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Feb. 5, 2014

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game Information

Opponent: Mississippi State (16-7, 3-6 SEC)
Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014, 8 p.m. (ET)
Site: Starkville, Miss.
Arena:Humphrey Coliseum (10,500)
TV: None
Radio: WNKT 107.5 FM/WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller);
Live Video: (Fee Required)
Live Stats:
Series History: MSU leads 16-13

South Carolina Notables

  • South Carolina is 8-1 in SEC play for the second time in school history, matching the program’s best ever nine-game start in conference play as the 1987-88 team went 8-1 to open Metro Conference action.
  • Eschewing the idea of a sophomore slump, South Carolina leading scorer Tiffany Mitchell has established herself as one of the most versatile players in the SEC this season. In conference games, she is the only player in the league to rank among the conference’s top 20 in points (7th, 16.1) and rebounds (16th, 6.3) AND the top 15 in assists (11th, 3.6) and steals (3rd, 2.6). She was named to the Dawn Staley Award Watch List last week.
  • Center Alaina Coates earned her fourth SEC Freshman of the Week honor on Monday. LSU’s Danielle Ballard and Georgia’s Jasmine James hold the league record with five selections in 2013 and 2010, respectively.
  • Junior center Elem Ibiam’s eight blocks over two games last week moved her into third place on the program’s single-season blocked shots list, just four off the school record of 60 held by Lakesha Tolliver (2006-07). Her 103 career blocks are tied for seventh in school history (Schonna Banner, 1986-90).


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be the Gamecocks’ 21st this season, giving this team the program record for quickest to 21 wins.
  • Make the Gamecocks 9-1 in conference play for the first time in school history, surpassing previous 10-game record of 8-2 of the 1987-88 team (Metro Conference).

By the Numbers
Team with two players listed among both the SEC’s overall top 30 in scoring and top 20 rebounding – Aleighsa Welch (16th/10th) and Alaina Coates (21st/7th)
2 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)
3.8 Assists per SEC game by sophomore Asia Dozier to lead the team and rank 10th in the SEC
4 Blocks needed by junior center Elem Ibiam to tie the single-season record of 60 currently held by Lakesha Tolliver (2006-07)
4 SEC Freshman of the Week selections for center Alaina Coates, the most ever by a Gamecock
10 Individual 20-point games this season by the Gamecocks – five by Alaina Coates, three by Tiffany Mitchell two by and Aleighsa Welch
12 Games this season in which South Carolina has scored at least 50.0 percent of its points in the paint, including four of at least 60.0 percent of scoring coming from the paint (Chas. Sthrn., 70.7%; at USC, 60.0%; UK, 61.8%; at Vandy, 75.4%)
38 Weeks in which the Gamecocks have ranked 10th or higher in the Associated Press poll all-time, including seven this season. South Carolina’s best ever ranking was No. 2, which it held for three weeks in Dec. 1981.
46 Blocked shots by center Alaina Coates this season, setting a new Gamecock freshman record and ranking 10th in school history
99 Points scored by the Gamecocks against Ole Miss (Jan. 30), a school record in an SEC game and the most by any SEC school in a league game this season

Mississippi State Series Notes
The Bulldogs lead the series 16-13, but the Gamecocks have won the last four meetings, including the last two at Humphrey Coliseum. South Carolina swept the 2012-13 series with a 60-46 win in Starkville, Miss., on Jan. 6 followed by a 58-43 home win on Feb. 24. Mississippi State’s last win in the series was a 55-53 decision on Feb. 11, 2010, in Columbia, S.C.

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 has a group that is designed for offensive efficiency. The Gamecocks are scoring more (75.2 ppg, 49th in nation) and more efficiently (.491 FG %age – 1st in SEC, 5th 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 47.6 percent of the team’s points – and on ball movement creating the best shots as 60.6 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 53.5 points per game. Only nine of 22 opponents this season have scored 55 or more points against South Carolina.

Talking Top 10
South Carolina is ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press poll this week, the program’s highest ranking since coming in at No. 4 the week of Jan. 10, 1982. The Gamecocks’ seventh appearance in the top 10 this season surpasses the 2001-02 team’s six entries among the nation’s 10 best teams and is two weeks shy of matching the 1981-82 Gamecocks who were in it a school-record nine weeks at the start of their season.

