Feb. 17, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 3/2 South Carolina pits the SEC’s top offense in league play against Georgia’s league-leading defense on Thu., Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks (24-1, 12-0) are looking to earn the outright SEC regular-season title with a win, while the Bulldogs (19-6, 7-5 SEC) angle to stay in the hunt for a top four seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament.
- South Carolina celebrates those who have fought breast cancer tonight in its annual Play 4 Kay game. In addition to the team wearing special pink warm-up shirts, the University’s Zeta Tau Alpha chapter is hosting a lap of honor at halftime with the husband and son of South Carolina assistant coach and cancer survivor Nikki McCray-Penson leading cancer survivors on a lap around the court.
- The Gamecocks and Bulldogs have engaged in defensive battles throughout the Dawn Staley era with South Carolina getting the better of Georgia in the last three outings. Over the 12 games since Staley took the reins at South Carolina, neither team averages over 54.0 points in the series. In the last five meetings, a team has scored at least 60 points just twice.
- After clinching a share of its third SEC regular-season title with Monday’s win at Tennessee, the Gamecocks can seal the out-right championship with a win tonight.
- The Gamecocks are among the country’s top six programs in wins over the last five seasons (2011-12 to present) with 137. Their .835 winning percentage in that time is seventh-best in the nation.
- South Carolina’s challenges at the free throw line have abated recently as the Gamecocks have shot 72.3 percent from the stripe over the last five games to lift their season percentage to .661. Despite the season-long challenge, South Carolina has delivered in the final five minutes of games throughout the year, making 68.4 percent of their attempts in the closing minutes of games. The crunch-time number has also gone up in the last five games, rising to 77.3 percent (34-of-44), which helped secure wins at #10/10 Texas A&M, vs. #18/18 Kentucky, #16/19 Florida and at #24/- Tennessee.
- Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell is closing in on the Gamecocks’ all-time top five in points — a list that hasn’t changed since Jocelyn Penn moved into fourth place in 2003.
- Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson has scored in double figures in all but three games this season and has a team-high seven 20-point outings, including two of the last five games.
- Junior center Alaina Coates ranks among NCAA Division I active career leaders in field goal percentage (5th, .611), rebounding average (20th, 8.6) and double-doubles (18th, 35).
- In the last five games, Coates leads the team in steals with 11, including a career-high four at #24/- Tennessee.
By the Numbers
2 Stats in which junior center Alaina Coates leads the SEC and ranks among the top 35 in the nation — rebounding (10.0, 32nd) and double-doubles (13, 16th)
5 Stats in which senior guard Tiffany Mitchell ranks among the nation’s top 30 active leaders — 3-point field goal percentage (7th, .409), games played (10th, 129), free throws made (414, 20th), free throw attempts (24th, 536), total points (29th, 1,731)
7 20-point games this season by A’ja Wilson, including four against SEC foes, who were all nationally ranked
72.3 Percent free throw shooting by the Gamecocks over their last five games, led by Mitchell’s 94.4 percent
Georgia Series Notes
The Bulldogs lead the series 33-10, but the Gamecocks have won four of the last five meetings and are 6-6 against Georgia in the Dawn Staley era. In nine of those 12 games, at least one team has been nationally ranked, including four games in which both teams were ranked. Georgia is 14-4 against South Carolina in Columbia, including a 2-2 record in its last four trips to Colonial Life Arena. Since Staley’s arrival for the 2008-09 season, defense has dominated the series with both teams averaging 54.0 or fewer points over the 12 games. A team has scored 65 or more points just five times and never both teams in the same game. Each team has been held under 40 points once in the series, including the Bulldogs’ 35-point outing in last season’s contest in Athens. In that 58-35 South Carolina victory on Feb. 5, 2015, the then-No. 1/1 Gamecocks held then-No. 22/21 Georgia to just 20.7 percent shooting, including 17.9 percent in the first half, and out-rebounded the Bulldogs 50-38. Bianca Cuevas led the Gamecocks in scoring with 16 points in just 20 minutes on the court.
Home Sweet Home
With a 12-1 mark this season, the Gamecocks have won 46 of their last 47 games at Colonial Life Arena. Prior to this season, South Carolina turned in back-to-back perfect seasons, going 16-0 at home in 2013-14 and 2014-15. South Carolina is 406-156 (.722) at home, including a 161-59 (.732) record at Colonial Life Arena. Head coach Dawn Staley owns a 95-26 (.785) record at home.
With a perfect 12-0 record so far this season, the Gamecocks have won 41 of their last 44 SEC regular-season games, beginning with the 2014 league opener at Arkansas. Only one other program has amassed 40 or more wins over a three-year span as Tennessee has reached the number 10 times. The SEC’s best three-season win total is 43, set by the Lady Vols in 2012 as they went 43-5 (2010-12) en route to two league titles. Tennessee also holds the best three-season win percentage, going undefeated (11-0) in its 1993, 1994 and 1995 campaigns.
South Carolina remains at No. 2 in the nation in the USA Today Coaches Poll while dropping to No. 3 in the AP poll this week, marking the 33rd-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 44 straight weeks and been ranked in the AP top 25 for 69 consecutive weeks (beginning Dec. 10, 2012), breaking the school record of 62 from Feb. 27, 1979 through Jan. 9, 1983.