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Feb. 22, 2015


South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Tennessee Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Promotions | Parking Information | Buy Tickets

Coach Staley
Aleighsa Welch and Alaina Coates
In January 2014, Nikki McCray-Penson publicly announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. After successful treatment and being told she is in remission, she’s not done with fighting the disease.

Game Information

Opponent: No. 6/6 Tennessee (23-3, 13-0 SEC)
Date: Monday, February 23, 2015 | 9 p.m.
Site: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 and under) Buy Now
Broadcast: ESPN2 (Dave O’Brien, pxp; Doris Burke, analyst); via WatchESPN
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller); Sirius 92, XM 190;
Live Stats:
Series History: TN leads 45-2

South Carolina Notables

  • The Gamecocks celebrate Play 4 Kay with tonight’s “Pink Out” presented by Academy Sports and Outdoors with the first 1,000 fans receiving pink rally towels. South Carolina will wear pink uniforms, and both teams’ coaching staffs will wear Kay Yow pins. Breast cancer survivors and those still battling will walk a lap around the court at halftime.
  • South Carolina is in its 41st season of women’s basketball. It is the program’s 24th season in the SEC and the seventh under head coach Dawn Staley. South Carolina has won at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons and played in the last three NCAA Tournaments, including two trips to the Sweet 16 (2012, 2014). The Gamecocks have spent 23 straight weeks ranked in the AP top 10, highlighted by 12 weeks at No. 1 this season.
  • The Gamecocks’ 3-point shooting has been especially efficient lately as they have shot 44.7 percent (34-of-76) over the last six games. Their 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from long range against LSU was a season high and this season’s fourth game shooting over 50.0 percent. In addition to the season-long proficiency of junior Tiffany Mitchell, hitting 46.3 percent from outside the arc, junior Tina Roy has lifted her 3-point percentage to 41.6 percent on the season, including a team-best 47.2 percent in SEC action, and Khadijah Sessions has hit 7-of-10 over the last four games.
  • South Carolina has scored 82.7 points per game over the last three outings, up 5.0 points per game from their previous season average. Many of those additional points have come at the free throw line, where the Gamecocks have shot 80.9 percent in the last three games, generating 18.3 made free throws per game during the stretch compared to 14.8 previously while attempting roughly the same amount per game – 22.7 last three, 22.3 prior.
  • Junior point guard Khadijah Sessions has been a star on both sides of the ball for the Gamecocks lately. Always a steady defender who sets the tone on the defensive end, she has been making a splash offensively, especially in the last four games, during which she has averaged 8.5 points on 57.1 percent shooting, including 70.0 percent from 3-point range. Sessions has handed out 3.3 assists per game and swiped 2.8 steals per game during the stretch as well.
  • Freshman A’ja Wilson has been on a tear since the Gamecocks’ first loss of the season at UConn. The top player in the 2014 signing class has scored 60 points in just 66 minutes of play in the last three games, averaging 20 points on 65.5 percent shooting. She has been especially aggressive going to the basket, averaging 7.0 made free throws per game over the stretch.
  • When the Gamecocks most need to score, junior Tiffany Mitchell most often answers the call by either scoring herself or setting up a teammate. In the six SEC games that an opponent closed within 10 points in the second half, Mitchell played a significant role in the game-changing South Carolina run four times – Auburn, Kentucky, Texas A&M and at Arkansas.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Be the Gamecocks’ 31st straight at home, which would be the second-longest active streak in the nation.
  • Give South Carolina 14 SEC wins for the second time in as many seasons and school history.
  • Be the Gamecocks’ first over Tennessee since Feb. 2, 2012, and the first in Columbia since Jan. 23, 1980.

By the Numbers
Rebound needed by senior Aleighsa Welch to move into the program’s all-time top five in career boards
4 Games in which South Carolina has shot over 50.0 percent from 3-point range, including two of the last four contests
5.9 Free throws made per game more by the Gamecocks than their opponents (15.1-9.2)
6.3 Made 3s per game over the last three outings, compared to 5.0 prior to the LSU contest
7 Of the Gamecocks’ nine primary contributors who have at least one stat better in SEC play than in non-conference action
9.3 Rebounds per game by senior Aleighsa Welch in the six games against ranked teams this season
10 SEC games in which the Gamecocks have assisted on at least 50.0 percent of their field goals, including the last three
11 Double-doubles by Alaina Coates this season, tied for most in the SEC, including five in league play
12 Games in which the Gamecocks have shot at least 50.0 percent from the field, including six SEC contests
14 Games in which the Gamecocks have out-rebounded their opponent by 10 or more, including seven in SEC play
15 Games in which South Carolina’s bench has tied or out-scored its starters, including 10 SEC contests
17.1 Points per game more in the paint scored by the Gamecocks than their opponents (39.7-22.6)
21 Career double-doubles by sophomore Alaina Coates, who ranks ninth in program history
26 Times this season a Gamecock has played 30 or more minutes in a game, compared to 71 times last season
60 Points scored by freshman A’ja Wilson in the last three games, during which she has played just 66 minutes.
77.1 Percent free throw shooting by the Gamecocks in the last five minutes of games with a margin of 10 or fewer points

