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Jan. 7, 2015


Coach Staley
Alaina Coates & A’ja Wilson

Game Information

Opponent: Alabama (11-6, 2-0 SEC)
Date: Thursday, January 8, 2015 | 6 p.m. (CT)
Site: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Arena: Foster Auditorium (3,800)
Tickets: $5 General Admission (all ages)
Broadcast: SEC Network+ (Chris Stewart, pxp; Rick Moody, analyst)
Radio: 1320 AM/107.5 FM (in progress) – Brad Muller;
Live Stats:
Series History: SC leads 19-15

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

South Carolina Notables

  • The Gamecocks’ 14-0 start is the best in program history and broke the school record for longest win streak. The previous record was held by the 1985-86 team, which put together 13 wins from Jan. 25 through March 3.
  • South Carolina has held opponents to 50 points or fewer nine times in 14 games this season, helping the Gamecocks rank second in the nation in scoring defense (48.6 ppg allowed). Only one opponent has shot over 40.0 percent from the field.
  • Led by super-subs Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson, the Gamecock bench has accounted for 47.5 percent of the team’s scoring this season. In fact, the bench has tied or out-scored the starters six times this season – San Diego State, vs. Wisconsin, Charlotte, Savannah State, at Hampton and Auburn.
  • Senior Aleighsa Welch moved into the Gamecocks’ top 10 in career rebounds with her five-board effort at LSU (Jan. 4). Her 788 total rebounds are the most of any current player in the SEC by nearly 100. Offensively, she has been especially efficient in league play, hitting 9-of-10 from the field so far, including 6-of-6 in the SEC opener against Auburn (Jan. 2).
  • Sophomore Alaina Coates has posted four double-doubles in the last six games and has an SEC-best seven on the season. She is 19th in the SEC in scoring (11.1 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (8.8 rpg).
  • Freshman A’ja Wilson was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for third time this season following her pair of double-doubles to open league play last week averaging 16.5 points and 11.5 rebounds over the two games. She has been the Gamecocks’ top scorer a team-high eight times in 4 games this season and leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game.
  • Four Gamecocks were named to the Naismith Trophy Top 50 Watch List with Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson joining junior Tiffany Mitchell and Aleighsa Welch, who are also on the Wooden Award and Wade Trophy Watch Lists.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Extend the school record for longest win streak to 15.
  • Make the Gamecocks 3-0 in SEC play for just the third time in school history (2012, 2002) – the 2002 team holds the program’s best opening SEC record at 4-0.
  • Be the Gamecocks’ 10th straight over Alabama.

By the Numbers
Block needed by senior Elem Ibiam to tie Michelle Murray (1990-93) for second on the program’s career list
1 Game this season in which the Gamecocks have allowed a team to shoot at least 40.0 percent – Charlotte (Dec. 4), 45.3 percent
4 Remaining unbeaten teams in the nation (through games of Jan. 5) – South Carolina, Mississippi State, Princeton and Texas
4 Home games in which South Carolinas has played in front of over 10,000 fans
5 Gamecocks who have led the team in assists this season – Tina Roy (5), Khadijah Sessions (4), Asia Dozier (4), Tiffany Mitchell (3) and Bianca Ceuvas (2)
6 Stats in which senior Aleighsa Welch ranks among the Gamecocks’ career top 10 – free throws made, free throw attempts, rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds and blocked shots
7 Games in which South Carolina’s bench has tied or out-scored its starters
7 Games this season in which junior Tiffany Mitchell’s 3-point field goal percentage was higher than that of her two-point attempts
7 Double-doubles by Alaina Coates this season, tied for the SEC lead, including four in the last six games
8 Gamecocks who are at least 6′ tall, including four who are 6’4″ or taller
13 Games in which freshman A’ja Wilson has scored in double figures – a team high
48.5 Percent of this season’s scoring that has come from the bench
21.9 Points per game by which the Gamecocks are outscoring opponents in the paint (42.3-20.4)
67.9 Percent of the Gamecocks’ field goals that have been assisted this season (275 of 418)
788 Career rebounds by senior Aleighsa Welch, more than any other current SEC player

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Alabama Series History
South Carolina leads the series 19-15 and have not lost to Alabama since the arrival of head coach Dawn Staley, a nine-game win streak. The Gamecocks won the most recent meeting, a 77-51 decision on Jan. 19, 2014, at Colonial Life Arena. Aleighsa Welch’s double-double (12 pts/10 rebs) led the way, while Alaina Coates came up one rebound short of the feat. Elem Ibiam’s 18 points paced the offense and came in just 21 minutes on the court. After a 17-point lead at the half, the Gamecock defense further locked in, forcing the Crimson Tide into 27.3 percent shooting in the second half. The last meeting at Foster Auditorium was on Feb. 7, 2013, and ended in a 65-53 Gamecock victory. Welch also posted a double-double in that game with 16 points and 10 rebounds as South Carolina scored 42 of its 65 points in the paint. and controlled the glass 53-24.

