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Dec. 17, 2013

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game Information

Opponent: No. 14/13 North Carolina
Date: Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 7 p.m.
Site: Myrtle Beach Convention Ctr. • Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Tickets: $10
TV: None
Radio: WISW 1320 AM / WNKT 107.5 FM joining in progress (Brad Muller);
Live Video:
Live Stats: None Series History: NC leads 9-7

South Carolina Notables

  • The Gamecocks’ staff will wear orange ribbons in tonight’s game in support of North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell’s battle with leukemia.
  • Tonight’s game is just the third between the two teams in which both teams are nationally ranked. It is the first of the group in which the Gamecocks are ranked ahead of the Tar Heels.
  • Ranked in the top 10 in both national polls, South Carolina is enjoying its highest rankings since February 2012.
  • South Carolina leads the SEC in field goal percentage (.503), blocks per game (6.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5). The Gamecocks are among the top 10 in the nation in each category as well.
  • South Carolina has scored 40.7 points per game in the paint – more than half of its 79.7 scoring average.
  • Two of the top three individual field goal percentages in the SEC belong to Gamecocks – Aleighsa Welch (1st, .723), and Tiffany Mitchell (3rd, .566). Welch’s accuracy leads the nation, while Mitchell ranks among the nation’s top 40.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be the Gamecocks’ 10th straight to open the season, matching last season’s start, which is the best of the Dawn Staley era.
  • Bring Staley to 102 in her Gamecock career, giving her sole possession of third all-time in Gamecock women’s basketball history.
  • Be the Gamecocks’ second straight over North Carolina to level Staley’s career record against the Tar Heels to 2-2.

By the Numbers
1 Gamecock who has scored in double figures in each game this season – Tiffany Mitchell
2 Rank for Khadijah Sessions in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5), which places her among the nation’s top 25
3 Games this season in which five Gamecocks have scored in double figures, which had happened just five previous times in the Dawn Staley era
5 Different Gamecocks who have been the team’s high scorer in a game this season – Alaina Coates (Charleston Southern, at San Diego State), Aleighsa Welch (LA Tech, at Clemson), Asia Dozier (CofC), Elem Ibiam (Seton Hall, Charlotte) and Tiffany Mitchell (at USC, NC Central)
7 Opponents who have been held to 55 or fewer points by the Gamecocks this season, helping the Gamecocks rank second in the nation in scoring defense (45.8 ppg)
8 Games in the Dawn Staley era in which the Gamecocks have scored 80 or more points, including four this season
32.2 Points per game by which South Carolina has won its nine games this season to lead the SEC and rank fifth in the nation
33 Weeks in which the Gamecocks have ranked 10th or higher in the Associated Press poll, including the last two weeks. South Carolina’s best ever ranking was No. 2, which it held for three weeks in December 1981.
63.2 Percent of field goals made this season that have been assisted

North Carolina Series Notes
The Tar Heels lead the series 9-7, but the Gamecocks won the most recent meeting – a 79-48 decision on Dec. 18, 2011, in Myrtle Beach. South Carolina was unranked entering that contest, while the Tar Heels held the No. 18 spot in the AP poll. Three current Gamecocks played in that last meeting – Elem Ibiam, Tina Roy and Aleighsa Welch, who led the trio with 10 points and six rebounds. South Carolina sprinted out to an 11-point lead less than three minutes into the game and never looked back, holding a 50-27 edge at halftime and leading by as many as 34 late in the second half. These two teams have met eight previous times in Myrtle Beach with the Tar Heels holding a 5-3 lead in the neutral-site game.

Five-Second Count
For the first time in her tenure at South Carolina, head coach Dawn’s Staley’s Gamecocks look different – on the court and in the box score. After seasons of building around defense, Staley finally as a group that is designed for offensive efficiency. The Gamecocks are scoring more (79.7 ppg – 4th in SEC, 33rd in nation) and more efficiently (.503 FG %age – 2nd in SEC, fourth in country) than at any time in the Staley era. And, after seasons of talented guards generating their own offense, Staley’s 2013-14 success is predicated on getting the ball inside – three primary post players combine to score 46.3 percent of the team’s points – and on ball movement creating the best shots – 63.2 percent of made field goals have been assisted, ranking the Gamecocks fifth in the SEC and 27th in the nation with 17.8 assists per game. Defense is still a staple of the program with the Gamecocks ranking second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 47.4 points per game. Only two opponents this season have scored 55 or more points against South Carolina.

Make It, Take It
South Carolina is exhibiting its most efficient offense of the Dawn Staley era so far this season, leading the SEC and ranking fourth in the nation with 50.3 percent accuracy from the field. The Gamecocks have shot 50.0 percent or higher five times already this season – the most in a season under Staley. In fact, in the previous five seasons, South Carolina hit at least 50.0 percent of its field goal attempts just 12 times. This year’s top effort was 60.9 percent against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8) – program best under Staley – followed by a 58.5 percent showing against NC Central (Dec. 2). The Gamecocks made at least 65.0 percent of their attempts in a half five times this season, including a remarkable 73.9 percent (17-of-23) in the second half against Seton Hall (Nov. 17).

Post Presence
South Carolina’s trio of primary post players – Alaina Coates, Elem Ibiam and Aleighsa Welch – has been the key to the Gamecocks’ offensive production so far this season. The trio has accounted for 332 of the team’s 717 points this season – 46.3 percent – and is shooting a combined 64.7 percent from the field (123-of-190). Welch is second in the nation in field goal percentage at .723 for 14.0 points per game (14th in SEC). Coates is close behind with 12.0 ppg (25th in SEC) on 61.5 percent shooting. Elem contributes 10.9 points per game on 60.0 percent shooting. In all, the Gamecocks have scored 366 points in the paint this season – 51.0 percent of their total scoring.

The Gift of Glass
The Gamecocks have been a solid rebounding team throughout head coach Dawn Staley’s tenure, but it was a team effort by an undersized roster in the past. This season, South Carolina is out-rebounding its opponents by 12.7 boards per game to rank second in the SEC and among the nation’s top 15, behind the strength of the trio of Alaina Coates, Elem Ibiam and Aleighsa Welch. Coates and Welch are tied for seventh in the SEC with 8.1 rebounds per game, while Ibiam pulls down 6.1 per contest. As a team, South Carolina has turned its 128 offensive rebounds into 144 second-chance points. Welch and paces the group on the offensive glass with 3.0 per game to rank among the league’s top 10 in the category.