Tennessee Series History
The Lady Vols lead the series 45-2 with the Gamecocks’ last win in the series coming on Feb. 2, 2012, in South Carolina’s first ever in Knoxville. The teams last met at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 3, 2013, with Tennessee posting a 73-53 victory. Ranked Readings South Carolina is facing its seventh ranked opponent of the season tonight with a 5-1 record against such foes. The Gamecocks are 70-217 all-time against ranked teams with a 20-40 record in the Dawn Staley era. Under Staley, South Carolina is 7-16 against ranked opponents at Colonial Life Arena, 9-13 on the road and 4-11 at neutral sites. Tonight marks this season’s fourth game against a top-10 opponent, during which the Gamecocks are 2-1. Just one of the previous three top-10 matchups was at Colonial Life Arena – a 68-60 win over then-No. 10 Kentucky.

Home Sweet Home
The Gamecocks are in the midst of unprecedented success at Colonial Life Arena, having won the last 30 games on their home court, including the facility’s first perfect season in 2013-14. That 16-0 mark alone matched the previous record for win streak at the Arena, originally set Jan. 20, 2002-Jan. 9, 2003. South Carolina’s last loss at Colonial Life Arena was a 50-48 decision to then-No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 10, 2013. The longest home win streak in school history is 32 games, which spanned three seasons. That streak began with a win over Clemson on Dec. 10, 1977, and ended with a win over Tennessee Tech on March 4, 1980. The stretch included a perfect 11-0 record in 1978-79 at Carolina Coliseum (9-0) and the Sol Blatt P.E. Center (2-0). Overall, South Carolina is 145-58 (.714) at Colonial Life Arena, including a 79-25 (.760) mark under head coach Dawn Staley. In the now 41-year history of the program, the Gamecocks are 390-155 (.716) in home games.

Crowd Control
With over 8,200 season tickets issued, the Gamecocks have enjoyed unprecedented support at Colonial Life Arena this season. South Carolina has led the nation in average attendance (12,176). In fact, the Gamecocks boast four of the top-10 game attendances in the nation this season with Tennessee and Louisville the only other programs with multiple entries – each with two. South Carolina’s four entries range from the 17,156 for the Kentucky game – second most in Colonial Life Arena history and in the nation this season – to the 12,342 for LSU. South Carolina women’s basketball has logged 13 crowds of over 10,000 fans in Colonial Life Arena history, 12 of which have come in the last three seasons, including nine this season.

Conference Climbing
The Gamecocks’ 26 games are evenly divided between conference and non-conference action, and seven of South Carolina’s nine primary contributors have shown marked improvement in at least one statistic from non-conference to SEC action. Three Gamecocks have improved their scoring averages by at least one point per game – Bianca Cuevas (4.5 to 7.8 ppg), Khadijah Sessions (4.0 to 5.3 ppg) and Tina Roy (4.1 to 5.2 ppg). All three have improved field goal percentages to thank for the increase with Cuevas going from 35.9 percent to 40.5, Sessions rising from 31.6 percent to 51.0 and Roy improving from 35.3 percent to 48.0. The latter two made significant leaps from outside the 3-point line – Sessions (23.1 to 40.9%) and Roy (36.1 to 46.3%). Two have lifted their rebounding averages – Aleighsa Welch (5.6 to 6.8 rpg) and A’ja Wilson (6.5 to 7.1 rpg). Wilson and Alaina Coates are blocking more shots per game – 1.3 to 1.8 bpg for Wilson and 1.4 to 1.7 for Coates. Tiffany Mitchell rounds out the group, lifting her steals per game from 1.9 to 2.2 in SEC action.

Crunch Time
South Carolina has won all five of its games this season when the margin is under 10 points in the last five minutes, and the Gamecocks have done so with their primary strengths – Tiffany Mitchell and rebounding. In those five games – Southern Cal, vs. #22/22 Syracuse, at #9/8 Duke, #10/11 Kentucky and at Missouri – Staley trusts in Mitchell’s competitive spirit, giving her the ball in late-game situations. The junior has answered the bell, averaging 3.6 points per final five minutes of those games – double the next Gamecock on the list. Behind her fearless attacking of the rim, a majority of her points have come at the free throw line, where she has hit 12-of-14 attempts during those close-game situations. In a show of determination, the Gamecocks have also dominated the glass at crunch time, out-rebounding their opponents 6.2 to 4.4 per final five minutes, with Alaina Coates, A’ja Wilson and Aleighsa Welch grabbing the bulk of the boards. As a team, South Carolina is shooting 40.0 percent from the field and the same percentage from 3-point range in the last five minutes of close games, while the defense has held those opponents to just 21.2 percent shooting and 18.2 percent from outside the arc in that time span. Equally impressive is the Gamecocks’ 77.1 percent (27-of-35) free throw shooting at crunch time, as South Carolina is shooting just 67.0 percent (365-of-545) otherwise.