Jan. 28, 2015
Opponent: Alabama (12-10, 1-6 SEC)
Date: Thursday, January 29, 2015 | 7 p.m.
Site: Columbia, S.C. | Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 and under)
Broadcast: SEC Network+ (Brad Muller, pxp; Debbie Antonelli, analyst)
Radio: 1320 The Fan / 107.5 The Game in progress (Derek Scott); Sirius 92/XM 190; GamecocksOnline.com
Series History: SC leads 20-15
South Carolina Notables
- Prior to tonight’s national anthem and starting lineups, South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner will present, on behalf of USA Basketball, plaques recognizing the contributions of head coach Dawn Staley, junior Tiffany Mitchell and freshman A’ja Wilson to the organization this summer.
- Junior Tiffany Mitchell leads the SEC with 16.0 points per league game this season, shooting a league-best 48.8 percent in conference action. The reigning SEC Player of the Year has asserted herself more in the offense in conference play, leading the team with 80 field goal attempts and 2.6 assists per game. Overall, she is the only player in the nation to rank among NCAA Division I’s top 50 in all three shooting percentages.
- Sophomore Alaina Coates became the fastest Gamecock to reach 100 career blocks by swatting two at Florida (Jan. 19), and the 6-foot-4 center celebrated by posting her eighth double-double of the season in her 53rd career game (vs. Texas A&M, Jan. 26). It was her most dominant performance against a nationally ranked team this season.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Be the Gamecocks’ 28th straight at home, which would tie UConn for longest active home win streak in the nation.
- Extend the school-record win streak to 20.
- Make the Gamecocks 8-0 in league play. extending the program record for best SEC start.
- Be the Gamecocks’ 21st straight over Alabama.
By the Numbers
2 Gamecocks named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 – Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson
6.7 Rebounds per SEC game by senior Aleighsa Welch, up from her 5.2 in non-conference action
10 Games in which South Carolina’s bench has tied or out-scored its starters
52 Games it took sophomore Alaina Coates to reach the program’s top 10 in career blocked shots, making her the fastest to 100 in Gamecock history
To Watch SEC Network +
To watch SEC Network +, you must be a customer of one of the following: AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DISH, Google Fiber, Suddenlink, and members of the NCTC, NRTC and NTTC. You can contact your cable/satellite provider and get a username and password which will allow you to access the content on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices like Xbox.
Alabama Series History
South Carolina leads the series 20-15 and have not lost to Alabama since the arrival of head coach Dawn Staley, a nine-game win streak. The Gamecocks scored 100 points for the first time in an SEC regular-season game with a 102-59 victory earlier this season in Tuscaloosa. Six Gamecocks reached double figures and all but two of the 14 scored at least two points as South Carolina shot 60.0 percent or better in each half while holding the Crimson Tide to just 28.0 percent in the second half. The last time these two teams met at Colonia Life Arena, the Gamecocks posted a 77-51 victory on Jan. 19, 2014. 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.
While the offense has fluctuated in source and volume, the one standard for the Gamecocks – both this season and throughout head coach Dawn Staley’s career – has been their defense. South Carolina is second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 50.1 points per game with no opponent scoring more than 63 points. In fact, South Carolina has held an opponent under 50 points 10 times in 19 games this season.
The Gamecocks have also built their success on the glass – an area, like defense, that head coach Dawn Staley preaches as a measure of effort as much as talent. South Carolina ranks eighth in the nation in rebounding margin, out-boarding its opponents by 11.7 per game. The Gamecocks have out-paced their opponent by double-digit rebounds 10 times this season, including three SEC outings. The rebounding margin has been at least 20 three times – Clemson (+22), Savannah State (+35) and at Hampton (+27).
After elevating herself to the national conversation last season, junior guard Tiffany Mitchell continues to insert herself in national player of the year conversations, but the only thing constant about her game is its versatility. Last season, Mitchell was the only player to appear in the rankings for scoring, rebounding, assists and steals in SEC action. The one weapon she frequently kept in check was her 3-point shooting. This season, the junior has established herself as one of the most accurate 3-point shooters in the country – sixth at 46.9 percent. Her heightened accuracy was on full display against San Diego State (Nov. 23) when her 6-of-6 effort from 3 was the best perfect game in program history. She went on to match her career high with six 3s at Hampton as well, those coming on eight attempts. While Mitchell is third in the SEC with 2.0 made 3s per game, her emergence in that role has not thwarted development in the rest of her game. In fact, she is the only player in the nation to rank among the top 50 in NCAA Division I in all three shooting percentages – 6th in 3-pointers (.469), 35th in total field goals (.532) and 41st in free throws (.852).
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 34th in the nation and tied for the SEC lead with eight this season, the Irmo, S.C., native has 18 career double-doubles through 53 games, leaving her just two shy of making the Gamecocks’ career top 10 in the category.