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Feb. 9, 2011

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Coach Staley Media Availability

Game Information

Date: Thursday, February 10, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena
Kentucky Series: UK leads 28-17; In Columbia: SC leads 12-8; In Lexington: UK leads 17-5; At Neutral Site: UK leads 3-0
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Live Stats:
Tickets: $7 General Admission

South Carolina Notables

  • This is the Gamecocks’ 37th season as a varsity sport.
  • The Gamecocks are 11-4 when their bench outscores the opponent’s bench.
  • The 3-point shot has become a significant weapon for the Gamecocks in league play. South Carolina is 4-1 in SEC games in which it has netted five or more 3-pointers. The Gamecocks are 8-3 overall when netting five or more 3s. South Carolina has made 57 3-pointers in 10 league games, compared to 61 in its 13 non-conference outings.
  • In SEC play, junior guard La’Keisha Sutton’s scoring and assists have generated 33.9 percent of the team’s points – 10.1 ppg by her and 9.3 ppg by teammates from her assists.
  • In SEC games, sophomore guard Ieasia Walker is ranked among the league’s top 10 in three categories, including points per game (10th, 13.8), steals per game (2nd, 2.7) and 3-point field goals made per game (8th, 1.8).
  • Through games of Feb. 8, South Carolina’s strength of schedule is ranked 19th in the nation. In the SEC, only Tennessee (3) is rated higher. The Gamecocks have an RPI of 54, which is sixth-highest in the league, trailing Tennessee (4), Kentucky (15), Georgia (28), Vanderbilt 932), Arkansas (43) and LSU (49).


A South Carolina Win Would…<>

  • Be its 12th home victory this season, the most since the 2007-08 team also collected 12 wins at Colonial Life Arena.
  • Be its second-straight home win over a nationally ranked team.
  • Be its second over kentucky in the last three meetings, and its second-straight over the Wildcats in Columbia.
  • Be its sixth SEC win in 11 games, matching last season’s start to league play.

By the Numbers
0 Gamecocks taller than 6-foot-1, making South Carolina the most undersized team in the SEC – yet, the Gamecocks rank sixth in the SEC in rebounding margin (+0.4) in league games
1 Gamecock who has started every game this season – Jewel May
3 SEC games in which South Carolina’s defense has yielded more than 60 points in regulation time – Georgia 61 (Jan. 2), LSU 61 (Jan. 6) and Tennessee 71 (Jan. 20)
6.5 Assists per game more that the Gamecocks hand out in games they have won (12.2) than games they have lost (7.3) – South Carolina has handed out 10 or more assists 14 times this season, during which it is 11-3.
7.0 Rebounds per game by sophomore guard Ieasia Walker over the last six games, during which she is averging 14.8 points and 3.2 steals, to lead the team in all three categories
14 Games in which South Carolina has led at the half, during which it has a 12-2 record
21 Games in which the Gamecocks have held their opponent below its scoring average, during which South Carolina has a 13-8 record
19.1 Points per game generated by junior guard La’Keisha Sutton – 9.9 ppg scored plus 9.2 ppg scored off her assists
.730 South Carolina’s free throw percentage in the last two minutes of games this season, compared to its .605 percentage prior to that

The Kentucky Series
The Wildcats lead the series 28-17 after winning the matchup in Lexington earlier this season, 66-48. South Carolina led that game 33-30 at halftime, but second-half turnovers led to an offensive slow down. Jewel May’s nine rebounds were a game high, while Valerie Nainima and Ieasia Walker led the offense with 13 and 10 points, respectively. South Carolina won the last meeting in Columbia, however, claiming a 79-71 victory on Jan. 14, 2010, as the teams split the season series. Five Gamecocks reached double-figure points in that game, including Walker, Nainima, Samone Kennedy and Charenee Stephens, who also pulled down eight rebounds. The Gamecocks are 12-8 against the Wildcats in Columbia, including an even 4-4 mark in Colonial Life Arena. Kentucky’s last win in Columbia was a 70-53 outcome on March 1, 2009.

Reading the Rankings
South Carolina is 1-5 this season against nationally ranked opponents after topping then-No. 20/24 Georgia on Jan. 27. Overall, the Gamecocks hold a 49-187 record against ranked teams, including a 27-70 mark in home games (1-2 this season). South Carolina is 15-88 on the road (0-2 this season) and 7-29 (0-1 this season) at neutral sites against the nation’s elite. Under head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 4-21 against ranked opponents. She is 8-38 against top-25 teams in her career. Facing teams ranked among the nation’s top 15, South Carolina is 27-133 with a 16-52 record in home games against those foes. The Gamecocks’ last win over at top-15 team was a 52-42 decision at then-No. 14 Georgia on Feb. 7, 2010.

Living in the League
Including a 5-5 mark this season, South Carolina is 78-183 in SEC games since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. The Gamecocks are 51-80 in regular-season SEC games played in Columbia and 27-103 in SEC games on the road. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley boasts a 113-51 career record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple team to a 99-25 Atlantic 10 record. She is 14-26 in her third season in the SEC.

Home Sweet Home
South Carolina has won 69.4 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 334-147 mark includes a 90-50 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 11-3 at home this season.

Figuring Out February
The Gamecocks are 173-133 (.565) all-time in the month of February, including a 98-37 (.726) record at home. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 5-10 in the second month of the year. The Gamecocks went 1-5 in Staley’s first year at the helm (2008-09), were 3-5 last season and are 1-0 so far this February.

