th-best in the SEC on the boards … scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the second half against Alabama and narrowly missed a double-double with a game-high nine rebounds, including six offensive … 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 4.4 points and 5.1 rebounds … is 14th in the league with 6.0 rebounds per SEC game … netted a career-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting in just 24 minutes against Alabama … 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 top active scorer with 10.8 points per game to rank 27th in the SEC … is 11th in the SEC with a .696 free throw percentage … has scored in double figures 13 times with eight games with 15 or more points, including four of the last five … is second on the team with 13.6 points per game in SEC play to rank 11th in the league (tops among SEC freshmen) … has handed out 4.1 assists per game against SEC opponents, seventh-best in the league … dished out a team-high six assists to go with seven points and five rebounds against Alabama … 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 3.3 points and grabbing 1.9 rebounds per game … hit a season-best 2-of-3 from 3-point range for six points against Alabama … 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 nine games, including a start at Arkansas … hit a season-best three free throws en route to five points in just 10 minutes against Alabama … 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.