Jan. 30, 2010
Tennessee Series: UT leads 39-1; In Columbia: UT leads 16-1; In Knoxville: UT leads 19-0; At Neutral Site: UT leads 4-0
Radio: WISW 1320 AM and GamecocksOnline.com (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Television: SEC Network (Cara Capuano and Robin Muller) If you don’t get SEC Network, click here to see if a local TV station is airing the game.
South Carolina Notables
- This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
- South Carolina is one of just two SEC teams (Auburn is the other) that have two players ranked among the league’s top 10 scorers and the league’s top 10 rebounders – Nainima (4th) and Bone (9th) in scoring, Bone (2nd) and Stephens (9th) in rebounding.
- In SEC games only, Gamecocks have both the player with the highest field goal percentage (Stephens, .675) and 3-point percentage (Sutton, .571).
- South Carolina is 7-2 this season when handing out 10 or more assists.
- In the Dawn Staley era, the Gamecocks are 10-3 when scoring at least 70 points, including a 6-2 mark this season.
- South Carolina is 165-162 (.505) all-time in January, including a 97-70 (.581) mark at home.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Give the Gamecocks five SEC victories, the most since the 2008 squad collected six.
- Bring Dawn Staley within six wins of her 200th as a head coach.
- Be the Gamecocks’ first over Tennessee since a 56-52 victory on Jan. 23, 1980, in Columbia.
- Be the Gamecocks’ sixth all-time against a top-five team playing in Columbia and their first over a top-five team since a 70-66 win over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998, in Columbia.
Last Time Out…
South Carolina used efficient offense and stalwart defense to post a 64-50 win over Ole Miss Thursday night. Coming in tied for first in the SEC and touting the league’s top scorer, the Rebels netted 14 points fewer than their previous season-low offensive output. In addition to their aggressive defense, the Gamecocks had four players reach double figures, led by Valerie Nainima’s 17 points, which included five 3-pointers. La’Keisha Sutton paced the team with six assists, while Nainima added four.
The Tennessee Series
The Lady Vols lead the series 39-1 after posting a 79-62 victory over the Gamecocks earlier this month in Knoxville. Tennessee is 16-1 against South Carolina in Columbia. South Carolina’s lone win in the series was a 56-52 decision on Jan. 23, 1980, as the then-No. 8 Gamecocks upset then-No. 4 Tennessee in Columbia.
South Carolina is 165-162 all-time in the month of January, helped by a 97-70 (.581) record in home games. 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 66-98 in the first calendar month. This season, the Gamecocks are 4-4 in January.
Home Sweet Home
South Carolina boasts a .697 all-time winning percentage (324-141) in games played in Columbia. The Gamecocks’ best season at home was the 2001-02 campaign with a 17-1 record in the first season in what is now known as Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina is 78-43 (.645) in the building, including a 7-1 mark this season.
Living in the League
Including a 4-4 mark this season, South Carolina is 71-173 in SEC games since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. The Gamecocks are 46-73 in regular-season SEC games played in Columbia. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley boasts a 108-45 record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple team to a 107-45 Atlantic 10 record. She is 9-20 in her second season in the SEC.
On the Rise
Looking at the statistical breakdown for SEC games this season, South Carolina ranks among the top half of the league in four key categories, including two appearances among the league’s top three. The Gamecocks lead the SEC in 3-point field goal shooting, hitting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc in league play, and are third in rebounding margin, pulling in 4.5 more boards than their SEC opponents. Shooting 43.9 percent from the field in league play, South Carolina is fourth, and the Gamecocks are the sixth-highest scoring team in league play, netting 64.2 points per game.
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 (68.7) as in losses (66.0) and shooting in the same ballpark as well – 44.7 percent in wins versus 39.8 percent in losses. The difference in winning and losing has come on the defensive end of the court. In 11 wins this season, South Carolina has allowed opponents just 57.8 points per game on 36.3 percent shooting. In nine losses, opponents have poured in 76.1 points per game on 45.0 percent shooting. The Gamecocks have allowed just two opponents more than 66 points in a South Carolina victory – NC State and Kentucky. Only three opponents have scored fewer than 70 points in defeating the Gamecocks this season – Boston University, LSU and Florida. Additionally, South Carolina has swiped 2.9 more steals per game in wins (8.5) versus losses (5.9). The stats tell the story with one caveat – six of the Gamecocks’ nine 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 7-2 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.
Dealing in Diversity
Like all good investments, South Carolina is best when it is diversified. The Gamecock offense this season is built around the inside-outside, primarily with junior guard Valerie Nainima and freshman center Kelsey Bone. While those two players are among the SEC’s best, the Gamecocks are just 3-6 when the duo accounts for at least 50.0 percent of the team’s points.
Thrice as Nice
The Gamecocks are shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range in SEC play to lead the league. 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 37.2 percent of its 3-point attempts (92-247) 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 fourth in the SEC and 20th in the nation by hitting 2.9 3-pointers per game. She is not the team’s 3-point percentage leader in SEC games, however. That honor falls to sophomore La’Keisha Sutton who is hitting an SEC-best 57.1 percent from behind the arc through eight SEC contests. Nainima’s 45.5 percent long-range shooting in conference play is third-highest in the league.
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 43.9 percent accuracy from the field in league play. The team’s overall field goal percentage of .424 is fifth-best in the SEC.
Our Pal Val
South Carolina guard Valerie Nainima has been the Gamecocks’ leading scorer 10 times this season, during which the team has a 6-4 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 45.5 percent from 3-point range in SEC games, which is third-best in the league.
In the eight games played since turning the calendar to 2010, sophomore Charenee Stephens has been in double figures in either points or rebounds five times. That production has put her among the SEC’s best as she ranks ninth in rebounding at 7.3 per game and second in field goal percentage (.609). Her 67.5 percent accuracy from the field in SEC play is leads the league. The Gamecocks are most successful when Stephens is most effective on the offensive end as she scores 7.6 more points per game in South Carolina wins than losses. The Gamecocks are a perfect 6-0 when Stephens scores in double figures.