They’re Free, But They Sure Do Count
South Carolina may rank 12th in the SEC in free throw percentage, but the Gamecocks have proven they can step up and deliver when it counts the most. Hitting 62.7 percent from the charity stripe overall, South Carolina has shot 66.4 percent from the line in the final five minutes of the game. That number goes up further to 73.0 percent in the final two minutes of games. To get more specific, South Carolina has been involved in nine games this season where the teams were within 10 points of each other in the final five minutes – at UC Davis, NC State, LSU, Florida, at Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and at Arkansas. In those nine games, during which they are 6-3, the Gamecocks have shot 73.1 percent from the free throw line. The stat saw both its high and low in one week. South Carolina was a perfect 8-of-8 from the stripe as it nursed a four-point lead at the five-minute mark to a nine-point victory over No. 20/24 Georgia on Jan. 27. Junior guard La’Keisha Sutton accounted for half of those free throws. Three days later, with the game tied with five minutes to play, the Gamecocks misfired on all four of their free throw attempts, including two that were the front ends of 1-and-1 opportunities. On Feb. 6 at Arkansas, the Gamecocks struggled from the free throw line all night, hitting just 5-of-12 through 35 minutes of play, but it was 6-of-8 shooting from the line in the final 10 minutes of the overtime game that delivered the win as Ieasia Walker hit a pair with 14 seconds left to send the game to overtime, and La’Keisha Sutton drained two with five seconds left to break the game’s ninth and final tie and give the Gamecocks the win.

Boost from the Bench
The South Carolina bench has outscored that of its opponent 15 times in 22 games this season, and the Gamecocks are 11-4 in those outings. South Carolina is 2-6 in games in which the opponent’s bench scores the same or more points. On the season, the South Carolina bench is outscoring its counterparts by 5.3 points per game. The Gamecock reserves have outscored their peers by 20 or more points four times (Savannah State, NC State, South Carolina State, #20/24 Georgia) with the season’s largest differential of 34 points coming against South Carolina State (Dec. 30).

Newton’s Law
Redshirt junior Courtney Newton worked her way into the starting lineup at Ole Miss with smart, gritty play. The change in vantage point paid immediate dividends (Newton hit her first 3-pointers of the season against the Rebels), and the Flowery Branch, Ga., native’s confidence has been building ever since. For the team, the last six games with Newton in the starting rotation have yielded a 4-2 record and significant strides on the defensive end. The Gamecocks’ last six opponents have scored 56.8 points per game, compared to a 59.7 scoring average over the first 17 contests. In the last six games, South Carolina’s foes have hit 38.3 percent from the field, compared to 44.0 percent over the first 17 outings.

She’s a Jewel
Senior forward Jewel May has spent a career doing the “little things” that coaches love but that don’t necessarily show up in box scores. While still filling that bill, May has pounded her name into the box score the last month, including games against some lofty-reputationed frontcourts. Averaging a team-high 6.6 rebounds over the last six contests, May kicked off the set with a game-high nine boards while battling Victoria Dunlap at Kentucky. Back at home, she fought off Tennessee’s taller front line for six boards, and then snagged a season-best 11 rebounds against Alabama as part of her first double-double (11 points) of the season. Three of her five boards against #20/24 Georgia came on the offensive end, and she reeled in four rebounds at Auburn in 17 minutes of play. With seven rebounds, including four offensive, at Arkansas, she led the team on the boards for the eighth time this season and the third time in the seven-game stretch.

Walking on Sunshine
Sophomore Ieasia Walker ranks among the SEC’s top-10 scorers in league play, netting 13.8 points per game. The hot-shooting guard has three 20-point games among her 10 league outings and has missed the 10-point plateau just once during the stretch. The beauty of Walker’s game is that it has not been one-dimensional. Her 4.8 rebounds per SEC game are third-highest on the team, and she has pulled down a team-best 7.0 caroms per game over the last six contests. She recorded her first career double-double at Ole Miss (Jan. 16), the first of the points-rebounds variety by a South Carolina guard since Kellindra Zachery psted 28 points and 11 boards agaisnt North Carolina A&T on Nov. 17, 2006. Defensively, Walker is third in the SEC with 2.7 steals per conference game and has swiped a career-high five steals twice this season, including against Alabama (Jan. 23). With her shot not falling consistently at Arkansas (Feb. 6), Walker handed out a career-high six assists, including one that threaded the needle to Ashley Bruner for a layup with just 18 seconds left in overtime to help deliver the victory. Walker also netted the two free throws with 14 seconds left that sent that game to overtime.

Just Jersey
Junior guard La’Keisha Sutton has been among the most consistent Gamecocks in the lineup this season, especially since the start of SEC action. Averaging in 10.1 points in league play, Sutton has made just as much impact with her passing. She is fifth in the league in assists per conference contest (3.9) and is ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1). Through 10 SEC games, Sutton accounts for 19.4 points per game via her own scoring (10.1 ppg) and her assists (9.3 ppg). That’s 33.9 percent of the team’s total scoring (57.1 ppg). Overall this season, Sutton is second on the team and 29th in the SEC in scoring at 9.9 points per game. Her 3.8 assists per game are good for seventh in the league, and she has a 1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio to rank 11th. She has scored in double figures 11 times this season, including six SEC contests, and has handed out four or more assists 13 times, including five league outings. Sutton’s .407 field goal percentage is the highest among the team’s guards.

Time and a Half
The Gamecocks have played two overtime games this season, the second-straight season the program has logged multiple OT contests. Prior to the 2009-10 season, South Carolina had not played multiple OT games in a season since the 1995-96 squad logged extra time in four contests, putting up a 1-3 record in those games. Under head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 3-1 in overtime contests, including a 2-0 mark this season.