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Jan. 20, 2010

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Game Information

LSU Series: LSU leads 19-3; In Baton Rouge: LSU leads 9-1; In Columbia: LSU leads 10-1; At Neutral Site: SC leads 1-0
Radio: WISW 1320 AM and (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Television: Cox Sports TV (Lyn Rolllins and Jordy Hultberg)

South Carolina Notables

  • This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
  • Three Gamecocks rank among the SEC’s top 10 in 3-point field goal percentage in league games – La’Keisha Sutton (2nd, .556), Valerie Nainima (4th, .533) and Ieasia Walker (6th, .500).
  • In SEC play only, South Carolina leads the league in 3-point percentage (.483) and ranks third in both field goal percentage (.461) and rebounding margin (+6.0)
  • In the Dawn Staley era, the Gamecocks are 10-3 when scoring at least 70 points, incluing a 6-2 mark this season.
  • Under Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 6-5 in games decided by five points or less.
  • South Carolina is 164-160 (.506) all-time in January, including a 96-70 (.578) mark at home.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be head coach Dawn Staley’s first over LSU and her 2004 Olympic coach Van Chancellor.
  • Be the Gamecocks’ first over LSU since a 76-61 decision in the 1998 SEC Tournament and just the program’s second victory in Baton Rouge.
  • Give the Gamecocks four SEC victories, doubling their total from last season and matching the 2008 total.

Last Time Out…
South Carolina used its inside-outside game to top Auburn 63-49 Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. Valerie Nainima hit a season-high six 3-pointers en route to 20 points, while Kelsey Bone kicked in 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. All but one of the nine Gamecocks that played scored at least two points with three adding six or more to the effort. South Carolina controlled the paint, out-scoring the Tigers 32-26 inside and out-rebounding them 38-31, and also showed better perimeter play, scoring eight 3-point field goals to just one for the Tigers.

The LSU Series
The Lady Tigers lead the series 19-3 and are winners of the last 13 meetings, including a 70-58 decision earlier this month in Columbia. South Carolina’s last win in the series was a 76-61 victory in the first round of the 1998 SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks have won one of the 10 all-time meetings in Baton Rouge – a 90-82 decision on Jan. 15, 1994.

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 plays 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 seventh-toughest in the nation (as of Jan. 19). Only Oklahoma, Stanford, Connecticut, Michigan State, Rutgers and Tennessee have faced a more strident challenge than South Carolina this season.

South Carolina’s RPI is among the highest in the SEC at 23 (as of Jan. 19). Ahead of the Gamecocks are Tennessee (3) and Georgia (11). Vanderbilt (25) and LSU (37) are just behind South Carolina, while Kentucky (47), Auburn (52), Mississippi State (70) and Florida (83) round out the list of league schools with an RPI inside the top 100.

Judging January
South Carolina is 164-160 all-time in the month of January, helped by a 96-70 (.578) 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 65-96 in the first calendar month. This season, the Gamecocks are 3-2 in January.

Thrice as Nice
The Gamecocks are shooting a league-best 48.3 percent from 3-point range through five SEC games this season. That accuracy is highlighted by an 8-of-12 showing by the Gamecocks at Alabama, which tied for the best outside shooting accuracy of the Dawn Staley era. For the season, South Carolina has hit 38.3 percent of its 3-point attempts (76-206) to rank second in the league and 13th in the nation. While junior Valerie Nainima has led the charge from beyond the arc in terms of volume, ranking fourth in the SEC and 20th in the nation by hitting 2.9 3-pointers per game, she is just one of three Gamecocks ranked in the league’s top 10 in 3-point percentage in league games. Sophomore La’Keisha Sutton leads the way at 55.6 percent (5-9) to rank second in the SEC. Nainima’s 53.3 percent (8-10) is fourth in the conference, and freshman Ieasia Walker rounds out the group in sixth place at 50.0 percent (6-12).

Heavenly 70s
South Carolina has scored in the 70s five times this season and is a perfect 5-0 in those games. In fact, 70 points appears to be an important threshold for the Gamecocks, who are 6-2 when scoring at least 70 points. Since Dawn Staley took the reins of the program, South Carolina is 10-3 in games in which it scores at least 70 points.

Knockin’ `Em Down
As the outside shooting has heated up, the Gamecocks’ overall field goal percentage has skyrocketed as well. South Carolina is third in the SEC with 46.1 percent accuracy from the field in league play. The team’s overall field goal percentage of .428 is fifth-best in the SEC and 66th-highest in the country.

In the Zone
The Gamecocks scorched the nets at Alabama, hitting 59.6 percent from the field for the game, including a sizzling 64.0 percent in the first half. The nearly 60 percent accuracy was the highest for a South Carolina team since 61.8 percent shooting delivered an 81-40 home victory over Hartford in the first round of the WNIT on March 18, 2007. It was the Gamecocks’ best percentage away from their home court since shooting 60.0 percent at East Carolina on Feb. 27, 1989.

Board Games
After winning the battle of the boards just once in its first five games, South Carolina has out-rebounded its opponent in 11 of its last 12 outings. Among those 11 games are an eight-rebound advantage over Auburn, which had out-rebounded its previous four SEC opponents by 11.5 per game, 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 are 7-3 in 10 nine games, during which they pulled down 41.3 rebounds per contest compared to 33.3 by their opponents.

Two Gamecocks Among Nation’s Best
In NCAA rankings through games of Jan. 17, junior guard Valerie Nainima and freshman center Kelsey Bone found themselves among the nation’s best in a total of three statistical categories. Nainima is 34th in the country in scoring average (18.5) and 20th in the nation in 3-point field goals made per game (2.9). Bone is the 32nd-highest rebounder in the country (9.9 rpg).

Our Pal Val
South Carolina guard Valerie Nainima has been the Gamecocks’ leading scorer nine times this season, during which the team has a 5-4 record. She has scored in double figures in every game this season, including six games with 20 or more points. Nainima led the team in scoring in each of the first three SEC games, netting 13 points against No. 11/12 LSU, 16 at No. 4/4 Tennessee and 21 at Alabama. Following a 14-point effort against Kentucky, she ranks eighth in the league with a 16.0 scoring average in league play. She is shooting 47.9 percent from the field in SEC games, including 47.6 percent from 3-point range.

Bone Chilling
Freshman center Kelsey Bone dominated the paint against Kentucky, neutralizing the Wildcats’ top post player, Victoria Dunlap, in the battle of the SEC’s only two players ranked among the league’s top 10 in both scoring and rebounding. Bone out-scored Dunlap 23-10, hitting 11-of-14 from the field, and snagged three more rebounds than her opponent. Bone has led the team in scoring 10 times and rebounding 12 times this season. Amassing five double-doubles so far, she averages just shy of that mark with 14.4 points and an SEC-best 9.9 rebounds per game.

Even Stephens
With five Gamecocks reaching double figures in each of the first two SEC victories of the season, sophomore forward Charenee Stephens has been among them both times (10 at Alabama, 11 vs. Kentucky). In the last outing, against Auburn, Stephens snatched seven of her eight rebounds off the offensive glass. In the five games played since turning the calendar to 2010, she has been in double figures in either points or rebounds three times. That production has put her among the SEC’s best as she ranks ninth in rebounding at 7.5 per game and fourth in field goal percentage (.575). Her 60.7 percent accuracy from the field in SEC play is second in the league.