Jan. 27, 2016
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// Game Notes // @GamecockWBB
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 2/2 South Carolina returns to Colonial Life Arena for the first time in three games to host Ole Miss on Thu., Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. on SEC Network+ via the WatchESPN app. The Gamecocks (19-0, 7-0 SEC) will welcome the friendly home crowd after posting a pair of road wins last week and a trip to #10/10 Texas A&M on the horizon this Sunday. South Carolina’s seniors continue to drive the team’s success, complementing the inside game of Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson by delivering key points in tight games, including Sunday’s win at then-#10/10 Mississippi State.
- South Carolina has built its series lead against Ole Miss by winning eight of the 10 contests since the arrival of head coach Dawn Staley (2008-09 season). During that stretch, the Gamecocks’ eight wins have come by an average of 15.0 points while each of the two losses were by a single point.
- The Gamecocks have thrived in crunch time this season, using their vast experience in tight, big games. With eight games this season within 10 points in the final five minutes of play, including six against top-20 opponents, South Carolina has out-shot its opponents 58.9 percent to 31.4 percent and controlled the glass 48-32 in those crucial last five minutes. No one player has dominated that stretch with four Gamecocks averaging just shy of two points, led by A’ja Wilson’ 3.8 per final 5:00.
- South Carolina’s four-year seniors — Asia Dozier, Tiffany Mitchell, Tina Roy and Khadijah Sessions — average a combined 35.9 points per SEC game, which is up from their 28.5 points per non-conference game.
- Junior center Alaina Coates leads the SEC in rebounding both overall and in league play. Her 9.6 rebounds per game on the season and 10.3 per SEC game come via 12 double-digit rebounding games. She has grabbed at least 10 boards in every SEC game and 10 of her last 11 outings.
- In SEC play, the Gamecocks lead the league in six categories — scoring (71.7), scoring margin (+17.4), field goal percentage (.462), field goal percentage defense (.333), 3-point field goal percentage (.358) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0), despite four of their seven games coming against ranked opponents.
- Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell lived up to her “Takeover Tiff” moniker, taking Sunday’s game at #10/10 Mississippi State into her own hands to turn a one-point lead into a six-point advantage with seven straight points in a 47-second span.
By the Numbers
1 Game in which the Gamecocks have shot less than 40.0 percent from the field, compared to 15 games in which an opponent has shot under that mark
4 Gamecocks ranked among the SEC’s top 25 scorers in conference play — Tiffany Mitchell (5th, 16.3 ppg), A’ja Wilson (9th, 14.0), Alaina Coates (25th, 10.3) and Tina Roy (25th, 10.3)
7 Consecutive games of double-digit rebounds by junior center Alaina Coates, who has 12 on the season, including five against ranked opponents
18 Quarters in which the Gamecocks have held an opponent to single digits, including seven in SEC play
Ole Miss Series Notes
South Carolina leads the series 18-17 after winning the last six meeting and eight of 10 contests in the Dawn Staley era with both losses coming by a single point. The Gamecocks hold a 10-5 record against the Rebels in Columbia, including a 3-1 mark in the Staley era. Those wins have come by an average of 20.3 points with the loss a one-point decision on Feb. 8, 2009. South Carolina junior Alaina Coates has enjoyed her two career games against Ole Miss, averaging 17.0 points and 11.0 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field. Senior Khadijah Sessions has also been an efficient scorer against the Rebels, hitting 58.8 percent from the field for 9.7 points per game in her three career outings. The most recent meeting between the teams was a 77-59 South Carolina victory on Feb. 1, 2015, in Oxford as five Gamecocks scored in double figures. Then-freshman Bianca Cuevas enjoyed a breakout game with 21 points in just 24 minutes, while Coates posted a double-double in her 24 minutes of action.
Home Sweet Home
The Gamecocks are riding a 43-game win streak at Colonial Life Arena into today’s game — the longest active home win streak in the nation. 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 is 403-155 (.722) at home, including a 158-58 (.731) record at Colonial Life Arena. Head coach Dawn Staley owns a 92-25 (.786) record at home.
Led by arguably among the best frontcourts in the nation, South Carolina ranks 10th in the country in free throw attempts at 447. The Gamecocks average 23.5 free throw attempts per game, best among teams ranked in the AP Top 25. South Carolina’s 291 made free throws is 24th in the nation
Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell has powered the Gamecocks to some of their most dynamic victories, but her all-around effort and impact has never been limited to the big moments or to the offensive end. The Charlotte, N.C., native’s greatness is felt in every possession of every game, and the numbers back it up. This season, in SEC play, Mitchell ranks among the league’s top 10 in five categories and comes in 11th in one more. Her team-best 16.3 points per league game are fifth in the league and is her 41.4 field goal percentage comes in seventh. Mitchell is ninth in steals per game (2.51) and assists per game (3.1), and she is 10th in assist-to-turnover radio (1.1). Her 78.0 free throw percentage is 11th.
The Senior Sessions
Named a team captain for the second time in three seasons, senior Khadijah Sessions has had a vice-like grip on the starting point guard spot for the Gamecocks over the last three seasons. After leading the team to back-to-back SEC regular-season championships and the program’s first NCAA Final Four during that stretch, the Myrtle Beach, S.C., native took the challenge of expanding her offensive game to force opposing defenses to honor her as a scoring threat, especially in the half-court. Sessions has delivered so far, shooting a career-best 51.9 percent from the field this season, including 59.4 percent in SEC play, during which she is 6-of-11 (.545) from 3-point range as well. She has scored at least five points 15 times through 19 games, including four double-digit outings. Through seven conference games, Sessions averages 8.1 points, while still averaging 1.7 assists and 2.1 steals.