Feb. 6, 2010
Georgia Series: UGA leads 28-4; In Athens: UGA leads 13-1; In Columbia: UGA leads 12-2; At Neutral Site: UGA leads 3-1
Radio: WISW 1320 AM and GamecocksOnline.com (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Television: CSS (Matt Stewart and Joe Ciampi)
South Carolina Notables
- This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
- The Gamecocks are 20th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.375).
- South Carolina committed a season-low eight turnovers at Auburn Thursday night, the first-time a Dawn Staley-led Gamecock squad stayed under double digits. South Carolina is 6-2 this season when committing equal or fewer turnovers than its opponents.
- In the last five games, the Gamecock defense has held opponents to just 59.2 points per game, allowing only LSU to eclipse the 60-point mark. Prior to this stretch, opponents had been netting 67.2 points per game.
- South Carolina is 7-3 this season when handing out 10 or more assists.
- South Carolina is 168-123 (.577) all-time in February, including a 98-34 (.742) mark at home.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Give the Gamecocks six SEC victories, the most since the 2006-07 squad also collected six.
- Be the Gamecocks’ second over a nationally-ranked team this season. South Carolina defeated then-No. 23/24 San Diego State 58-55 on Nov. 28 at the Paradise Jam.
- Be the Gamecocks’ first win over a top-15 team since an unranked South Carolina squad defeated then-No. 14 Minnesota on Dec. 13, 2005, in Columbia.
- Give South Carolina a road win over a top-15 team for the first time since the then-No. 9 Gamecocks defeated then-No. 15 Georgia 71-64 in Athens on Jan. 10, 2002.
- Bring Dawn Staley within five wins of her 200th as a head coach.
- Be the Gamecocks’ first over Georgia since sweeping the 2001-02 season series. South Carolina won at Georgia 71-64 on Jan. 10, 2002, and at home 64-59 on Feb. 7, 2002.
- Give the Gamecocks their first winning league record this late in the SEC season for the first time since the 2005-06 squad was 7-6 heading into its final regular-season game.
Last Time Out…
South Carolina survived a second-half offensive lull thanks to clutch offensive rebounding and free throw shooting from Jewel May to escape Auburn with a 61-58 victory Thursday night. Kelsey Bone posted her seventh double-double of the season with 24 points and 14 rebounds, one shy of her career high, and Valerie Nainima netted 20 points to set the stage for May’s late-game, decisive effort.
The Georgia Series
The Lady Bulldogs lead the series 28-4, including victories in the last nine meetings. The last time the South Carolina defeated Georgia was a 64-59 decision on Feb. 7, 2002, to close out a season sweep of the Lady Bulldogs. The Gamecocks also posted a 71-64 win in Athens on Jan. 10, 2002. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 1-2 against Georgia. Her lone win in the series came on Dec. 19, 2005, when her Temple Owls upset then-No. 17 Georgia 69-66 in overtime in Philadelphia.
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 eighth-toughest in the nation (as of Feb. 5). Only Rutgers, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Stanford, Michigan State, Tennessee and Texas have faced a more strident challenge than South Carolina this season.
South Carolina’s RPI is among the highest in the SEC at 32 (as of Feb. 5). Ahead of the Gamecocks are Tennessee (3), Georgia (14), Kentucky (22) and Vanderbilt (24). LSU (33) and Mississippi State (47) are just behind South Carolina, while Auburn (57), Florida (89) and Ole Miss (93) round out the list of league schools with an RPI inside the top 100.
Figuring Out February
South Carolina is 169-123 (.579) all-time in the month of February, thanks in large part to a 98-34 (.742) record in Columbia. The Gamecocks are 54-77 on the road and 12-7 in neutral games. (There are 10 games for which the site is unknown.) The Gamecocks have been perfect in February twice in their 35 seasons of women’s basketball, the most recent was a 7-0 mark in 1991 and the first was a 9-0 stretch in 1986. This season, South Carolina is 1-0 so far this month.
Home Sweet Home
South Carolina boasts a .695 all-time winning percentage (324-142) 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 78-44 (.639) in the building, including a 7-2 mark this season.
Living in the League
Including a 5-5 mark this season, South Carolina is 72-174 in SEC games since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. The Gamecocks are 46-74 in regular-season SEC games played in Columbia. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley boasts a 106-42 record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple team to a 99-25 Atlantic 10 record. She is 7-17 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 three appearances among the league’s top three. The Gamecocks lead the SEC in 3-point field goal shooting, hitting 40.9 percent from beyond the arc in league play. They are third in rebounding margin, pulling in 2.5 more boards per game than their SEC opponents, and shooting 42.7 percent from the field in league play, puts them in fourth. The Gamecocks are sixth in the league in scoring, netting 63.0 points per SEC game.
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 7-3 this season when handing out 10 or more assists. South Carolina has shot over 50 percent from the field three times this season. In each of 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 4-7 when the duo accounts for at least 50.0 percent of the team’s points.
Thrice as Nice
The Gamecocks are shooting 40.9 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 37.5 percent of its 3-point attempts (105-280) to rank second in the league and 20th 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 15th in the nation by hitting 3.0 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 57.9 percent from behind the arc through 10 SEC contests. Nainima’s 41.3 percent long-range shooting in conference play is eighth-highest in the league.
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 42.7 percent accuracy from the field in league play. The team’s overall field goal percentage of .420 is fifth-best in the SEC.
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.
Bone Chilling…for Opponents That Is
South Carolina center Kelsey Bone has proven to be among the SEC’s top freshmen, leading the conference in rebounding (9.5) and ranking seventh in scoring (14.8). Bone’s rebounding average ranks 39th in the nation and fourth nationally among freshmen. She has seven double-doubles this season and has snagged double-digit rebounds 10 times. Bone has scored in double figures 17 times, including five 20-point affairs and her career-high 32 at Clemson in the second game of the season.
Sophmore La’Keisha Sutton has been a key catalyst of the Gamecock offense in the last five games. She has netted double figures four times over that stretch, and she leads the team in assists (3.4 apg). She has hit 43.3 percent from the field, including 60.0 percent from 3-point range, and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7. For the season Sutton is third on the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game, 25th-best in the SEC. Her 11.5 ppg in league play ranks her 24th in the conference, and her 57.9 percent accuracy from 3-point range against SEC teams leads the league.
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 seven games with 20 or more points. Nainima is fourth in the SEC with 17.5 points per game and ranks 15th in the nation in 3-point field goals per game at 3.0.
In the 10 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 13th in rebounding at 6.8 per game and is second in the league in field goal percentage (.608). Her 66.7 percent accuracy from the field in SEC play is a league high. The Gamecocks are most successful when Stephens is at her best on the offensive end as she scores 6.1 more points per game in South Carolina wins than losses. The Gamecocks are a perfect 6-0 when Stephens scores in double figures.