Jan. 14, 2015
|A’ja Wilson & Tina Roy|
Opponent: Missouri (11-6, 1-3 SEC)
Date: Thursday, January 15, 2015 | 9 p.m. (ET)
Site: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Mizzou Arena (15,061)
Broadcast: SEC Network (Paul Sunderland, pxp; Carolyn Peck, analyst); via WatchESPN
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com
Series History: SC leads 2-1
South Carolina Notables
- South Carolina is one of two teams in the nation ranked among the top 15 in both scoring offense (12th, 80.1 ppg) and scoring defense (2nd, 49.9 ppg). The other is UConn at second in scoring offense (88.8 ppg) and seventh in defense (51.3 ppg).
- The Gamecocks’ 16-0 start is the best in program history and also is the new the school record for longest win streak. The previous win streak record was held by the 1985-86 team, which put together 13 wins from Jan. 25 through March 3.
- Ten of the 14 Gamecocks on the active roster have scored in double figures at least once this season. Freshman A’ja Wilson leads the way with 14 games with 10 or more points, while veterans Tiffany Mitchell (12), Alaina Coates (10) and Aleighsa Welch (10) follow close behind.
- South Carolina has trailed at halftime just three times this season – all three against nationally ranked opponents and all eventual Gamecock victories. Last season, South Carolina lost all five games in which it was behind at halftime.
- Freshman A’ja Wilson is making an early case for SEC Freshman of the Year, averaging nearly a double-double in league play so far – 13.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg. Overall on the season, she has scored in double figures in all but two games and has four double-doubles to her credit.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Extend the school record for longest win streak to 17.
- Make the Gamecocks 5-0 in SEC play, which would top the 2002 team’s 4-0 start as the best SEC open in program history.
- Be the Gamecocks’ first in Mizzou Arena.
By the Numbers
1 Block needed by senior Elem Ibiam to tie Michelle Murray (1990-93) for second on the program’s career list
2 Stats in which A’ja Wilson ranks among the top 10 freshmen in the nation – field goal percentage (6th, .503) and blocks (9th, 1.8)
3 Offensive rebounds by freshman Jatarie White in just five minutes against #10/11 Kentucky (Jan. 11) in her first game back following a foot injury
5 Gamecocks who have led the team in assists this season – Tina Roy (5), Khadijah Sessions (5), Asia Dozier (4), Tiffany Mitchell (4) and Bianca Ceuvas (2)
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 seven games
9 South Carolina 1,000-point scorers who have also grabbed at least 800 career rebounders, with senior Aleighsa Welch joining the group on Jan. 11 (vs. #10/11 Kentucky)
10 Games this season in which at least one Gamecock has posted a double-double
12 Free throws made by junior Tiffany Mitchell in the last five minutes of the Gamecocks’ four games decided by single digits
14 Games in which freshman A’ja Wilson has scored in double figures – a team high
22.0 Free throw attempts per game by South Carolina this season, compared to 13.4 by its opponents
64.6 Percent of the Gamecocks’ field goals that have been assisted this season, helping them rank fifth in the nation with 19.3 apg
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Missouri Series History
As one of the newest members of the SEC, Missouri has played South Carolina just three times prior to tonight. The Gamecocks won the first and most recent meetings, while the Tigers claimed the lone previous matchup at Mizzou Arena. In the most recent meeting – a 78-62 win by South Carolina on Feb. 2, 2014, at Colonial Life Arena – all five Gamecock starters scored in double figures, as did Alaina Coates off the bench. Then No. 7/8 South Carolina shot a sterling 49.0 percent and led 48-25 at the half. The Tigers shook off athe slow start to hit six 3s in the second half to out-score the Gamecocks 37-30 in the final 20 minutes as South Carolina struggled to capitalize on 27 trips to the free throw line in the period. In the last meeting at Mizzou Arena – the two teams’ first as conference rivals – the Tigers spoiled the Gamecocks’ bid for a top-four seed at the upcoming SEC Tournament with a 65-58 decision on Feb. 28, 2013, behind 26 points and 12 rebounds from Bri Kulas as the Tigers dominated then No. 14/13 South Carolina in the paint 34-14. The first meeting of the series came on Nov. 24, 2001, at the Duke Classic and ended in a 72-60 South Carolina victory.
The Gamecocks are 4-0 on the road this season, including two SEC outings in enemy territory. Overall, South Carolina is 207-240 (.463) in road games, including a 38-31 (.551) 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.
South Carolina is in its eighth week as the No. 1 team in the nation in the Associated Press Poll, the third-longest stretch by a team in the last five seasons (beginning 2010-11). Only four teams have held the top spot in the AP poll during that time – Baylor (39 weeks), Connecticut (35 weeks) and Stanford (6 weeks). In the last 10 seasons (beginning 2005-06), eight teams have occupied the AP Poll’s No. 1 position. South Carolina’s eight weeks in the spot is the sixth-most among that group, which is led by UConn’s 85 entries. Baylor is second at 39 followed by Tennessee (16), Duke (14) and Maryland (10). The AP’s No. 1 ranking on Nov. 24 was a South Carolina program 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.
More on Muffin
Senior forward Aleighsa Welch – nicknamed Muffin at birth by her mother – 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 six different categories, including three rebounding totals, while also among the top-20 scorers. Among the Gamecocks’ 30 1,000-point scorers, she is one of just nine to amass at least 800 career rebounds as well. Her current career .589 field goal percentage (478-of-812) 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 (5.4 rpg this season vs. 7.2 average previous three seasons), but Welch continues to provide consistency on the offensive end, shooting 61.2 percent from the field and handing out 1.9 assists per game.
Home Grown, Nationally Known
Since her arrival for the 2008-09 season, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has been working to protect her new home state’s best prospects while fielding a team that competes at a national level. Her efforts have paid huge dividends as eight of the 15 members of this year’s team hail from South Carolina. Beginning with Aleighsa Welch, the first South Carolina player to sign a National Letter of Intent for Staley, the Palmetto State has frequently sent its players of the year to Columbia as Welch (2011), Asia Dozier (2012), Alaina Coates (2013), A’ja Wilson (2014) and Kaydra Duckett (2014) have each earned the title during their high school careers.