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Feb. 8, 2015


Coach Staley
Aleighsa Welch and Bianca Cuevas

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game Information

Opponent: No. 2/2 Connecticut (22-1, 12-0 AAC)
Date: Monday, February 9, 2015 | 8 p.m.
Site: Storrs, Conn.
Arena: Gampel Pavilion (10,167)
Broadcast: ESPN2 (Dave O’Brien, pxp; Doris Burke, analyst; Holly Rowe, sideline); via WatchESPN
Radio: 107.5 The Game / Sirius 92 / XM 190 (Brad Muller);
Live Stats:
Series History: UConn leads 2-0

South Carolina Notables

  • South Carolina is 5-0 against ranked opponents this season, including a pair of teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game – at Duke (Dec. 7) and vs. Kentucky (Jan. 11).
  • South Carolina has shown its versatility throughout games this season with six different Gamecocks leading the offense in at least one game – three guards (Tiffany Mitchell, Bianca Cuevas, Asia Dozier) and three post players (A’ja Wilson, Alaina Coates, Aleighsa Welch).
  • The Gamecock bench is among the most envied in the nation, averaging 38.4 points per game on the season. The group has tied or out-scored its starting teammates 13 times in 22 games, including eight of 10 SEC contests. Headlined by super-subs Alaina Coates (11.2 ppg/8.7 rpg) and A’ja Wilson (13.2 ppg/7.0 rpg), the group is actually multi-dimensional, especially in SEC action, during which freshman Bianca Cuevas is averaging 9.0 points and 1.9 assists and junior Tina Roy is shooting 40.7 percent from 3-point range.
  • South Carolina is known for the height and volume of its post players, but it also uses its speed as a weapon as well. The Gamecocks average 12.3 fast break points, compared to just 4.0 by its opponents.
  • Junior Tiffany Mitchell was named to the Capital One Academic All-District 4 team this week. An entry on all three national player of the year watch lists, she is fourth in the SEC with 14.8 points per game this season, while ranking second in the league shooting 51.6 percent. The reigning SEC Player of the Year is shooting 47.2 percent from 3-point range.
  • Sophomore Alaina Coates is among the SEC’s top 10 in double-doubles (1st, 10), rebounding (4th, 8.7), blocked shots (3rd, 1.7), offensive rebounds (9th, 3.0) and free throw percentage (9th, .705). She has already matched her freshman season total for double-doubles, putting her into the Gamecocks’ career top 10 with 20. Nine of that career total have come in SEC play.
  • South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson is the only freshman named to either the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 or the Naismith Top 50 Watch List. She one of two SEC freshmen ranked in the league’s top 20 in scoring (11th, 13.2 ppg) and is the only one to also hold a top-20 spot in rebounding (9th, 7.0 rpg). Her 1.6 blocked shots per game come in fifth.
  • Senior Aleighsa Welch has provided reliable production and leadership throughout her career. With more weapons around her, the forward has proven she can still be a force when the chips are down, averaging a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game against ranked opponents. Welch has pulled down 6.7 rebounds per SEC game, compared to 5.2 in non-conference contests.
  • Freshman point guard Bianca Cuevas has been impressive in SEC play, especially in powerful performances in the last five games. During the stretch, the high-octane Bronx, N.Y., native averages 11.6 points on 51.2 percent shooting and 2.4 assists.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Extend the program-record win streak to 23, which would set the record for best start to a season by any Gamecock sport (Baseball in 2000; Women’s Tennis in 1979-80).
  • Be the highest-ranked win in program history, topping the three wins over No. 3 ranked teams.
  • Be the program’s second road win over a top-10 team this season and the highest-ranked road win since a 64-60 decision over then-No. 8 Tennessee on Feb. 2, 2012.

