Jan. 23, 2010
Florida Series: UF leads 18-8; In Gainesville: UF leads 7-5; In Columbia: UF leads 9-3; At Neutral Site: UF leads 2-0
Radio: WISW 1320 AM and GamecocksOnline.com (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Television: Sun Sports (Mick Hubert and Mark Wise)
South Carolina Notables
- This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
- Two Gamecocks rank among the SEC’s top 10 in 3-point field goal percentage in league games – Valerie Nainima (3rd, .472) and Ieasia Walker (4th, .462).
- In SEC play only, South Carolina is second in the league in 3-point percentage (.473) and ranks third in rebounding margin (+3.8).
- South Carolina is 6-2 this season when handing out 10 or more assists.
- The South Carolina defense has yielded 19.6 points per game more in losses than it has in wins this season.
- In the Dawn Staley era, the Gamecocks are 10-3 when scoring at least 70 points, incluing a 6-2 mark this season.
- Under Staley, the Gamecocks are 6-5 in games decided by five points or less.
- South Carolina is 164-161 (.505) all-time in January, including a 96-70 (.578) mark at home.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Give the Gamecocks four SEC victories, doubling their total from last season and matching the 2008 total.
- Bring Dawn Staley within seven wins of her 200th as a head coach.
- End a three-game skid to the Gators, becoming the first victory over Florida since a 69-65 win on Feb. 24, 2008, in Gainesville.
Last Time Out…
South Carolina suffered its coldest shooting night since playing at then-No. 4 Tennessee in a 69-52 loss at No. 18/19 LSU Thursday night. The Gamecocks were held to season-lows in points and rebounds and were out-rebounded (37-30) for the first time in foure games. South Carolina’s inside-outside game lacked its recent outside punch as the Gamecocks hit just 2-of-11 from 3-point range but beat the Lady Tigers in the paint 30-22.
The Florida Series
The Gators hold an 18-8 edge in the all-time series, although the Gamecocks have defeated Florida on its homecourt more than any other place. South Carolina trails the Gators 5-7 in Gainesville and have won just three of 12 meetings in Columbia. Florida swept the 2008-09 season series, including an 82-66 victory in Gainesville. Prior to that, the Gamecocks had won the last three meetings on the Gators’ home floor.
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 fifth-toughest in the nation (as of Jan. 21). Only Oklahoma, Connecticut, Stanford 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 25 (as of Jan. 22). Ahead of the Gamecocks are Tennessee (3), Georgia (10) and Vanderbilt (21). LSU (27) is just behind South Carolina, while Kentucky (44), Auburn (58), Mississippi State (79), Mississippi (88) and Florida (99) round out the list of league schools with an RPI inside the top 100.
Coaches have long lauded the importance of defense in relation to winning. For the Gamecocks, the correlation is strong. South Carolina is scoring roughly the same number of points per game in wins (69.2) as in losses (67.2) and shooting in the same ballpark as well – 44.4 percent in wins versus 40.6 percent in losses. The difference in winning and losing has come on the defensive end of the court. In 10 wins this season, South Carolina has allowed opponents just 58.6 points per game on 36.1 percent shooting. In eight losses, opponents have poured in 78.2 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting. The Gamecocks have allowed just two opponents more than 66 points in a South Carolina victory – NC State and Kentucky. Only two opponents have scored fewer than 70 points in defeating the Gamecocks this season – Boston University and LSU. Additionally, South Carolina has swiped 3.0 more steals per game in wins (8.9) versus losses (5.9). The stats tell the story with one caveat – six of the Gamecocks’ eight losses have come against nationally-ranked teams.
Get By With a Little Help…
Teamwork being another staple of the Dawn Staley coaching philosophy, it should come as no surprise that the Gamecocks are 6-2 this season when handing out 10 or more assists. South Carolina has shot over 50 percent from the field three times this season. In the first two outings of that accuracy (North Carolina and Alabama), the Gamecocks handed out a season-high 19 assists. In the third game (Kentucky), the team amassed 14 assists.
Thrice as Nice
Despite struggling from long range at LSU, the Gamecocks are shooting 43.5 percent from 3-point range in SEC play to rank second in the leauge. 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 37.3 percent of its 3-point attempts (81-217) to rank second in the league and 24th in the nation.
Inside the Outside Numbers
Junior Valerie Nainima has led South Carolina’s charge from beyond the arc in terms of volume, ranking fifth in the SEC and 26th in the nation by hitting 2.8 3-pointers per game. She is just one of two Gamecocks ranked in the league’s top 10 in 3-point percentage in SEC games. Nainima’s 47.2 percent (17-36) is third in the conference, and freshman Ieasia Walkeris tied for fourth at 46.2 percent (6-13).
Knockin’ `Em Down
As the outside shooting has heated up, the Gamecocks’ overall field goal percentage has skyrocketed as well. South Carolina is fourth in the SEC with 45.2 percent accuracy from the field in league play. The team’s overall field goal percentage of .427 is fifth-best in the SEC and 65th-highest in the country.
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 13 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 8-3 in those 11 games, during which they pulled down 40.9 rebounds per contest compared to 33.2 by their opponents.
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 all but one 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. She ranks seventh in the league with a 14.8 scoring average in league play. She is shooting 45.1 percent from the field in SEC games, including 47.2 percent from 3-point range, which is third-best in the league.
In the five games played since turning the calendar to 2010, sophomore Charenee Stephens 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 10th in rebounding at 7.2 per game and fifth in field goal percentage (.573). Her 60.0 percent accuracy from the field in SEC play is fourth in the league. The Gamecocks are most successful when Stephens is most effective. She pulls in 2.4 more rebounds and scores 7.6 more points per game in South Carolina wins than losses. The difference comes largely on the back of Stephens’ ability to reel in offensive rebounds. In the Gamecocks’ 10 wins this season, 29 of Stephens’ 59 rebounds have come on the offensive end, compared to just 18 of her 42 rebounds in South Carolina’s eight losses.