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Jan. 19, 2011

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Coach Staley – Wednesday Media Availability

Game Information

Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena
Tennessee Series: UT leads 40-1; In Columbia: UT leads 17-1; In Knoxville: UT leads 19-0; At Neutral Site: UT leads 4-0
TV: SportSouth (Dave Neal and Debbie Antonelli)
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Live Stats:
Tickets: $7 General Admission
Halftime: AcroDunk

South Carolina Notables

  • This is the Gamecocks’ 36th season as a varsity sport.
  • The Gamecocks are 9-3 when their bench outscores the opponent’s bench.
  • Ieasia Walker’s 20-point, 11-rebound outing at Ole Miss was the first points-rebounds double-double by a Gamecock guard since Kellindra Zachery posted 28 points and 11 boards against NC A&T on Nov. 17, 2006.
  • South Carolina’s +14 rebounding advantage at Ole Miss (Jan. 16) was the Gamecocks’ highest in SEC play since Feb. 3, 2008, when South Carolina out-rebounded Arkansas 56-26 at Colonial Life Arena.
  • The Gamecocks’ 41.3 percent field goal shooting at Kentucky was their highest in a road game this season.
  • Tonight’s honorary captain is Helen Timmermans who led the women’s basketball program as it achieved varsity status in January 1974. With the title associate director of athletics for women then and a lifelong season-ticket holder, she has been party to all 36 seasons of varsity women’s basketball at South Carolina.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be its 10th home victory this season, the most since the 2007-08 team collected 12 wins at Colonial Life Arena.
  • Be its first over Tennessee since a 56-52 decision on Jan. 23, 1980.
  • Be its first over an AP top-5 team since a Jan. 14, 1998, win (70-66) over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt.
  • Be its first over a nationally-ranked team this season after topping ranked teams three times in 2009-10.

By the Numbers
4.6 Assists per game more that the Gamecocks hand out in games they have won (12.0) than games they have lost (7.4) – South Carolina has handed out 10 or more assists 12 times this season, during which it is 9-3.
6 Different players who have led the team in scoring this season – Ieasia Walker (7), Marah Strickland (3), La’Keisha Sutton (2), Ashley Bruner (2), Markeshia Grant (1), Charenee Stephens (1) and Valerie Nainima (2)
7 Different starting lineups head coach Dawn Staley has turned in this season, including four in the last five games
8.5 Gamecocks’ averaging rebounding advantage over two games last week as South Carolina out-rebounded Kentucky 27-24 and Ole Miss 43-29
11 Games in which South Carolina has led at the half, during which it has a 9-2 record
16 Games in which the Gamecocks have held their opponent below its scoring average, during which South Carolina has a 10-6 record

The Tennessee Series
The Lady Vols have won all but one of the 41 meetings between the two programs, although the Gamecocks put a scare into them the last time they met at Colonial Life Arena. Then-No. 5 Tennessee fell behind 13-0, did not lead until the game’s final eight minutes and needed a 8-1 run to close the game for a 60-55 victory on Jan. 31, 2010. It was the narrowest margin of victory over South Carolina since then-No. 3 UT captured a one-point win (70-69) over then-No. 18 South Carolina on Jan. 25, 1990. In last year’s meeting, then-sophomore La’Keisha Sutton led all scorers with 19 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 night from 3-point range. Valerie Nainima added 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and the Gamecocks used 12 fastbreak points to keep the Lady Vols on their heels throughout the contest.

Home Sweet Home
South Carolina has won 69.5 percent of its home games since the 1976-77 season (records did not include the site of games for the first two seasons of women’s basketball). That 332-146 mark includes an 88-49 mark in Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks turned in their most productive home season in 2001-02, winning 17 of their 18 contests in their final season playing at Carolina Coliseum. The team’s best home record at Colonial Life Arena came in 2006-07 when South Carolina went 15-5. South Carolina is currently 9-2 at home this season.

Judging January
The Gamecocks are 169-172 (.496) all-time in the month of January, including a 98-72 (.576) record at home. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 8-14 in the first month of the year. The Gamecocks went 2-6 in Staley’s first year at the helm (2008-09) and were 4-5 last season. So far this season, South Carolina is 2-3 in January.

Against Ranked Teams
South Carolina is 48-185 all-time against nationally-ranked teams, including an 0-3 mark this season. The Gamecocks are 26-69 in home games against top-25 teams, including an 0-1 record this season. South Carolina is 15-87 on the road and 7-29 at neutral sites against the nation’s elite. Under current head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 3-19 against ranked opponents. She is 7-36 against top-25 teams in her career. The Gamecocks have played 61 games against teams ranked in the AP top five at the time of the game with a 6-55 record. South Carolina’s last win over a top-5 team was a 70-66 decision over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998, in Columbia.

