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Feb. 12, 2011

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Game Information

Date: Sunday, February 13, 2011
Time: 2 p.m. (ET)
Location: Starkville, Miss.
Arena: Humphrey Coliseum (10,500)
Mississippi State Series: MS leads 16-9; In Starkville: MS leads 9-2; In Columbia: SC leads 7-5; At Neutral Site: MS leads 2-0
TV: SEC Network (Cara Capuano and Robin Muller) Click here for where to watch the game in your area
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton);
Live Stats:

South Carolina Notables

  • This is the Gamecocks’ 37th season as a varsity sport.
  • Nine of the 12 players on South Carolina’s roster have scored 10 or more points at least onced this season. Four of those players have done it eight or more times.
  • SEC opponents are averaging 9.1 fewer points per game over the last five outings against South Carolina compared to the first six league games (63.7-54.6).
  • South Carolina’s 6-5 SEC record matches last season’s 11-game league mark as the program’s best since the 2002-03 team first turned in the same record at this point in the season. That group was ranked among the nation’s top 25 for most of the season and finished with a 9-5 league record and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
  • In SEC play, junior guard La’Keisha Sutton’s scoring and assists have generated 33.8 percent of the team’s points – 10.7 ppg by her and 8.8 ppg by teammates from her assists.
  • In SEC games, sophomore guard Ieasia Walker is ranked among the league’s top 10 in three categories – points per game (8th, 14.1), steals per game (2nd, 2.8), 3-point field goals made per game (9th, 1.6).


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be its 15th of the season, the most of the Dawn Staley era.
  • Be its seventh SEC win of the season, making it the earliest the Gamecocks have reached that number since the 2002-03 team was 7-5 through 12 games as well.
  • Be its third-straight SEC victory, tying last season’s league-win streak as the longest since the 2005-06 squad put together four straight conference wins late in the season.
  • Be head coach Dawn Staley’s first over Mississippi State.

By the Numbers
0 Gamecocks taller than 6-foot-1, making South Carolina the most undersized team in the SEC – yet, the Gamecocks rank fifth in the SEC in rebounding margin (+0.8) in league games
1 Gamecock who has started every game this season – Jewel May
4 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), Tennessee 71 (Jan. 20) and Kentucky 61 (Feb. 10)
9.2 Points per game by junior guard Markeshia Grant over the last five games, nearly double her 4.7 average over the first six SEC games
15 Games in which South Carolina has led at the half, during which it has a 13-2 record
17 Games in which sophomore guard Ieasia Walker has scored 10 or more points (during which the Gamecocks are 11-6), including 10 of 11 SEC games
22 Games in which the Gamecocks have held their opponent below its scoring average, during which South Carolina has a 14-8 record
19.2 Points per game generated by junior guard La’Keisha Sutton – 10.2 ppg scored plus 9.0 ppg scored off her assists
.744 South Carolina’s free throw percentage in the last two minutes of games this season, compared to its .608 percentage prior to that

The Mississippi State Series
The Lady Bulldogs lead the series 16-9 and have won the last four matchups. The Gamecocks’ last victory in the series was a 72-66 overtime decision in Columbia on Feb. 25, 2007. Mississippi State holds a commanding 9-2 edge in Starkville, where South Carolina has not won since Feb. 5, 2006, in a 51-46 contest.

Take What They’re Giving
South Carolina’s win over No. 15/18 Kentucky was something of an anomaly when it comes to two of the Gamecocks’ key stats this season – 3-pointers and assists. South Carolina failed to hit a 3-pointer and handed out just two assists in the game, but the season-low numbers in those categories were simply a result of the Gamecocks taking what the defense was giving – guard penetration. South Carolina out-scored Kentucky in the paint 40-36, although Gamecock post players accounted for just 10 of those 40 points. Meanwhile, guards Markeshia Grant, La’Keisha Sutton and Ieasia Walker made routine trips into the area, scoring 30 of their combined 46 points there.

