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Feb. 14, 2015

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Parking Shuttle Info | Promotions |

Game Information

Opponent: Vanderbilt (13-11, 4-7 SEC)
Date: Sunday, February 15, 2015 | Noon
Site: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 and under)
Broadcast: ESPNU (Roy Philpott, pxp; Brooke Weisbrod, analyst); via WatchESPN
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller);
Live Stats:
Series History: VU leads 21-11

South Carolina Notables

  • The Gamecocks have drawn 10,000 or more for eight of their 11 home games this season, highlighted by the 17,156 for the Kentucky game (Jan. 2) – the second-largest women’s basketball crowd in Arena history. South Carolina’s average attendance for home SEC games is 14,287, nearly 3,000 per game more than the next team, Tennessee.
  • South Carolina’s 3-point shooting has been especially efficient lately as the Gamecocks have shot 47.8 percent (22-of-46) over the last four games, including 12-of-21 (.571) in the last two outings. Their 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from long range against LSU was a season high and the fourth game shooting over 50.0 percent.
  • The Gamecocks lead the SEC in offensive and defensive categories across the board in league play – scoring offense (76.7) and defense (53.6), field goal percentage (.485) and field goal percentage defense (.332), and 3-point percentage (.360) and 3-point percentage defense (.238).
  • South Carolina has seen increased offensive production from its primary point guards in the last nine games as junior Khadijah Sessions and freshman Bianca Cuevas combine to average 14.8 points over the stretch, compared to their combined 8.7 scoring average prior to the Jan. 11 game against Kentucky. The duo has combined for double-digit scoring eight times in the last nine games compared to just five times in the first 15.
  • The Gamecock bench is among the most envied in the nation, averaging 38.0 points per game on the season. The group has tied or out-scored its starting teammates 14 times in 24 games, including nine of 11 SEC contests. Headlined by super-subs Alaina Coates (10.7 ppg/8.4 rpg) and A’ja Wilson (13.6 ppg/7.0 rpg), the group is actually multi-dimensional, especially in SEC action, during which freshman Bianca Cuevas is averaging 8.9 points and junior Tina Roy is shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point range.
  • Senior forward Aleighsa Welch has been steadily increasing her rebounding average since the start of SEC play, during which she averages 6.9 per game. Her production has especially skyrocketed in the last three outings, during which her 11.3 rebounds per game have lifted her season average nearly a full rebound per game – 5.5 rpg after Ole Miss (Feb. 1) to its current average of 6.2.
  • South Carolina’s top two scorers – Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson – continue to garner national attention for their role in the Gamecocks’ success. The two were honored last week as part of the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20, and senior Aleighsa Welch joined them on the Naismith Midseason Top 30 as well.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be the Gamecocks’ 30th straight at home, which would be the second-longest active streak in the nation.
  • Give South Carolina at least 12 SEC wins for the second-straight season and just the second time in program history.

By the Numbers
Game this season in which South Carolina has attempted fewer than 10 free throws
6 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have held a team to less than 30.0 percent shooting
5.4 Free throws made per game more by the Gamecocks than their opponents (14.8-9.4)
8.9 Points per SEC game by Bianca Cuevas, who averaged 4.5 in non-conference average
10 Double-doubles by Alaina Coates this season, tied for most in the SEC, including four in league play
11 Games in which the Gamecocks have shot at least 50.0 percent from the field, including five SEC contests
11.3 Rebounds per game by Aleigha Welch over the last three games
14 Games in which South Carolina’s bench has tied or out-scored its starters
21 Rank in career points in program history for junior Tiffany Mitchell (1,185), trailing a spot in the top 20 by 14 points
24 Times this season a Gamecock has played 30 or more minutes in a game, compared to 71 times last season
39.7 Points per game scored by the Gamecocks in the paint this season, compared to just 22.0 by their opponents.
52.1 Percent of the Gamecocks’ points in SEC games scored by the bench
77.1 Percent free throw shooting by the Gamecocks in the last five minutes of games with a margin of 10 or fewer points

Vanderbilt Series History
The Commodores lead the series 21-11, but the Gamecocks have won the last five meetings and are 6-2 against Vanderbilt in the Dawn Staley era. The Commodores’ last win in the series was a 74-60 overtime decision on Feb. 27, 2011, in Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks swept the two-game series last season, shooting at least 54.0 percent in each outing. Elem Ibiam narrowly missed a double-double in each game by a combined three rebounds as she scored 11 points against the Commodores at home an 10 in Nashville. Then-freshman Alaina Coates dominated the Commodores in the last meeting at Colonial Life Arena, posting 24 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in the Gamecocks’ 76-66 victory on Jan. 5, 2014.

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 sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 52.0 points per game with just one opponent scoring more than 63 points (87 by UConn, Feb. 9). In fact, South Carolina has held an opponent under 50 points 12 times in 24 games this season. In SEC play, South Carolina yields a league-best 53.6 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 77.0 points per game in their nine games against other SEC teams but netted just 60 against the Gamecocks. Ranked fifth in the conference in scoring, LSU’s 64.8 average in nine other league games is well above the 56.5 it averaged against South Carolina. In all, five teams failed to reach their average against other league schools while playing the Gamecocks – Missouri (58.4 – 49), Florida (58.6 – 42) and Georgia (57.7 – 35).

Controlled Caroms
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 ninth in the nation in rebounding margin, out-boarding its opponents by 10.8 per game. The Gamecocks have out-paced their opponent by double-digit rebounds 12 times this season, including five SEC outings. The rebounding margin has been at least 20 three times – Clemson (+22), Savannah State (+35) and at Hampton (+27). Only two teams – #22/22 Syracuse (Nov. 28) and #9/8 Duke (Dec. 7) – have out-rebounded South Carolina this season.

Bench Marks
While every competitor wants to be a starter, the Gamecocks have shown that the bench can be just as productive a position. The South Carolina bench has tied or out-scored its starting teammates 14 times this season, including nine SEC contests, and has out-scored the entire opposing team five times – Clemson (Nov. 20), San Diego State (Nov. 23), NC Central (Dec. 1) and Florida (Jan. 19). In all, the bench has accounted for 48.8 percent of the Gamecocks’ points this season, including 52.1 percent of the offense in SEC games. Of the 89 double-figure games turned in this season, 44 of them have come from the bench – A’ja Wilson (20), Alaina Coates (12), Bianca Cuevas (7), Tina Roy (2), Jatarie White (2) and Asia Dozier (1).

Diversified Assets
South Carolina is often lauded for the depth of its talent, and the Gamecocks’ improved offensive numbers certainly bear out those accolades – 14th in the nation at 77.7 points per game and fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (.484). The embarrassment of riches has not upset South Carolina’s chemistry but instead has strengthened it as each Gamecock plays for the good of the team instead of herself – a message head coach Dawn Staley often equates with USA Basketball’s utopian camaraderie and ultimate success. Two stats that best exemplify the all-for-one mentality of the team are in the assist numbers – 15th in the nation at 17.2 per game – and that only one Gamecock is averaging 10.0 shots per game. In fact, on one of the nation’s most efficient offensive teams, which features all five of its top scorers shooting over 50.0 percent, just one Gamecock has made the minimum field goals required for individual ranking in field goal percentage – Tiffany Mitchell (1st in SEC, 39th in nation).