Jan. 1, 2015
South Carolina Game Notes | Auburn Game Notes | Buy Tickets | 2014-15 Season Promotions
|SOUTH CAROLINA BASKETBALL|
Opponent: Auburn (9-4, 0-0 SEC)
Date: Friday, January 2, 2015 | 7 p.m. (Doors Open 5:30 p.m.)
Site: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 and under)
Broadcast: SEC Network (Cara Capuano pxp, Gail Goestenkors, analyst); via WatchESPN
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com
Series History: AUB leads 21-17
South Carolina Notables
- Head coach Dawn Staley will recognize junior guard Tiffany Mitchell for scoring her 1,000th career point prior to today’s starting lineups.
- South Carolina welcomes participants in its Active Gamecocks program to tonight’s game. The program promotes physical activity in children in kindergarten through sixth grade in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina.
- The Gamecock defense has allowed just one team to reach 50 points (then-No. 9 Duke) in the last five games.
- South Carolina has made five or more 3s seven times this season, but the outside shot is still just the setup for the Gamecocks’ inside game as points in the paint accounts for 52.6 percent of the team’s total offense.
- Junior guard Tiffany Mitchell shot 64.5 percent from the field over the last three games, all on the road, including 64.7 percent accuracy from 3-point range.
- Senior Elem Ibiam has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games, including both games of the Subway Classic at University of Minnesota.
- Sophomore Alaina Coates has posted four double-doubles in the last six games while averaging just 21.3 minutes during that stretch.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Be the second-straight in an SEC opener and just the third SEC-opening win of the Staley era.
- Be the Gamecocks’ 25th straight at home.
- Be the Gamecocks’ third straight over Auburn, which would be their longest streak of the series.
By the Numbers
1 Team this season that has held top spot in both major polls (AP and USA Today Coaches) for multiple weeks with the Gamecocks owning the honor for the fourth-straight week
2 Games in which junior Tina Roy has committed multiple turnovers this season, helping her rank ninth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio
3 Blocks needed by senior Elem Ibiam to tie Michelle Murray (1900-93) for second on the program’s career list
5.3 Made 3-pointers per game by the Gamecocks this season, including two games of 9 3s – Syracuse (Nov. 28) and San Diego State (Nov. 23) – which ties the Staley-era record achieved seven times in her previous six seasons
6 Double-doubles by Alaina Coates this season, tied for the SEC lead, including four in the last six games
7 Statistical categories in which South Carolina leads the SEC
8 Games in which South Carolina has handed out at least 20 assists, including Staley-era record of 26 against NC Central (Dec. 1), to help team to fifth in the nation in assists per game (20.0)
30 Career 1,000-point scorers in program history after junior Tiffany Mitchell joined the group against Liberty (Dec. 21)
47.2 Percent of this season’s scoring that has come from the bench (453 of 959)
67.9 Percent of the Gamecocks’ field goals that have been assisted this season (240 of 361)
Auburn Series History
The Tigers hold a 21-17 lead in the all-time series, but the Gamecocks won the last two meetings and are 5-3 against Auburn in the Dawn Staley era. Auburn’s last win in the series was a 53-49 decision in Auburn on Jan. 19, 2012. Last season’s 72-66 win at Auburn came on Jan. 12 and courtesy of 18 points from Tiffany Mitchell. Alaina Coates’ 14 first-half points helped the Gamecocks rally to tie the game at the break, and six straight points from Mitchell after the game’s last media timeout stretched the Gamecocks’ lead from five to 11 with 2:17 to go. The Tigers made another surge, but Khadijah Sessions hit a pair of free throws with 21 seconds to play to hold them off.
South Carolina welcomes the participants in the most recent segment of the Active Gamecocks program to tonight’s game. Active Gamecocks promotes physical activity in children in kindergarten through sixth grade in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. The students are encouraged to participate in any form of physical activity for 30 minutes per day for a two-week period. At the end of the two weeks, students and schools that participated receive tickets to predetermined Gamecock Athletics events. Tonight’s celebration recognizes the 5,900 participants from 82 schools across the region.
