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Nov. 1, 2014

Coach Staley
Aleighsa Welch and Jatarie White

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game Information

Date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 | 3 p.m.
Site: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Tickets: Free Admission
Broadcast: SEC Network+ (Brad Muller, play-by-play; Robin , analyst)Radio: NoneLive Stats:

South Carolina Notes

Preseason Poll Pop
South Carolina is ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25, matching the program’s all-time highest ranking and marking the best preseason rank in school history. The 1981-82 team earned the previous best marks with a preseason rank of No. 4 and spending three weeks at No. 2.

Back in (Garnet and) Black
A huge reason the this season’s lofty expectations is the return of all five starters among the 10 returning letterwinners. The Gamecocks return 97.6 percent of their scoring, 96.0 percent of their rebounding, 98.4 percent of their assists and 97.1 percent of their school-record shot blocking from last season’s top-10 squad. Nine of the 10 returners played in at least 29 of the team’s 34 games last season and contributed at least 2.0 points per game.

Elite Additions
On top of returning 10 of the 12 letterwinners from last season’s SEC championship team, the Gamecocks added the nation’s No. 2 signing class. Four of the five signees will take the court for the Gamecocks this season, led by No. 1 A’ja Wilson and No. 7 Jatarie White. Two other top-35 signees (Bianca Cuevas, Kaydra Duckett) round out the group that will contribute this season.

Ticket Boom
After updating the Colonial Life Arena attendance top-10 list five times last season, South Carolina ranked 10th in the nation in average attendance (6,371) last season. The athletics department responded to the demand by expanding the number of reserved-seat sections available to fans. The response was so overwhelming that the sections expanded again in late October. In all, the Gamecocks have sold over 6,600 season tickets, a significant increase from last season’s 4,213.

SEC Title Talk
In 2013-14, South Carolina became the seventh program to win the SEC regular-season title. The SEC and national media predicted that the Gamecocks would repeat the feat this season. If Staley’s group brings that forecast to fruition, it would be just the fourth team to repeat as the regular-season champion, joining Tennessee (multiple times), Georgia (1996, 1997) and LSU (2005, 2006).

Rare Company
As just the second sophomore ever to earn SEC Player of the Year honors from the league’s coaches last season, junior Tiffany Mitchell was tabbed by the SEC and national media to claim the award again this season. If that prediction comes true, Mitchell would become just the seventh player to pick up the award twice in her career, joining South Carolina assistant coach Nikki McCray (1994, 1995) among others. If South Carolina’s other player of the year candidate last season, Aleighsa Welch, can dethrone her teammate this season, it would be the first time in league history that the same school had different student-athletes win the award in consecutive seasons. Welch joined Mitchell on the Preseason All-SEC First Team as voted on by the SEC and national media in October.

Staley’s Success
This is head coach Dawn Staley’s seventh season with the Gamecocks, making her the third-longest tenured coach in the program’s 40-year history. Her 121 wins are third most in school history, and her .630 (121-71) winning percentage is second behind Pam Parsons’ .701 (101-43). South Carolina’s total and SEC wins have increased each season of Staley’s tenure with 79 of her 121 wins coming in the last three seasons, marking the second most successful three-season span in program history (81 wins 1977-78 through 1979-80) and the first three-season stretch of 25+ wins each.