Help Thy Neighbor
With arguably the best point guard in international women’s basketball history at the helm, South Carolina has been at its best when its assist numbers are highest. In the Dawn Staley era (2008-09 through present), the Gamecocks are 25-13 when handing out 10 or more assists, including a 9-3 mark this season. When missing the 10-assist plateau, South Carolina is just 9-28 overall, including a 2-16 mark in SEC action. Those records include this season’s 1-5 overall slate and 0-2 ledger in league play.

Heavenly at 70, Successful at 60
The Gamecocks are 9-2 this season when scoring at least 60 points, including a perfect 3-0 mark when reaching the 70-point plateau. South Carolina is 1-6 when scoring fewer than 60. In the Dawn Staley era (2008-09 to present), the Gamecocks are 14-3 when scoring 70 or more points. The team is just 8-27 when falling short of the 60-point mark and is a 12-11 when scoring between 60 and 69 points.

Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive
Since head coach Dawn Staley took the reins prior to the 2008-09 season, the Gamecocks have been most successful when they are aggressive on the offensive end. Under Staley, South Carolina is 25-19 when it attempts more free throws than 3-poiners, including a 6-4 mark this season. In the last three seasons, the Gamecocks are 22-14 when attempting more free throws than their opponent, including an 8-4 mark this season.

She’s Baaaack…
While she has been active for the Gamecocks’ last 10 games, Kentucky and Ole Miss got a glimpse of the “old” Valerie Nainima this week as the junior guard made her first two starts of the season and delivered a series of clutch buckets. Nainima made her 2010-11 debut on Dec. 12 against NC State, just 18 weeks after surgery to repair a torn ACL in her right knee. With just four days of practice under her belt, she buried the first shot she took – a 3-pointer from the top of the arc 21 seconds after checking into the game – and went on to net eight points and hand out three assists in just 12 minutes of action. The 2010 second-team All-SEC selection’s production has fluctuated as she acclimates to being back on the court, but she appeared to return to form in the last two outings, averaging 12.0 points on 45.0 percent field goal shooting over the stretch. Her 13 points at Kentucky led the Gamecocks and included several shot-clock beating jumpers. At Ole Miss, she put the team on her back in overtime, scoring seven of the team’s 11 points in the extra five minutes, including the go-ahead 3-pointer and the game-sealing free throw both in the final 50 seconds.

Ga-Ga for Guard Play
One look at the Gamecock roster entering the season, and it was no secret that guard play would the key to the team’s success. Rising to the head of that class are junior La’Keisha Sutton and sophomore Ieasia Walker. Roommates and good friends off the court, the two have meshed their games together seamlessly, especially in SEC action. In the tandem, Sutton dominates the roles of driving and dishing. She is seventh in the SEC in assists per game (3.9) on the season, a number that rises to 4.4 per game in league play, which is fourth-best in the conference. Assuming just two points for the Gamecocks for every assist she hands out and including her personal 9.8 points per game, Sutton’s play accounts for at least 17.7 points per game – 29.7 percent of the team’s season average. She has scored in double figures eight times this season, including three of five SEC contests, and has handed out four or more assists 11 times, including three of five league outings. Sutton’s 41.8 field goal percentage is the highest among the team’s guards. Walker has been the team’s leading scorer since a 30-point outing against Clemson just three games into the schedule. She has scored in double figures a team-high 12 times in 18 games, including four of five SEC contests. The team’s top scorer seven times this season, she has netted 20 or more points three times, including two of the last three games. A triple threat to pass, drive or spot up for a jumper, Walker has her outside game dialed in since SEC play tipped off five games ago. Shooting 40.0 percent from 3-point range against league opponents, she ranks third in the SEC, and her 2.0 3-pointers made per game are seventh-best in conference play.

Fast Starter
Sophomore forward Ashley Bruner started SEC play the same way she attacked the start of the season – with a double-double. She led all scorers and rebounders at Georgia with 16 points and 11 boards to post her third double-double of the season. Five of her 11 rebounds came on the offensive end as she shot 6-of-7 from the field at Stegeman Coliseum. She followed that effort with an 11-point, six-rebound outing against LSU and closed a two-game home stand with a perfect shooting night (8-of-8) – the best in Colonial Life Arena history – for 16 points and six rebounds against LSU. Bruner’s performances have waned very little in the subsequent three SEC contests. In league play, she ranks among the conference’s top 10 in rebounding (7.0) and leads the league in field goal percentage shooting 63.4 percent against SEC foes. Her 11.4 points per conference game have her ranked 21st in that category.