They’re Free, But They Sure Do Count
South Carolina may rank 11th in the SEC in free throw percentage, but the Gamecocks have proven they can step up and deliver when it counts the most. Hitting 63.4 percent from the charity stripe overall, South Carolina has shot 68.8 percent from the line in the final five minutes of the game. That number goes up further to 74.4 percent in the final two minutes of games. To get more specific, South Carolina has been involved in 10 games this season, including each of the last five, 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, at Arkansas and against Kentucky. In those 10 games, during which they are 7-3, the Gamecocks have shot 76.6 percent (49-64) from the free throw line.

Three, It’s a Magic Number
As Schoolhouse Rock professed many years ago, three appears to be a magical number for the Gamecocks, who are 9-2 this season when three players score double figures. That record includes a 4-1 mark in SEC action and improves to 11-2 when expanded to include games with more than three players in double figures. On the other side, South Carolina is just 3-8 when fewer than three players reach the 10-point plateau. Regular members of the triumverate are the Gamecocks’ leading scorers – Ieasia Walker and La’Keisha Sutton – account for one of the double-figure scorers in each of the 13 games with three or more 10-point contributors. In fact, both names appear on the list in seven of the 13 games. An impressive part of the stat is that five different players have completed the group for those seven outings – Marah Strickland (4), Ashley Bruner (2), Markeshia Grant (2), Charenee Stephens (1) and Valerie Nainima (1).

Heavenly at 70, Successful at 60
The Gamecocks are 11-2 this season when scoring at least 60 points, including a perfect 3-0 mark when reaching the 70-point plateau. South Carolina is 3-8 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 10-29 when falling short of the 60-point mark and is 14-11 when scoring between 60 and 69 points.

Walking on Sunshine
Sophomore Ieasia Walker ranks among the SEC’s top-10 scorers in league play, netting 14.1 points per game. The hot-shooting guard has three 20-point games among her 11 league outings and has missed the 10-point plateau just once during the stretch. The added beauty of Walker’s game is that it has not been one-dimensional. Her 4.7 rebounds per SEC game are third-highest on the team, and she has pulled down a team-best 6.6 caroms per game over the last seven 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 second in the SEC with 2.8steals 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. She bounced back to tie for team-high honors with 17 points against No. 15/18 Kentucky, and her four steals helped the Gamecocks post a +4.0 turnover margin against the Wildcats, who entered the game with the nation’s fifth-highest turnover margin (+8.2).

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 10.2 points in league play, Sutton has made just as much impact with her passing. She is fourth in the league in assists per conference contest (3.7) and is 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1). Through 11 SEC games, Sutton accounts for 19.5 points per game via her own scoring (10.7 ppg) and her assists (8.8 ppg). That’s 33.7 percent of the team’s total scoring (57.9 ppg). Overall this season, Sutton is second on the team and 27th in the SEC in scoring at 10.2 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 12 times this season, including seven SEC contests, and has handed out four or more assists 13 times, including five league outings. Sutton’s .416 field goal percentage this season is the highest among the team’s guards.

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 seven games with Newton in the starting rotation have yielded a 4-2 record and significant strides on the defensive end. The Gamecocks’ last seven opponents have scored 58.8 points per game, compared to a 59.7 scoring average over the first 17 contests. In the last seven games, South Carolina’s foes have hit 38.7 percent from the field, compared to 44.0 percent over the first 17 outings. And, on the glass, South Carolina is out-rebounding its opponents by 2.6 per game over the last seven, compared to just 1.4 over the first 17 games.

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 6.8 rebounds over the last eight contests, May has book-ended the effort with a combined 17 rebounds in two games against Kentucky (Jan. 13 and Feb. 10). She reeled in six against Tennessee’s taller front line(Feb. 20) and snagged a season-best 11 against Alabama (Feb. 23) as part of her first double-double (11 points) of the season. She has led the team in rebounding four times during the stretch, giving her team-high honors nine times on the season.

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.