Feb. 20, 2010
Kentucky Series: UK leads 26-17; In Lexington: UK leads 15-5; In Columbia: SC leads 12-8; At Neutral Site: UK leads 3-0
Radio: WISW 1320 AM and GamecocksOnline.com (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Television: FSN (Dave Baker and Carol Ross
South Carolina Notables
- This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
- Kelsey Bone’s eight double-doubles are the most by a Gamecock freshman since Sheila Foster posted 13 in 1978-79.
- Sophomore La’Keisha Sutton leads the team with 3.0 assists per SEC game after handing out just 1.5 assists per non-conference game. Her scoring production has remained the same – 10.8 points per game.
- The Gamecocks are 32nd in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.363).
- South Carolina has two wins over nationally-ranked teams for the first time since the 2002-03 season, during which the Gamecocks were also ranked for most of the season. South Carolina was 4-7 against ranked teams that season.
- South Carolina is 170-125 (.576) all-time in February, including a 98-36 (.731) mark at home and a 55-77 slate on the road.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Give the Gamecocks seven SEC victories, the most since the 2005-06 squad also collected seven. The 2001-02 squad collected a school-record 10 SEC wins.
- Bring Dawn Staley within four wins of her 200th as a head coach.
- Give the Gamecocks two road wins over nationally-ranked teams for the first time since the 2001-02 team topped both then-No. 15 Florida and then-No. 15 Georgia in road games. The Gamecocks were ranked 11th and ninth, respectively, in those two games.
- Be the Gamecocks’ second-straight over Kentucky, avenging last season’s two-game sweep at the hands of the Wildcats.
- Give the Gamecocks a pair of two-game SEC regular-season sweeps for the first time since South Carolina won its two games against both Georgia and Kentucky in the 2001-02 season. The Gamecocks have already swept the 2009-10 regular-season series with Auburn.
Last Time Out…
South Carolina saw Arkansas mount a 20-2 rally late in the second half to steal a 72-68 win on Sunday at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks’ 18-point lead turned into a two-point deficit in the final eight minutes of the game as the Razorbacks ramped up the defensive pressure late and shot 57.6 percent in the second half.
The Kentucky Series
The Wildcats lead the series 26-17 after South Carolina scored a 79-71 victory over them earlier this season. Kentucky swept the two-game series last season but is 4-3 in the last seven outings against the Gamecocks. Kentucky holds a 15-5 edge in games played in Lexington. South Carolina’s last win on the Wildcats’ home court was a 65-57 decision on March 2, 2008, which is the last time the Wildcats hosted the Gamecocks on Senior Day.
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 12th-toughest in the nation (as of Feb. 19). Only Oklahoma, Connecticut, Rutgers, Stanford, Texas A&M, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Southern Cal, Louisville and Kansas have faced a more strident challenge than South Carolina this season.
Figuring Out February
South Carolina is 170-125 (.576) all-time in the month of February, thanks in large part to a 98-36 (.731) record in Columbia. The Gamecocks are 55-77 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 2-2 so far this month.
Living in the League
Including a 6-7 mark this season, South Carolina is 73-176 in SEC games since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. The Gamecocks are 46-76 in regular-season SEC games played in Columbia. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley boasts a 107-44 record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple team to a 99-25 Atlantic 10 record. She is 8-19 in her second season in the SEC.
Two-Game Time Trial
After winning back-to-back road games (at Auburn and Georgia) in the SEC for the first time since the 2005-06 season, South Carolina suffered the opposite fate in dropping its last two home games. Three of those four games were decided in the final four minutes – Georgia being the exception as the Gamecocks led by 10 at the five-minute mark. In that decisive span during the Gamecocks’ two victories, the Tigers and Lady Bulldogs combined to shoot just 33.3 percent from the field. In the two losses, South Carolina allowed Mississippi State and Arkansas to hit 63.6 percent from the field. The two teams also beat the Gamecocks on the boards when it mattered most, 11-7. By contrast, in the first 35 minutes of the two losses, South Carolina shot 42.6 percent and allowed its opponents to hit 44.3 percent from the field while out-rebounding them 75-50.
Thrice as Nice
The Gamecocks are shooting 37.8 percent from 3-point range in SEC play to rank third in 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 36.3 percent of its 3-point attempts (116-320) to rank third in the league and 32nd 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 2.9 3-pointers per game. She is ninth in the league and 79th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, hitting long-range shots at a 36.9 percent clip.
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 (9.6) and ranking ninth in scoring (14.2), the highest-ranking first-year player in both categories. Bone’s rebounding average ranks 39th in the country and fourth nationally among freshmen. She has eight double-doubles this season and has snagged double-digit rebounds 12 times. Bone has scored in double figures 18 times, including five 20-point affairs and her career-high 32 at Clemson in the second game of the season.
Sophomore La’Keisha Sutton found her stride among the new-look Gamecock offense since SEC play began. While her scoring has remained constant – 10.8 ppg in non-conference games and 10.8 in SEC games – she has found her own offense easier to come by as she ramped up her assists numbers. Sutton is handing out a team-high 3.0 assists per SEC game to rank 14th in the league, compared to her 1.5 average in non-conference play. She tied her career high with seven assists against Arkansas. As a result, Sutton’s shooting percentage both overall and from 3-point range has improved from non-conference to league action. Additionally, she has handled the ball better, averaging just 2.5 turnovers per SEC game compared to a 3.4 average in non-conference games. As a result, she is among the league’s top 10 with a 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio in SEC contests.
Our Pal Val
South Carolina guard Valerie Nainima has been the Gamecocks’ leading scorer 13 times this season, during which the team has a 7-6 record. She has scored in double figures in all but one game this season, including eight games with 20 or more points. Nainima is fifth in the SEC with 17.5 points per game and ranks 15th in the nation in 3-point field goals per game at 2.9.
In the 13 games played since turning the calendar to 2010, sophomore Charenee Stephens has been in double figures in either points or rebounds eight times, including a double-double against Mississippi State. That production has put her among the SEC’s best as she ranks 11th in rebounding at 7.0 boards per game and leads the league in field goal percentage (.607). The Gamecocks are most successful when Stephens is at her best on the offensive end as she scores 4.1 more points per game in South Carolina wins than losses. The Gamecocks are 6-2 when Stephens scores in double figures.