Reading the RPI
With a 20-2 record, including a 7-1 mark on the road, the Gamecocks are eighth in the NCAA RPI released on Feb. 3. South Carolina is one of six SEC schools rated in the top 20 – LSU (5), Tennessee (7), Vanderbilt (14), Texas A&M (16), Kentucky (18). The Gamecocks have three of those teams ahead on the schedule – at LSU (Feb. 16), at Kentucky (Feb. 20) and at Tennessee (Mar. 2).

Road Warriors
With comprehensive records beginning in the 1976-77 season (the third for women’s basketball at South Carolina), the Gamecocks are 202-235 (.462) all-time in games played on the road, including a 33-30 mark (.524) in the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks had winning road records in each of the last two seasons, combining for a 16-8 record (.667) in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

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 fifth in the nation with 49.1 percent accuracy from the field. The Gamecocks have shot 50.0 percent or higher 12 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 a league-best 48.9 percent in SEC action. This year’s top effort was 60.9 percent against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8) – a program best under Staley – followed by a 60.8 percent showing against Ole Miss (Jan. 30). 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 788 of the team’s 1,655 points this season – 47.6 percent – and is shooting a combined 60.4 percent from the field. Welch leads the way with 13.4 points per game (16th in SEC) on an SEC-best 61.1 percent shooting. Coates shoots a team-best 64.1 percent from the field (12 FGM shy of qualifying for SEC ranking) for 12.3 points per game (21st in SEC). Ibiam adds 10.1 points per game on 55.8 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 6.9 per game. South Carolina swatted away a school-record 14 shots against No. 9/10 Kentucky (Jan. 9) – the most by an SEC team in league play this season – with five different Gamecocks getting into the action. Junior Elem Ibiam’s 2.5 blocks per game lead the league and are 25th in the nation. Her total of 56 this season is already third in school history with an eye on the school record of 60 set by Lakesha 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 11 times this season. Freshman Alaina Coates is third in the SEC and 44th in the country with 2.1 per game with nine games of three or more, including five SEC games. With a total of 46 this season, she is the new Gamecock freshman record holder and is currently 10th in program single-season history, regardless of class. Her five at Arkansas (Jan. 2) tied the program’s freshman record, which Ibiam also owns part of.

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 9.9 boards per game to rank second in the SEC and 11th in the nation, behind the strength of the trio of Alaina Coates, Elem Ibiam and Aleighsa Welch. With seven double-digit rebound games this season, Coates leads the way and ranks seventh in the SEC with 8.0 boards per outing – a number that rises to 9.0 per conference game to rank second in the league. Welch comes in 10th in the league with 7.5 per game, while Ibiam rounds out the trio of season leaders at 6.7 per contest to rank 16th. As a team, South Carolina has turned its 285 offensive rebounds into 309 second-chance points. Welch paces the group on the offensive glass with 3.3 per game to rank third in the league in the category. Coates’ 2.6 per game on the offensive end are 15th in the conference.

A Little Help from My Friends
Under the tutelage of one of the premier point guards in U.S. women’s basketball history in Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are thriving in the assist category this season unlike any other, handing out 16.0 per game to rank 46th in the nation. By comparison, in Staley’s first five seasons, the team never averaged more than 11.2 per game. This season’s five games of 20 or more assists by the team surpasses the total of the previous five seasons, which was three. The increase is not simply a product of more made field goals, either. This season, South Carolina has assisted on 60.6 percent of its made field goals, compared to the previous five seasons under Staley, which saw a high of 48.5 percent in 2011-12. South Carolina has twice posted a Staley-era high of 25 assists this season, including Jan. 19 against Alabama on 30 made field goals – 83.3 percent. The Gamecocks also handed out 25 assists against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8)on 39 FGM. The percentage of assisted field goals has been over 60.0 percent in 12 games this season. Four Gamecocks average at least 2.0 assists per game with sophomore Tiffany Mitchell leading the way with 3.6 to rank 12th in the SEC. Sophomore Khadijah Sessions is also over the 3.0 threshold with 3.3 assists per game on the season. In league play, sophomore Asia Dozier has been the primary passer, handing out 3.8 assists per SEC game to rank 10th. Mitchell is close behind in 11th with 3.6 per league game.