Jan. 6, 2010
Tennessee Series: UT leads 38-1,In Knoxville: UT leads 18-0;In Columbia: UT leads 16-1;At Neutral Site: UT leads 4-0
Radio: WISW 1320 AM and GamecocksOnline.com (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Television: FSN (Dave Neal and Debbie Antonelli)
South Carolina Notables
- This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
- Under Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 6-5 in games decided by five points or less.
- South Carolina is fourth in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (.338) trailing league-leader Tennessee’s .379. The Gamecocks are sixth in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.291), just ahead of the Lady Vols’ .300.
- South Carolina ranks among the nation’s elite in the most recent strength of schedule standings. With 10 games against teams currently among the nation’s top 25 on the docket, the Gamecocks have the eighth-toughest schedule in the nation and the second-strongest in the SEC behind just Tennessee (2).
- The Gamecocks are 161-159 (.503) all-time in January, including a 94-70 (.573) mark at home.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Be the Gamecocks’ first over Tennessee since a 56-52 decision on Jan. 23, 1980, in Columbia.
- Be the program’s first over a top-five team since a 70-66 victory over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998, in Columbia.
- Bring the program within two wins of 600 in school history.
Last Time Out…
South Carolina could not rally back from a slow start in a 70-58 loss to No. 11/12 LSU in the SEC opener for both teams at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecock offense was stymied by turnovers and foul trouble to two of its primary scorers – Valerie Nainima and La’Keisha Sutton.
The Tennessee Series
The Lady Vols lead the series 38-1, including a perfect 18-0 mark at home against the Gamecocks. South Carolina’s lone win in the series was a 56-52 decision on Jan. 23, 1980, in Columbia. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 0-3 against the Lady Vols.
Strength of Schedule
Staley stuck to her philosophy of challenging her teams in November and December as a building block for success in January and beyond. The Gamecocks face 22 games against teams that participated in the 2009 postseason, including seven non-conference outings. South Carolina play 11 games against SEC teams that played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. As a result of those decisions by Staley, the Gamecocks’ schedule is currently ranked as the eighth-toughest in the nation (as of Jan. 3). Only Stanford, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Rutgers, UConn and Old Dominion are facing a more strident challenge than South Carolina this season.
South Carolina’s RPI is among the highest in the SEC at 45 (as of Jan. 1). Ahead of the Gamecocks are Tennessee (3), Georgia (8), LSU (15) and Vanderbilt (39). Kentucky (50) and Auburn (55) are just behind South Carolina, and Mississippi State (90) rounds out the list of league schools with an RPI inside the top 100.
South Carolina is 161-159 all-time in the month of January, helped by a 94-70 (.573) record in home games in the first month of the year. The Gamecocks’ best January was a 10-1 mark in the 1979-80 season. Since joining the SEC for the 1991-92 season, South Carolina is 62-95 in the first calendar month.
After winning the battle of the boards just once in its first five games, South Carolina has out-rebounded its opponent in each of the last eight outings. Among those games are an 11-rebound edge over No. 11/12 LSU, which had been out-rebounding opponents by 9.4 boards per game, a 20-rebound advantage over Brown and a two-rebound edge over North Carolina, which had been out-rebounding its opponents by 9.9 boards per game. The Gamecocks have gone 5-3 in this stretch of games, during which they are pulling down 42.4 rebounds per contest compared to 34.2 by their opponents.
South Carolina is 46-177 all-time against nationally-ranked opponents, including a 1-4 mark this season. The Gamecocks are 6-50 against teams ranked in the top five at the time of the game with all six of those wins coming on their home court. The last top-five team that South Carolina defeated was then-No. 5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998, by a score of 70-66.
Two Gamecocks Among Nation’s Best
In NCAA rankings through games of Jan. 3, junior guard Valerie Nainima and freshman center Kelsey Bone find themselves among the nation’s best in a total of three statistical categories. Nainima is 30th in the country in scoring average (18.8) and 35th in the nation in 3-point field goals made per game (2.7). Bone is the 26th-highest rebounder in the country (10.2 rpg).
Our Pal Val
South Carolina guard Valerie Nainima has been the Gamecocks’ leading scorer eight times this season, during which the team has a 5-3 record. Nainima has reached the 20-point plateau four times in the last eight games, leading the Gamecocks to two wins in those efforts. The lone losses were to No. 9/10 North Carolina, against which Nainima netted 26 points, and against Boston University, during which she netted 29 points. In last week’s Hawk Classic, Nainima averaged 23.0 points per game and was the team’s leading scorer in both games. She handed out 3.0 assists per game and shot 34.6 percent from the 3-point line in the two-game event to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. In the month of December, Nainima scored 22.0 points per game on 41.0 percent field goal shooting. She is one shy of the team lead in assists this month, handing out 2.8 per game.
The month of December was marked by solid efforts from freshman center Kelsey Bone. Leading the team in rebounding in all four games, she averaged 10.3 boards during the stretch while pouring in 15.3 points per contest. Her 27 points against No. 9/10 North Carolina led all scorers, and six of her 10 rebounds against the Tar Heels came on the offensive end. Her 15 rebounds against Boston U tied the program’s freshman record (Schonna Bonner vs. Southern Miss, 3/7/87). Ranked second in the SEC in rebounding (10.2) and ninth in scoring (14.1), Bone is one of just two players among the top 10 in both categories, joining Kentucky’s Victoria Dunlap (4th 17.5 ppg, 3rd 10.0 rpg). The last Gamecock to finish the season averaging a double-double was Marsha Williams in 1992-93 when she scored 13.6 points and grabbed 10.7 boards per game.
Gamecocks on TV
South Carolina will play at least 12 games on television in 2009-10, including a pair of SEC contests on the ESPN family of networks. The Gamecocks’ first four home games aired on SportSouth. Two SEC games will air on FSN (games air on FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Tennessee, FOX Sports Houston, FOX Sports Southwest and Sun Sports), one on CSS, one on Sun Sports and another one on the SEC Network. Additionally, FSN and the ESPN family of networks are teaming to broadcast every game of the SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga. So far this season, the Gamecocks are 4-1 in live television games.