By the Numbers
Game this season in which the Gamecocks have had to overcome a double-digit deficit (12 vs Syracuse, Nov. 28)
2 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have allowed a team to shoot over 40.0 percent – Charlotte (Dec. 4), 45.3 percent and at Ole Miss (Feb. 1), 40.4 percent
3 Gamecocks ranked among the SEC’s top four shot blockers in league play – Alaina Coates (2nd, 2.0), A’ja Wilson (3rd, 1.8) and Aleighsa Welch (4th, 1.5)
6 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have held a team to under 30.0 percent shooting
9.0 Points per SEC game by Bianca Cuevas, who averaged 4.7 in non-conference average
9.0 Rebounds per game against ranked opponents by Aleighsa Welch this season, compared to her 4.9 average in other games
10 Double-doubles by Alaina Coates this season, most in the SEC, including four in league play
11 Games this season in which South Carolina has held its opponent under 50 points
13 Games in which South Carolina’s bench has tied or out-scored its starters
18 Games in which freshman A’ja Wilson has scored in double figures – a team high
22 Rank in career points in program history for junior Tiffany Mitchell (1,157), trailing a spot in the top 20 by 42 points
32 More made free throws by South Carolina than its opponents have attempted (332-300)
39.8 Points per game scored by the Gamecocks in the paint this season, compared to just 21.0 by their opponents.
51.6 Percent of the Gamecocks’ points in SEC games scored by the bench
60.6 Percent of the Gamecocks’ field goals that have been assisted this season, helping them rank 14th in the nation with 17.5 apg
77.1 Percent free throw shooting by the Gamecocks in the last five minutes of games with a margin of 10 or fewer points

UConn Series History
The Gamecocks and Huskies have met twice before tonight, once on each team’s home court, with the last meeting coming Staley’s inaugural season in Columbia (2008-09). Under then-head coach Susan Walvius, the Gamecocks suffered a 97-39 loss to Connecticut on Dec. 17, 2007, in Storrs. On the Huskies’ return trip to Columbia the following season, Staley’s team cut the margin exactly in half, falling 77-48 on Dec. 28, 2008.

Ranked Readings
South Carolina is facing its sixth ranked opponent of the season tonight with a 5-0 record against such foes. The Gamecocks are 70-216 all-time against ranked teams with a 20-39 record in the Dawn Staley era. Under Staley, South Carolina is 7-16 against ranked opponents at Colonial Life Arena, 9-12 on the road and 4-11 at neutral sites. Tonight’s game is the second No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle the Gamecocks have played in their now 41 seasons of women’s basketball. Then-No. 2 South Carolina hosted No. 1 Louisiana Tech on Jan. 8, 1982, with the Lady Techsters taking home a 71-58 victory. Historically, South Carolina has played a team ranked in the top two in the nation 29 times – 12 vs. No. 1, 17 vs. No. 2 – with the Gamecocks also ranked in just eight of those matchups. The highest-ranked team South Carolina has ever defeated is No. 3, which it did three times – Auburn on Feb. 27, 1993; Auburn on Dec. 29, 1990; and Louisiana Tech on March 23, 1980.

Diehard Defenders
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 50.0 points per game with no opponent scoring more than 63 points. In fact, South Carolina has held an opponent under 50 points 12 times in 22 games this season. The defensive result has been the same whether in Colonial Life Arena (allowing 50.9 points per game) on elsewhere (allowing 49.2 points per game in away/neutral site). In SEC play, South Carolina yields a league-best 52.8 points per game and has limited some of the conference’s highest scoring teams well beneath their averages. Kentucky (2nd in the SEC in scoring) has scored 74.6 points per game in their eight games against other SEC teams but netted just 60 against the Gamecocks. Ranked fourth in the conference in scoring, LSU’s 66.3 average in nine other league games is well above the 51 it scored at home against South Carolina. In all, five teams failed to reach their average against other league schools while playing the Gamecocks – Missouri (57.7 – 49), Florida (59.9 – 42) and Georgia (59.9 – 35).

B Aggressive
A 5-foot-6, lightning-quick, ultra-creative college point guard can earn a lot of clever nicknames. South Carolina simply calls its version “B,” as in Bianca Cuevas. The freshman from the Bronx, N.Y., has found the controls of her fast-paced, high risk/high reward style, and the Gamecocks are reaping the rewards as she grasps the balance head coach Dawn Staley wants her point guard to have between creating her own shot and doing the same for others. In South Carolina’s 12 non-conference games, Cuevas averaged 4.7 points and 1.8 assists in 13.6 minutes per game, shooting 37.9 percent from the field and 23.3 percent from 3-point range. In SEC action, she has lifted her averages to 9.0 points and 1.9 assists in 17.4 minutes and is shooting 42.9 percent, including 30.4 percent from outside the arc.. A bulk of those numbers have been established in the last five games, during which Cuevas has shined with 11.6 points and 2.4 assists in 20.2 minutes per game on 51.2 percent shooting with 38.5 percent accuracy from 3-point range.