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Feb. 16, 2011

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Coach Staley – Wednesday Media Availability

Game Information

Date: Thursday, February 17, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
Arena: Thompson-Boling Arena
Tennessee Series: UT leads 41-1; In Knoxville: UT leads 19-0; In Columbia: UT leads 18-1; At Neutral Site: UT leads 4-0
TV: CSS (Matt Stewart and Joe Ciampi) – Time Warner Cable in South Carolina will air on digital cable channel 506
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton); Live Stats:

South Carolina Notables

  • Nine of the 12 players on South Carolina’s roster have scored 10 or more points at least once this season. Four of those players have done it eight or more times.
  • South Carolina’s 7-5 SEC record is the program’s best 12-game mark since the 2002-03 team turned in the same record at this point in the season. That squad 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 33.1 percent of the team’s points – 10.2 ppg by her and 9.1 ppg by teammates from her assists.
  • In SEC games, sophomore guard Ieasia Walker is ranked among the league’s top five in points per game (5th, 14.3) and steals per game (3rd, 2.8).
  • Through games of Feb. 15, South Carolina’s strength of schedule is ranked 25th in the nation. In the SEC, only Tennessee (4) and Florida (20) are rated higher. The Gamecocks have an RPI of 48, which is sixth-highest in the league, trailing Tennessee (3), Kentucky (18), Vanderbilt (24), Georgia (34) and LSU (45).


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be its eighth SEC win of the season, the program’s most since the 2002-03 squad finished 9-5 in league play.
  • Be its fourth-straight SEC victory, the longest since the 2005-06 squad put together four straight conference wins late in the season.
  • Be its third over a nationally-ranked team this season, matching last season’s effort.
  • Be its first over a top-five team since a 70-66 decision over then-#5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998, in Columbia.

By the Numbers
0 Gamecocks taller than 6-foot-1, making South Carolina the most undersized team in the SEC – yet, the Gamecocks rank fourth in the SEC in rebounding margin (+1.2) in league games
3 Free throws made by junior forward Charenee Stephens in four attempts in the final 46 seconds to help seal the comeback win at Mississippi State, exceeding her 58.3 percent accuracy over the course of this season
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 six games, nearly double her 4.7 average over the first six SEC games
9.4 Points fewer SEC opponents are scoring over the last six games compared to the first six SEC games (63.7-54.3)
18 Games in which sophomore guard Ieasia Walker has scored 10 or more points (during which the Gamecocks are 12-6), including 11 of 12 SEC games
23 Games in which the Gamecocks have held their opponent below its scoring average, during which South Carolina has a 15-8 record
19.3 Points per SEC game generated by junior guard La’Keisha Sutton – 10.2 ppg scored plus 9.1 ppg scored off her assists
.736 South Carolina’s free throw percentage in the last two minutes of games this season, compared to its .605percentage prior to that

The Tennessee Series
The Lady Vols have won all but one of the 42 meetings between the two programs, although the Gamecocks have been narrowing the gap. This season’s first meeting at Colonial Life Arena was a five-point game inside of five minutes left, and last season’s contest in Columbia was just a five-point victory for the Lady Vols – their closest game against South Carolina since a 70-69 win on Jan. 25, 1990. Since head coach Dawn Staley took the reins of the Gamecock program, South Carolina’s average margin of defeat has been 12.3 points, compared to the 19.0 point average deficit for the five games prior to her arrival.

Reading the Rankings
South Carolina is 2-5 this season against nationally ranked opponents after topping then-#20/24 Georgia on Jan. 27 and then-#15/18 Kentucky on Feb. 10. Overall, the Gamecocks hold a 50-187 record against ranked teams, including a 28-70 mark in home games (2-2 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 5-21 against ranked opponents. She is 9-38 against top-25 teams in her career. The Gamecocks have played 62 games against teams ranked in the AP top five at the time of the game with a 6-56 record. South Carolina’s last win over a top-five team was a 70-66 decision over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998, in Columbia.

Five for Fighting
After a non-conference season that saw just one game decided by 10 or fewer points, South Carolina has experienced much tighter games in SEC play. In fact, the closer the better for the Gamecocks who are 4-1 in SEC games decided by five or fewer points, compared to just 3-4 in league games settled by six or more points. In the Dawn Staley era (2008-09 to present), the Gamecocks are 12-11 in five-point or closer games (4-1 this season), 9-10 when the scoring margin is between six and 10 points (2-3 this season), 14-15 in games decided by 11 to 20 points (7-3 this season), and 4-7 in games settled by more than 20 points (2-3 this season).

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 deliver when it counts the most. Hitting 63.0 percent from the charity stripe overall, South Carolina has shot 67.6 percent from the line in the final five minutes of the game. That number goes up further to 73.6 percent in the final two minutes. To get more specific, South Carolina has been involved in 11 games this season, including each of the last six, 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, against Kentucky and at Mississippi State. In those 11 games, during which they are 8-3, the Gamecocks have shot 74.6 percent (53-71) from the free throw line.