Nov. 12, 2015
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 2/2 South Carolina officially launches its 2015-16 season on Fri., Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena against No. 6/10 Ohio State. The Gamecocks tackle a tough opponent right out of the gate this season as each team has high-octane offense and All-American leading scorers named Mitchell in Tiffany for the Gamecocks and Kelsey for the Buckeyes. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with a ceremony to celebrate the 2014-15 Gamecocks’ achievements starting at 6:45 p.m.
- South Carolina will begin tonight with a ceremony to recognize the 2014-15 team’s accomplishments, including the distribution of rings and the unveiling of banners for the team’s SEC regular-season and tournament championships and NCAA Final Four appearance.
- Both Ohio State and South Carolina return a bulk of their high-octane offenses from 2014-15. The Gamecocks bring back 77.9 percent of their 75.9 points per game, which is the third-best scoring average in program history. The Buckeyes netted a school record 2,836 points and return 2,804 of them. Both teams return preseason All-American Mitchells as their leading scorers in Tiffany for the Gamecocks (14.4) and Kelsey for the Buckeyes (24.9). Both also led their teams in assists.
- South Carolina’s roster boasts 11 returning letterwinners, including five juniors and four seniors. The Buckeyes bring just six upperclassmen into the season.
- Both teams tonight have stacked schedules this season with the Gamecocks playing 10 games against opponents in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls, while the Buckeyes will have 12 against teams in either poll.
- South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 11-3 in season openers in her career, including a 5-2 mark at South Carolina. Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff is 9-4 in season openers in his career with a 1-1 mark at OSU.
Ohio State Series Notes
The Buckeyes have a 2-1 edge in the all-time series with the Gamecocks, but the two teams have not met since the 1980-81 season. The home team has won every game of the series.
Preseason Poll Pop
For the second-straight season, South Carolina is ranked No. 2 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll, which is the best preseason rank in program history. The Gamecocks spent the entire 2014-15 season ranked in the top three in the nation, including 12 weeks at No. 1 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” the first-ever No. 1 ranking for the program.
South Carolina is 29-12 all-time in season openers with a 14-1 record in openers played at home. Head coach Dawn Staley has led the Gamecocks to a 5-2 record on opening day with just one of those games coming against a nationally ranked opponent ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” Nov. 15, 2010, an 84-65 loss to No. 5 Xavier. Tonight’s game is just the Gamecocks’ fourth opener all-time against a ranked opponent. In addition to the loss to Xavier, South Carolina toppled No. 7 Texas Tech on Nov. 23, 1990, in Hawaii and fell at No. 6 Auburn on Nov. 28, 1989 to kick off those seasons.
South Carolina’s 10 wins against ranked foes last season set a new program record, topping the eight wins of the 1979-80 squad. Of those 10 wins, five came against a top-10 foe. This season, the Gamecocks have 10 games on the schedule against teams ranked in the preseason top 20, including three against top-10 entries. After posting a 14-8 record against ranked opponents over the last two seasons, head coach Dawn Staley has a 25-42 mark vs. the nation’s best teams during her South Carolina tenure, highlighted by a 13-8 mark when the Gamecocks carry a better ranking than their opponent into the contest.
South Carolina is coming off its most successful season, winning a school-record 34 games, earning its first-ever No. 1 national ranking (holding the position for 12 weeks), repeating as SEC regular-season champions and advancing to the NCAA Final Four for the first time. The Gamecocks also won their first SEC Tournament title in their first appearance in the championship game. Scoring 75.9 points per game, South Carolina ranked 18th in the nation in scoring while maintaining its defensive presence at 12th in the nation, allowing just 54.1 points per game. The Gamecocks’ .484 field goal percentage was fourth-best in the nation, and they also ranked among the nation’s top 10 in scoring margin (+21.7, 3rd), field goal percentage defense (.349, 10th), rebound margin (+9.6, 10th) and blocked shots (6.3, 7th).
Home Sweet Home
The Gamecocks are riding a 34-game winning streak at Colonial Life Arena into tonight’s game. South Carolina turned in back-to-back perfect seasons, going 16-0 at home in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The Gamecocks’ last loss at Colonial Life Arena was a 50-48 decision to No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 10, 2013.
Great Gamecock Fans
The state of South Carolina has rallied around head coach Dawn Staley’s program in unprecedented numbers. The Gamecocks have led the nation in average attendance increase in each of the last two seasons and paced the country in average attendance last season at 12,293. South Carolina played in front of over 10,000 fans 15 times last season with 13 of those coming at Colonial Life Arena. The 17,156 fans that turned out for the Jan. 11 game against Kentucky were just shy of the women’s basketball record of 17,712 (vs. Clemson, 11/22/02) at the facility. Opponents should be ready for more of the same this season as the South Carolina Ticket Office has distributed the full allotment of over 11,000 season tickets. Only single-game, general admission tickets remain available for purchase.