Poll Presence
This week’s rankings extended South Carolina’s string of Associated Press top-10 appearances to 20, the longest in program history, and is the Gamecocks’ seventh in the No. 1 spot. The only teams to hold the position more often in the last five seasons are Baylor (39 weeks) and UConn (33). The AP’s No. 1 ranking on Nov. 24 was the program’s first, besting the No. 2 spot the Gamecocks held for five times in their history – Nov. 17, 2014; Preseason 2014-15; Jan. 2, 1982; Dec. 27, 1981; and Dec. 20, 1981. The Gamecocks opened this season with their highest preseason ranking from the organization, coming in at No. 2 to best the previous high of No. 4 heading into the 1981-82 season.

Road Warriors
The Gamecocks are playing just their fourth true road game of the season tonight as the 2014-15 schedule has featured as many neutral-site games as away contests so far. Overall, South Carolina is 206-240 (.462) in road games, including a 37-31 (.544) record during the Dawn Staley era. After a difficult start as the Gamecocks’ mentor, Staley has guided her team to two of the program’s top five road records in program history, including last season’s school-record winning percentage of .833 (10-2). Her 2012-13 team posted a 7-3 (.700) record on the road for the fourth-best in program history.

SEC Stories
Head coach Dawn Staley has steadily lifted the Gamecocks’ national profile by building the Gamecocks into a consistent SEC contender, shirking decades of difficulty in the nation’s best women’s basketball conference. In her seventh season at the helm, Staley boasts a 54-42 (.563) SEC regular-season record and has finished outside the league’s top five just twice – an unprecedented achievement for a program that had finished INSIDE the top five just twice in the previous 17 seasons. Staley’s 54 wins include three seasons of double-digit league victories – 10-6 in 2012, 11-5 in 2013 and an SEC-best 14-2 in 2014. Staley’s SEC regular-season record includes a 29-18 (.617) mark at home and a 24-24 (.500) slate on the road.

Diversified Assets
South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation in field goal shooting with an SEC-best .491 percentage, yet just one Gamecock ranks among the SEC’s best individually in the category. That anomaly comes from the league and the NCAA required minimum of five made field goals per game to qualify. Only freshman A’ja Wilson reaches that mark with 5.4, and her .531 field goal percentage is third-best in the league and 42nd in the nation. In all, each of the Gamecocks’ top five scorers shoot over 50.0 percent from the field with only Wilson attempting more than 10 shots per game:

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 who first took a chance on head coach Dawn Staley’s vision has 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. Welch’s consistent effort has her ranked among the program’s career top 10 in seven different categories while also among the top-20 scorers. Her current career .588 field goal percentage (469-of-797) is second in school history behind only Jocelyn Penn’s school-record .593 (757-of-1277). The expansion of the Gamecocks’ frontline have brought her rebounding numbers down slightly (5.2 rpg this season vs. 7.2 average previous three seasons), Welch continues to provide consistency on the offensive end, shooting 61.4 percent from the field and handing out 1.9 assists per game.

Double Trouble
One of sophomore Alaina Coates’ goals this season focuses around posting double-doubles, taking to heart her head coach’s quip that the 6-foot-4 center is a “walking double-double.” Ranking 18th in the nation with an SEC-best seven 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 17 career double-doubles through 48 games, Coates is just three shy of making the Gamecocks’ career top 10 in the category.

Bang off the Bench
Just as Alaina Coates earned the unprecedented double of SEC Freshman and Co-6th Player of the Year honors last season, freshman A’ja Wilson is putting in an early bid to repeat the feat. The 6-foot-5 Heathwood Hall product started the season opener, but has thrived off the bench ever since, averaging 15.3 points and 7.4 rebounds during the stretch. Overall on the season, Wilson leads the team in scoring, ranking eighth in the SEC in at 14.5 ppg, and has been the Gamecocks’ top scorer a team-high eight times. She is the only freshman to rank among the SEC’s top 20 scorers and rebounders – standing in the top 10 in both categories – this season, adding a top-three appearance in the league’s field goal percentage standings, in which she is also 42nd in the nation hitting 53.1 percent – a number that is fourth among the country’s freshmen. Wilson has earned SEC Freshman of the Week three times and was the USBWA’s first ever Freshman of the Week (games Dec. 1-7).