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Jan. 25, 2014

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game Information

Opponent: #16/19 Vanderbilt (16-3, 5-1 SEC)
Date: Sunday, January 26, 2014, 2 p.m. (ET)
Site: Nashville, Tenn.
Arena: Memorial Gym. (14,326)
TV: ESPN2 (Joe Davis, play-by-play; Katie Smith, analyst)
Radio: WNKT 107.5 FM, WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller);
Live Video:
Live Stats:
Series History: Vandy leads 21-10

South Carolina Notables

  • South Carolina is 17-2 overall and 5-1 in SEC play for just the second time in school history, matching the start of the 2001-02 team for the best start.
  • The Gamecocks have built their success on a balanced effort – balance on offense and balance between offense and defense. South Carolina ranks sixth in the nation in both field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense. It is one of just three programs to rank among the top 10 in both categories.
    Aleighsa Welch (13.9 ppg, 13th) and freshman center Alaina Coates (12.1 ppg, 23rd).
  • Between her scoring and assists, sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell has had a hand in 30.9 percent of the team’s scoring this season – 15.4 ppg scoring, 7.7 ppg scored on her assists.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Give the Gamecocks a 3-1 road record in SEC play for just the second time in program history (2013, 2002).
  • Make the Gamecocks 6-1 in SEC play for the first time in school history.
  • Keep the Gamecocks undefeated against Vanderbilt in three trips to Memorial Gymnasium under head coach Dawn Staley.

By the Numbers
Team with two players listed among both the SEC’s overall top 25 in scoring and top 20 rebounding – Aleighsa Welch (15th/8th) and Alaina Coates (24th/7th)
2 Gamecocks who rank among the league’s top three in field goal percentage in SEC play – Alaina Coates (1st, .566) and Tiffany Mitchell (3rd, .516)
3 Double-doubles needed by center Alaina Coates to tie the Gamecock freshman record for double-doubles in a season (9 by Kelsey Bone in 2008-09)
4 Blocks needed by Alaina Coates to tie the school record for blocks in a season by a freshman (42 by Lakesha Tolliver in 2004-05)
5 Blocks needed by junior center Elem Ibiam to move into the program’s top 10 in career blocked shots, sharing ninth place with Melanie Johnson (2004-07) and Teresa Geter (2000-02) with 99. Ibiam is currently tied for eighth in single-season blocks at 47.
8 Games this season in which sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell has had a hand in at least one-third of the offense (points plus assists) – highlighted by helping to deliver 52.2 percent of the Gamecocks’ 69 points against Winthrop (Dec. 20) – during which the Gamecocks are 6-1
10 Games in which South Carolina has shot at least 50.0 percent from the field this season after reaching the mark just 12 times in the previous five seasons under Staley
10 Games this season in which South Carolina has scored at least 50.0 percent of its points in the paint, including three of at least 60.0 percent of scoring coming from the paint (Chas. Sthrn., 70.7%; at USC, 60.0%; UK, 61.8%)
36 Weeks in which the Gamecocks have ranked 10th or higher in the Associated Press poll all-time, including five this season. South Carolina’s best ever ranking was No. 2, which it held for three weeks in Dec. 1981.

Vanderbilt Series Notes
The Commodores lead the series 21-10, but the Gamecocks have won the last four and five of the last seven meetings since head coach Dawn Staley took the reins of the program. In fact, South Carolina is undefeated in its last two trips to Memorial Gymnasium under Staley.
The Gamecocks stretched their win streak over the Commodores to four with a 76-66 victory on Jan. 5 at Colonial Life Arena. Three Gamecocks scored in double figures as South Carolina shot 54.3 percent from the field while holding Vanderbilt to just 37.7 percent shooting and 14 points below their season scoring average at the time.
Vanderbilt’s last win in the series was a 74-60 overtime decision on Feb. 27, 2011, in Columbia. The Commodores’ last home win over the Gamecocks came in a 78-48 decision on Feb. 7, 2008.
Tonight’s game is just the third in the series in which both teams are nationally ranked. The previous two resulted in South Carolina victories as the then-No. 14 Gamecocks upset then-No. 6 Vanderbilt 71-52 in Columbia on Jan. 3, 2002, and the then-14th-ranked Gamecocks knocked off the then-17th-ranked Commodores 66-57 on Jan. 16, 2003, in Nashville.

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 (74.6 ppg) and more efficiently (.483 FG %age – 2nd in SEC, 6th in nation) 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 47.9 percent of the team’s points – and on ball movement creating the best shots as 61.0 percent of made field goals have been assisted.
Defense is still a staple of the program with the Gamecocks ranking second in the SEC and third in the nation, allowing just 52.0 points per game. Only eight of 19 opponents this season have scored 55 or more points against South Carolina.

Rating Against the Ranked
Under head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 12-36 all-time against nationally ranked opponents, including a 1-2 mark this season. Her .250 winning percentage against the nation’s elite teams is the best for a Gamecock head coach over at least three seasons since Pam Parsons went 14-18 (.438) against ranked teams during her 1978-82 tenure.

Make It, Take It
South Carolina is exhibiting its most efficient offense of the Dawn Staley era so far this season, ranking second in the SEC and sixth in the nation with 48.3 percent accuracy from the field. The Gamecocks have shot 50.0 percent or higher 10 times 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 combined. The Gamecocks are shooting 46.2 percent in SEC action.
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 a big key to the Gamecocks’ offensive production so far this season. The trio has accounted for 679 of the team’s 1,417 points this season – 47.9 percent – and is shooting a combined 59.2 percent from the field. Welch leads the way with 13.8 points per game (15th in SEC) on an SEC-best 61.1 percent shooting. Coates shoots a team-best 62.1 percent from the field for 12.0 points per game (24th in SEC). Ibiam adds 9.9 points per game on 54.1 percent shooting.

Block Party!
With a pair of 6-foot-4 centers, the Gamecocks are a constant shot-blocking threat, leading the SEC and ranking third in the nation with 6.7 per game. South Carolina swatted away a school-record 14 shots against No. 9/10 Kentucky (Jan. 9) with five different Gamecocks getting into the action.
Junior Elem Ibiam’s 2.5 blocks per game lead the league and are 26th in the nation. Her total of 47 this season already ranks eighth in school history (tied with current Lakesa Tolliver’s 2007-08 total) with an eye on the school record of 60 set by Tolliver in 2006-07. After getting the season off to a solid start with five in the opener against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8), she swatted away a career-high six against No. 9/10 Kentucky (Jan. 9) to tie for the most ever by a Gamecock in SEC play and fourth in Colonial Life Arena history. She has blocked at least three shots nine times this season.
Freshman Alaina Coates is third in the SEC and 49th in the country with 2.0 per game with seven games of three or more, including three SEC games (at Arkansas, Vandy, UK). Her five at Arkansas (Jan. 2) tied the program’s freshman record, which Ibiam also owns part of. With 38 blocks this season, she already ranks second in the Gamecock freshman record book for blocks in a season, just four shy of Tolliver’s freshman record of 42. Coates needs just five more to tie for top-10 in school history.
Welch has joined in the effort recently with nine in SEC play to move into the league’s top 15 with her 1.0 average.