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March 3, 2016

Game Information

Date: Thu., March 4, 2016


Location: Jacksonville, Fla.

Arena: Veterans Memorial Arena

Tickets: $18 Reserved, $12 General Admission

Broadcast:SEC Network (Cara Capuano, play-by-play; Gail Goestenkors, analyst)

Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller);; Sirius 145 / XM 190 / SXM Online 963

COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 3/2 South Carolina opens SEC Tournament action on Fri., March 4, against the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 8 seed Missouri and No. 9 seed Auburn. The Gamecocks completed just the second 16-0 regular-season SEC record in league history and have eyes on becoming just the fourth team to go undefeated in the regular season and win the SEC Tournament title. They will do so behind three All-SEC First Team selections, including SEC Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, who claimed the title from senior guard Tiffany Mitchell, who held it the last two seasons. Junior center Alaina Coates and her double-double averages will impact the team’s success as well.


  • South Carolina is 11-23 all-time in the SEC Tournament with three trips to the semifinals (2012, 2014, 2015) with one tournament title (2015).
  • The Gamecocks’ outside game has been explosive at times and minimal at others. South Carolina’s 3-point prowess book-ended the SEC schedule, though, with the Gamecocks opening league play with a Staley-era record 11 3s against Arkansas, shooting a season-best 47.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Gamecocks followed that performance with 10-of-22 3-point shooting at Vanderbilt. In the finale against LSU, South Carolina hit 10-of-21 from 3-point range. South Carolina led the SEC, hitting 33.7 percent from beyond the arc in league play.
  • South Carolina leads the nation in free throw attempts and is fourth in free throws made. The Gamecocks attempt 24.4 per game, making 66.6 percent of them. They have out-scored their opponent at the free throw line 24 times, including 14 SEC games, and have made more free throws than their opponents have taken on the season (471-428).
  • The Gamecocks’ 16-0 SEC record was just the second in conference history, continuing the trend of head coach Dawn Staley increasing her league win total each of the last seven seasons. The move earned her a third-consecutive SEC Coach of the Year award — the first time any coach has won three straight in league history.
  • A’ja Wilson shrugged off any notion of a sophomore slump to become the second player in league history to earn SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Her school-record 85 blocks secured the latter, while her top-five ranking in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and double-doubles ensured the former.
  • First-Team All-SEC guard Tiffany Mitchell has delivered for the Gamecocks throughout the season, but her numbers over the last three games have looked more like the All-America performances of the last two seasons. In the final three regular-season games, Mitchell poured in 15.3 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range (7-of-16), while handing out 2.3 assists and swiping 2.3 steals per game. She closed the regular season with 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-8 3-pointers, against LSU to move into fifth place in the Gamecocks’ all-time scoring list — the first new entry in the top five since Jocelyn Penn in 2003.
  • Junior center Alaina Coates picked up First-Team All-SEC honors behind a league-best 15 double-doubles this season to rank 14th in the nation, including a school-record 10 in SEC play. She is the only league player to average a double-double either overall or in conference play.

By the Numbers

2 Players in SEC history to earn Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season — A’ja Wilson 2016, Sylvia Fowles (LSU), 2008
3 SEC games in which South Carolina made double-digit 3-pointers — vs. Arkansas, at Vanderbilt, vs. LSU
10 Games in which an SEC opponent scored less than 60 points against the Gamecocks
21 Games that South Carolina has won by double digits, including 10 by 20 or more points

Missouri Series Notes

The Gamecocks lead the series 4-1, including a 3-1 record since the Tigers joined the SEC for the 2012-13 season. After suffering a loss in the first league game between to the two teams (65-58 at Mizzou on Feb. 28, 2013), the Gamecocks have claimed the last three contests by an average of 17.3 points, including this season’s 25-point victory at Colonial Life Arena (Jan. 10) — the first in which both teams were nationally ranked. This season’s meeting was dominated by the Gamecock defense, which held the Tigers to just five points and 11.1 percent shooting in the first quarter. South Carolina carried a 35-17 lead into the locker room at halftime and never looked back. The Gamecocks harassed the Tigers into committing 20 turnovers and 34 fouls, and South Carolina added 17 points off turnovers and 32 points from the free throw line in the win. Mizzou’s top scorer, Sophie Cunningham, found it difficult to get around the defense of senior guar dTiffany Mitchell throughout the game, netting just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range. Following her 19-point outing against the Tigers this season, Mitchell leads the Gamecocks with a career scoring average of 16.3 points in four games against Missouri, shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 6-of-15 from 3-point range. In the last three meetings, that scoring average jumps to 19.3. Alaina Coates’ double-double earlier this season puts her at 13.7 point and 8.0 rebounds per game against Mizzou, and Khadijah Sessions also nets double-figure points against the Tigers, averaging 10.8 on 40.0 percent shooting.

Auburn Series Notes

The Tigers leads the series 21-19, but the Gamecocks are 7-3 against them in the Dawn Staley era, including wins in the last four meetings. Many of those 10 games have been close, though, with six of them decided by single digits, including four of the last five at Auburn. South Carolina has long struggled on the road against the Tigers, going just 3-2 in Auburn, but the tie-breaking win came earlier this season when a defensive effort that allowed just five points in the second quarter set up a 74-58 win on Jan. 21. After trailing 15-13 after the opening 10 minutes, South Carolina out-scored Auburn 20-5 in the second quarter behind 50.0 percent shooting and just 2-of-16 accuracy from the Tigers. The Gamecocks’ diversity of offensive weapons was on full display in the period with seven of the eight who played scoring, lead by Tina Roy’s two 3-pointers. In the most recent meeting between the teams, South Carolina posted a 77-58 victory at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 2, 2015, as five Gamecocks scored in double figures to offset 26 points from Hasina Muhammad. First-half defense set the tone as the Tigers scored just 17 points in the period.

Gamecocks’ SEC Tournament History

The Gamecocks enter their 25th SEC Tournament this week, toting the No. 1 seed for third-straight season. South Carolina is 11-23 all-time at the event after three wins delivered the program’s first SEC Tournament title in 2015. In the last four seasons, the Gamecocks have reached the semifinals three times, including last season’s championship game debut. This week, the Gamecocks will attempt to join Tennessee (1999-2000 and 2010-11) and Georgia (1983-84) as the only programs to win both the regular-season and tournament titles in back-to-back seasons. South Carolina could also join those two programs as the only to go undefeated in the SEC regular season and win the SEC Tournament — Georgia in 1986 (9-0 season, 3-0 tournament), Tennessee in 1994 (11-0 season, 3-0 tournament) and in 2011 (16-0 season, 3-0 tournament).

Basketball and Books

Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team this week, becoming the first Gamecock to be named to one of the teams since Martha Parker (third team) in 1989. Mitchell was the only SEC player to make one of the three teams and is also a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award for displaying excellence in community, classroom, character and competition. The Gamecocks have had a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection in each of the last three seasons and in four of head coach Dawn Staley’s eight seasons at South Carolina.

Putting Teams Away

While the Gamecocks have gotten a lot of attention for the 12 tight games they have delivered to the win column, they have also posted 21 double-digit wins, including 10 by 20 or more points this season. In SEC action, 12 of South Carolina’s program-record 16 wins came by double digits with five decided by 20 or more points. Winning SEC games by an average of 16.6 points, South Carolina’s scoring margin in league play is the second-highest in program history. Overall, the Gamecocks have a +17.9 scoring margin this season, which would rank third in program history. The 2014-15 teams owns both the SEC and overall school records for scoring margin at 19.6 and 21.7, respectively.