Home Sweet Home
The Gamecocks are in the midst of unprecedented success at Colonial Life Arena, having won their last 24 games on their home court, including the facility’s first perfect season in 2013-14. That 16-0 mark alone matched the previous record for win streak at the Arena, originally set Jan. 20, 2002-Jan. 9, 2003. South Carolina’s last loss at Colonial Life Arena was a 50-48 decision to then-No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 10, 2013. The longest home win streak in school history is 32 games, which spanned three seasons. That streak began with a win over Clemson on Dec. 10, 1977, and ended with a win over Tennessee Tech on March 4, 1980. The stretch included a perfect 11-0 record in 1978-79 at Carolina Coliseum (9-0) and the Sol Blatt P.E. Center (2-0). Overall, South Carolina is 139-58 (.706) at Colonial Life Arena, including a 73-25 (.745) mark under head coach Dawn Staley. In the now 41-year history of the program, the Gamecocks are 384-155 (.712) in home games.
With over 8,000 season tickets issued, the Gamecocks have enjoyed unprecedented support at Colonial Life Arena this season. South Carolina is currently third in the nation in average attendance (9,904). In fact, with just 11 games played in front of at least 10,000 fans nationally this season, the Gamecocks have three entries – more than any other team. The Gamecocks drew 10,057 fans to their season opener against Southern Cal, the largest crowd for a home opener since the opening game at Colonial Life Arena drew 17,712. South Carolina women’s basketball has logged seven crowds of over 10,000 fans in Colonial Life Arena history, six of which have come in the last three seasons, including the first three home games this season.
This week’s rankings extended South Carolina’s string of Associated Press top-10 appearances to 19, the longest in program history, and is the Gamecocks’ sixth in the No. 1 spot. The previous high top-10 streak was 13 weeks from Jan. 22, 1980 through Dec. 16, 1980.
SEC Title Talk
In 2013-14, South Carolina became the seventh program to win the SEC regular-season title and were predicted by the league’s coaches and media to the 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).
Junior guard Tiffany Mitchell joined senior Aleighsa Welch in the 1,000-point club against Liberty (Dec. 21), making it the first time a Gamecock team has had multiple 1,000-point scorers wince 2001-02 when Shaunzinski Gortman and Jocelyn Penn both reached that plateau. In program history, there have been nine seasons that featured multiple 1,000-point scorers, including three seasons that saw three Gamecocks who surpassed the benchmark.
More on Muffin
Senior forward Aleighsa Welch – nicknamed Muffin by her mother at birth – continues to be at the foundation of the Gamecocks’ success. The South Carolina high school standout that first took a chance on head coach Dawn Staley’s vision, the undersized post player had done everything asked to power the Gamecocks to the lofty heights achieved during her career. Always willing to do the “dirty” work that doesn’t show up in the box score, Welch’s energy is what drives the Gamecocks and what has prompted her teammates to vote her a team captain each of the last three seasons. This season Welch’s role has evolved from her first two seasons spent leading an undersized front line as a dynamic rebounder – she is just outside program’s all-time top 10 – to this season playing often as a mid-range shooting swing player whose height can give opposing shooters fits. While the change in position and expansion of the Gamecocks’ frontline have brought her rebounding numbers down slightly (5.2 rpg this season vs. 7.2 career average), Welch continues to provide consistency on the offensive end, shooting 58.2 percent from the field and handing out a career-best 2.2 assists per game.
One of sophomore Alaina Coates’ goals this season centers around posting double-doubles, taking to heart her head coach’s quip that the 6-foot-4 center is a “walking double-double.” With an SEC-best six this season, the Irmo, S.C., native has already passed the halfway mark of her freshman year, during which she posted 10 double-doubles, but just three in non-conference action. With 16 career double-doubles through just 46 games, Coates is just four shy of making the Gamecocks’ career top 10 in the category.