Dec. 4, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 2/2 South Carolina opens a three-game home stand at Colonial Life Arena and month-long stay in its home state with a 2 p.m. tipoff against No. 14/13 Duke on Sun., Dec. 6. The Gamecocks (7-0) and Blue Devils (7-1) played a nail-biter in Durham last season with South Carolina stealing the 51-50 win in the final seconds of the contest. Both teams are led by sophomores in A’ja Wilson for the Gamecocks and Azura Stevens for the Blue Devils who teamed up to help South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley guide the U.S. to a gold medal in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships last summer.
- Two of South Carolina’s seven wins this season have come against nationally ranked opponents, while Duke’s lone loss is its only decision against a ranked foe.
- Statistically, the Gamecocks and Blue Devils match up well in most categories. South Carolina takes the edge in scoring, ranking 54th in the nation in points per game to Duke’s 62nd. The Blue Devils have the advantage in both offensive and defensive field goal percentage, coming in among the country’s top 20 in both categories while the Gamecocks are 31st and 42nd, respectively. Both teams rank among the top 25 in blocked shots.
- In last season’s one-point thriller, both teams struggled to shoot in the second half but rebounded in the second as South Carolina hit 56.0 percent from the field to Duke’s 44.0 percent in the final 20 minutes of action. The Gamecocks led in the paint 32-24, including the final two of A’ja Wilson’s putback to win the game.
Duke Series Notes
The Gamecocks lead the series 2-1 after last season’s late-game heroics from then-freshman A’ja Wilson yielded a 51-50 win in Durham on Dec. 4. Following a Tiffany Mitchell 3-pointer, the Gamecocks still trailed by one with 10.9 seconds to play when then-senior Olivia Gaines came up with a steal as South Carolina had Rebecca Greenwell trapped on the sideline. Wilson’s connected on a putback with two seconds left to deliver the win for then-No. 1/2 South Carolina over then-No. 9/8 Duke. The two teams split their previous two meetings, both taking place in the 2001-02 season. South Carolina posted a 87-81 overtime win at Cameron Indoor Stadium over then-No. 9 Duke on Nov. 25, 2001. The Blue Devils got their revenge on March 25, 2002, in the NCAA Tournament regional final in Raleigh, N.C., with a 77-68 victory that carried them into the Final Four. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 1-2 in her career against Duke. Both games came during her tenure at Temple. As a player at Virginia, Staley went 8-1 against the Blue Devils with a 3-1 mark in Durham.
Home Sweet Home
The Gamecocks are riding a 36-game winning streak at Colonial Life Arena into today’s game — the second-longest active home win streak in the nation (trailing UConn’s 37 and leading Maryland’s 27). 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.
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 11 games on the schedule against teams currently ranked in the top 25, including four against top-10 entries. South Carolina opened the season with a win over No. 6/10 Ohio State and following with a victory over No. 16/18 Arizona State. After posting a 16-8 record against ranked opponents since the start of the 2013-14 season, head coach Dawn Staley has a 27-42 mark vs. the nation’s best teams during her South Carolina tenure, highlighted by a 15-8 mark when the Gamecocks carry a better ranking than their opponent into the contest.
South Carolina remains at No. 2 in the nation in both polls this week, marking the 23rd-straight time the Gamecocks have been ranked among the nation’s top three teams. South Carolina has held a top-10 position in the Associated Press poll for 34 straight weeks and been ranked in the AP top 25 for 58 consecutive weeks (beginning Dec. 10, 2012). The longest ranked streak in school history is 62 weeks — Feb. 27, 1979 through Jan. 9, 1983.
Through 28 quarters so far this season, South Carolina has out-scored its opponent 21 times with the Gamecocks topping their foe by double digits seven times, including a season-high 19 (27-8) in the third quarter at Clemson (Nov. 18). This season’s best first-quarter differential was 13 (27-15) vs. CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 28), second-quarter advantage 17 (26-9) against UNCG (Nov. 15) and fourth-quarter edge 12 (26-14) vs. CSUB. South Carolina has shot at least 50.0 percent in 12 quarters this season with a high of 75.0 percent (9-of-12) in the third quarter at Clemson. Defensively, of the 10 lowest scoring quarters by opponents, six have come in the second half of games. The three lowest shooting percentage quarters for opposing teams have all been in the second half, including the season-low 17.6 percent (3-of-17) shot by UNCG in the third quarter. Individually, sophomore forward A’ja Wilson has turned in the top three quarter point totals for South Carolina, netting double digits in all three led by her 12 in the fourth quarter against #6/10 Ohio State (Nov. 13).
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.
Bronx, N.Y., native Bianca Cuevas enjoyed her trip to Hawaii, turning the best three-game stretch of her career in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown. The 5-foot-6 guard averaged 17.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 54.1 percent from the field over the three-game event. Against Arizona State, 11 of her team-high tying 18 points came in the second half as the Gamecocks rallied from a three-point halftime deficit. She scored the last five points of the third quarter to give South Carolina a 45-42 lead heading into the fourth then netted the first six points of that period as well. Cuevas’ 20 points against CSU Bakersfield was one shy of her career high, came on 8-of-12 shooting and accompanied a career-high six assists.