Nov. 17, 2015
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 2/2 South Carolina opens a five-game road swing on Wed., Nov. 18, at archrival Clemson with the women’s basketball point in the Palmetto Series on the line. Tipoff at Jervey Gym is set for 7 p.m.
- South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley continues this week’s Virginia reunion tour, facing former teammate Audra Smith on the sidelines tonight. Sunday’s matchup of UVa alums saw Staley topple another Cavalier great in Wendy Palmer, now coaching UNCG. Staley and Smith were teammates on Virginia’s 1989-92 teams, helping the Cavaliers to three NCAA Final Fours, including a spot in the 1991 championship game.
- While Clemson leads the overall series 33-27, South Carolina has made up ground recently and been especially dominant in the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks have won eight of the last 10 meetings and have claimed the last five contests by an average of 27.4 points, including last season’s 58-point victory — the largest of the series by either team. The Tigers’ last win in the series was a 94-92 double-overtime victory at Littlejohn Coliseum on Nov. 19, 2009.
- Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson was named SEC Player of the Week this week after posting a pair of double-doubles in the Gamecocks’ opening-weekend victories. It was her first such honor from the league after claiming five SEC Freshman of the Week honors last season.
- Junior forward Alaina Coates has been the model of efficiency so far this season. Averaging a double-double — one of three Gamecocks to currently claim that feat — she is shooting 75.0 percent from the field on the season. Coates hit 6-of-9 against #6/10 Ohio State then connected on 6-of-7 against UNCG.
Head coach Dawn Staley is often thought of as a defensive coach, but she has steadily built an efficient offensive team over the last few seasons, culminating in the 2014-15 squad’s 79.5 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting. That group ranked 18th in the nation in scoring and fourth in field goal percentage. This season, South Carolina is shooting 48.5 percent from the field and averaging 90.0 points.
Legacy of Leadership
South Carolina has thrived under excellent leadership from its team-selected captains the last few seasons. While some thought that area would be a question mark heading into this season, the Gamecocks selected their four returning seniors — Asia Dozier, Tiffany Mitchell, Tina Roy and Khadijah Sessions — as their captains. All but Roy have served in that capacity at least once prior to this season.
The Gamecocks were one of three preseason top-25 teams to kick off their season against another ranked opponent last weekend and the only one to come away with the victory. Friday’s season opener marked just the fourth in program history against a ranked opponent — the second of the Dawn Staley era. With the 88-80 win over #6/10 Ohio State, South Carolina is 2-2 in openers against ranked opponents. The only other top-25 battle in an opener was #18/17 Kentucky, playing its second game of the season, against #15/15 Arizona State in its season opener, which the Wildcats won 68-64 in overtime.
The Wooden Award announced its 30-member Watch List this week with South Carolina occupying three of the positions to match UConn for most selections. After being a finalist for the award last season, senior guard Tiffany Mitchell is back on the list. Junior Alaina Coates and sophomore A’ja Wilson are also recognized this season.