Feb. 21, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 3/2 South Carolina opens a two-game road swing on Monday night at Alabama as SEC play enters its final week. The Gamecocks (25-1, 13-0) have a solid history with Crimson Tide (14-12, 3-10 SEC), leading the series 21-15 after winning the last 11 meetings. South Carolina senior guard Tiffany Mitchell averaged 17.7 points per game over the last three outings, and she looks to power the senior class to the program’s four-year record 114th victory.
- Alabama is the only SEC team against which South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is undefeated in her tenure with the Gamecocks, who have defeated the Crimson Tide by an average of 22.5 points during the 11-game stretch.
- Junior center Alaina Coates has especially thrived against Alabama through her first two seasons, averaging 14.7 points on 66.7 percent field goal shooting and snagging 7.3 rebounds per game.
- South Carolina became just the third program in SEC history to win three straight regular-season titles with Thursday’s win over Georgia. That victory was also the 113th for the 2016 Senior Class, matching the 2015 class’ program record. The trio of Asia Dozier, Tiffany Mitchell and Khadijah Sessions have gone 113-17 over the last four seasons for an 86.9 winning percentage.
- The Gamecocks lead the SEC in five categories in league play — 72.3 points per game, +14.5 scoring margin, .454 field goal percentage, 14.7 assists per game and 1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
- South Carolina is one of four teams to have multiple players named to the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 with senior guard Tiffany Mitchell and sophomore forward A’ja Wilson tapped among the nation’s best. Junior center Alaina Coates joined her teammates on the Naismith Midseason List (34 players).
- In SEC play, the Gamecocks boast three of the league’s top three scorers, two of its top four rebounders, two of its top four field goal percentage shooters and two of its top 10 3-point field goal makers. None of who rank among the league’s top 10 in minutes per game.
- The Gamecocks are among the country’s top six programs in wins over the last five seasons (2011-12 to present) with 138. Their .836 winning percentage in that time is seventh-best in the nation.
- Over the last five games, junior center Alaina Coates and senior guard Khadijah Sessions are tied for the team lead with 10 steals. Coates built hers steadily, capping her surge with four at #24/- Tennessee. Sessions snared six of her 10 against Georgia, finally breaking her previous of career high of four, which she did 14 times.
- Senior guard Khadijah Sessions averaged 10.2 points over the last five SEC games, including back-to-back 13-point outings to help the Gamecocks to wins at #24/- Tennessee and over Georgia.
- Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell averaged 17.0 points over the last five complete games she played. (She missed the second half vs. Kentucky with an injury.) In that run, 25 of her 85 points came from the free throw line, while 27 came from 3-point range.
By the Numbers
1 GOpponent who has scored more than half its points in the paint against the Gamecocks this season, compared to 16 games over 50.0 percent for South Carolina
5 Straight 25-win seasons by South Carolina, which has recorded just three others in program history
10.7 Points per game by senior guard Khadijah Sessions over the last three outings
18 Games in which South Carolina has assisted on at least half its made field goals
Alabama Series Notes
The Gamecocks lead the all-time series 22-15 and are undefeated against the Crimson Tide in the 11 games of the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09). Those 11 games include a pair of SEC Tournament matchups and two meetings last season while the Gamecocks were ranked No. 1 in the nation. South Carolina’s 11-game win streak against Alabama has an average winning margin of 22.5 points with a high of 43 in the last meeting in Tuscaloosa — a 102-59 victory on Jan. 8, 2015. South Carolina’s last lost in the series was a 65-54 Alabama victory on Jan. 10, 2008, in Tuscaloosa. In sweeping last season’s home-and-home series, the Gamecocks shot a combined 60.3 percent from the field, including a program SEC-best 63.8 percent (37-of-58) in the Jan. 8 game at Foster Auditorium. That game featured six Gamecocks scoring in double figures, headlined by Alaina Coates’ 20 off the bench. She answered that performance with a 14-point, 10-rebound, five-block outing against the Tide in Columbia three weeks later (Jan. 29) to power South Carolina to an 85-54 win.
SEC Title Talk
South Carolina joined elite company with its third-straight SEC regular-season title, which the Gamecocks claimed out-right with their win over Georgia (Feb. 18). South Carolina became just the third program to win three straight titles, joining Tennessee (2000-2004 and 1993-1995) and Auburn (1987-89).
With a perfect 13-0 record so far this season, the Gamecocks have won 42 of their last 45 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.
Strength in Numbers
Based on cumulative opponent winning percentage, South Carolina currently has the 18th toughest schedule in the nation. The 26 teams the Gamecocks will face this season have a current winning percentage of .607. The SEC and Pac-12 dominate the top 30 schedules with six seven entries, respectively. With 12 games away from Columbia so far this season, the Gamecocks are second in the RPI — best in the SEC with Kentucky (14), Texas A&M (15), Tennessee (19), Florida (20) and Georgia (25) are also among the top 25. Mississippi State (33) and Missouri (35) are in the top 50.
Led by arguably among the best frontcourts in the nation, South Carolina leads the country in free throw attempts (635) and is fourth in free throws made (418). The Gamecocks attempt 24.4 free throws per game on the season, including 26.0 per SEC contest. South Carolina is shooting 65.4 percent from the free throw line — a number that has been on the rise recently after hitting 68.3 percent in the last five games. Two Gamecocks rank among the SEC’s top percentage free throw shooter in league play — Tiffany Mitchell (3rd, .831) and A’ja Wilson (9th, .716) — who also lead the team in free throw attempts in league play with Wilson at 81 and Mitchell at 65. This season, South Carolina has outscored its opponent on the free throw line 21 times, including 11 SEC games. The Gamecocks have made at least 20 free throws seven times this season — 23 vs. #6/10 Ohio State (Nov. 13), 21 vs. East Carolina (Dec. 20), 32 vs. #20/- Missouri (Jan. 10), 20 at #10/10 Texas A&M (Jan. 31), 24 vs. #18/18 Kentucky (Feb. 4), 22 vs. #16/19 Florida, 22 at #24/- Tennessee.