Jan. 6, 2016
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 2/2 South Carolina travels to Nashville for a 9 p.m. (ET) matchup against Vanderbilt on Thu., Jan. 7. The Gamecocks (13-0, 1-0 SEC) are looking to continue a trend of winning the last three meetings with the Commodores (11-3, 1-0 SEC) at Memorial Gymnasium, but the margin of victory in those games has been just 4.0 points per game. South Carolina’s offense has been on the rise the last five game, and the defense took a big step forward to start SEC play, holding Arkansas to just 32 points and 24.1 percent shooting — both season lows for Gamecock opponents.
- South Carolina looks to open its SEC season with a 2-0 record for the third-straight season and the sixth time in the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks are 30-3 in SEC play since 2013-14 with all three losses coming on the road.
- The last three games between the Gamecocks and Commodores at Memorial Gymnasium have all gone South Carolina’s way, but by just an average of 4.0 points. The Gamecocks won their last three home games against the Commodores by 18.7 points per game.
- After a solid performance on both sides of the ball against Arkansas, South Carolina moved up the SEC standings in all but three statistical categories this week (free throw percentage, steals, blocked shots). The Gamecocks are at their season-best standing in field goal percentage (3rd) and field goal percentage defense (2nd).
- Over the last five games, South Carolina has averaged 84.6 points on 50.0 percent shooting while allowing opponents just 47.4 points per game on 30.0 percent shooting. With the recent dominance, the Gamecocks currently rank among the nation’s top 25 in scoring offense (25th), scoring defense (23rd), scoring margin (6th), field goal percentage (14th) and field goal percentage defense (9th).
- South Carolina’s 53-point win over Arkansas on Sunday was the Gamecocks’ second-highest margin of victory in an SEC regular-season game. It came with the team’s top three scorers (Alaina Coates, Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson) contributing just 37 of the team’s 85 points (43.5 percent). In non-conference play, the trio accounted for 53.7 percent of the team’s scoring (503 of 936 points).
- Redshirt-freshman guard Doniyah Cliney was cleared to practice this week and expects to see time tonight.
By the Numbers
5 Games this season in which multiple Gamecocks have posted a double-double
6 Gamecocks who are ranked in the SEC’s top 20 in at least one statistical category
7 3-Pointers made by Tina Roy against Arkansas (Jan. 3), tying the program record for 3s in an SEC game
11 Career double-doubles in SEC play by Alaina Coates, tying the program record
14 Points needed by junior center Alaina Coates to reach 1,000 in her career
29.4 Percent shooting by Gamecock opponents in the fourth quarter, while South Carolina has shot 50.5 percent in the final period this season
Vanderbilt Series Notes
The Commodores lead the series 21-12, but the Gamecocks have won the last six meeting. South Carolina is 4-11 at Vanderbilt with three of those wins have come in the last three trips to Memorial Gym. Each of those three games was decided by single digits for an average margin of victory of 4.0 points. In the most recent meeting, the Gamecocks used a dominant first half to power past the Commodores 89-59 on Feb. 15, 2015, at Colonial Life Arena. Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson each had 20 points. While Vanderbilt shot a better percentage than the Gamecocks, South Carolina turned 22 turnovers into 29 points and dominated the glass 43-23.
Overall, South Carolina is 217-243 (.472) in road games, including a 48-34 (.585) record during the Dawn Staley era. After a difficult start as the Gamecocks’ mentor, Staley has guided her team to three of the program’s top five road records in program history, including 2013-14’s school-record winning percentage of .833 (10-2). Last season’s .818 winning percentage (9-2) was second-best, while the 2012-13 team’s .733 (11-4) mark is fifth in program history. This season, South Carolina is 3-0 in road games.
The Gamecocks have played three games decided by single-digit points this season, two of which they trailed at halftime but came back to win. In those outings, offense has made the difference with the Gamecocks shooting 52.0 percent from the field in the fourth quarters of those three games. Of these three opponents, only Arizona State out-shot South Carolina in the fourth quarter (.353-.313) with the Gamecocks making up the difference at the free throw line and on the glass in the waning moments of the contest. Overall, South Carolina shoots much better in the second half (49.9 percent) than the first (44.5 percent) as opposing defenses begin to feel the effects of the Gamecocks’ frontcourt and pace of play. South Carolina’s offensive efficiency builds steadily throughout the game with 16 of the 26 quarters in which the Gamecocks have shot at least 50 percent coming in the second half.
Junior center Alaina Coates has the size and skill to take over games against any opponent and continues to grow more comfortable in that role. With six double-doubles this season, she is among the SEC top 20 in both scoring (17th, 13.1 ppg) and rebounding (3rd, 9.1 rpg). Her .680 field goal percentage leads the league and ranks second in the nation. Her 2.0 blocks per game are second-best in the league as well. With 28 career double-doubles she is tied for seventh in program history in that category, just four shy of reaching the all-time top five. With her double-double against Arkansas (Jan. 3), she tied the program record of 11 in SEC play. The SEC’s active leader with 152 career blocks, Coates holds third place in South Carolina history in the category. She is just 25 shy of Lakesha Tolliver’s (2004-07) career record of 177.