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March 19, 2016

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Game Information

Date: Sun., March 20, 2016

Tipoff: 7 p.m.; Doors open 5:30 p.m.

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Arena: Colonial Life Arena

Tickets: Single-Session Sunday – $12

Broadcast: ESPN (Beth Mowins, play-by-play; Stephanie White, analyst)

Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller)

Live Stats:

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 3/2 South Carolina hosts Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament second round on Sun., March 20, at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks (32-1, 16-0 SEC) are eying a spot in their third-straight NCAA Sweet 16 and the fourth in the last five seasons.

GAME NOTABLES

  • South Carolina advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round for the fifth-straight season and the 10th time overall. The Gamecocks have won four of their last five first-round games by at least 20 points,
  • Tonight’s game pits two of the nation’s top 30 field goal percentage shooters against each other in Kansas State’s Breanna Lewis (.544) and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson (.537).
  • South Carolina’s defense is among the stingiest in the nation, especially lately. Allowing over 65 points just five times this season, the Gamecocks have not seen an opponent hit that mark since Florida netted 71 points on Feb. 11. In the nine games since then, just one opponent has even reached the 60-point plateau — Kentucky, 63 points, March 5. Four of those nine teams shot under 30.0 percent from the field, including Jacksonville’s 28.0 percent in Friday’s NCAA first-round game, which is tied for the lowest ever by a Gamecock NCAA Tournament opponent. The Dolphin’s 41 points were also an opponent low for South Carolina in the tournament.
  • The Gamecocks have been especially active in passing lanes recently, swiping double-digit steals in four of the last five games to average 10.8 over the stretch, picking up 10 or more steals just 10 times in the previous 28 outings.
  • South Carolina’s offense, which has scored 78.7 points per game over the last three games, has also become more diversified over the stretch with sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas joining the usual trio of double-digit scorers, averaging 10.0 points in those games. Senior guard Khadijah Sessions is just outside that mark, netting 9.7 points per game over the last three outings, during which she is shot 50.0 percent from the field, including 3-of-5 (.600) from 3-point range. Senior Asia Dozier has been the primary facilitator during that span, averaging 4.3 assists per game over the last three games.
  • Junior center Alaina Coates recorded her fourth double-double in nine career NCAA Tournament games on Friday with 22 points and 10 rebounds against Jacksonville, her 18th double-double of the season. She needs just one more to move into the Gamecocks’ all-time single-season top five, a list that has not been cracked since Sheila Foster posted 19 in 1981-82. The program record is 25, set by Katrina Anderson in 1977-78.
  • Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell, one of two Gamecocks named among the four Naismith Trophy finalists this week, has been on a tear down the stretch in her final campaign in the Garnet and Black. The three-time All-American averaged 17.7 points on 47.6 percent shooting over the last three games, including 42.1 percent from 3-point range. She has been the Gamecocks’ top scorer in three of the last five games, during which she has also handed out a team-high 16 assists.
  • Like Mitchell, sophomore forward A’ja Wilson is among the four Naismith Trophy finalists announced this week, and she has similarly lifted her production in recent games, averaging 17.3 points and a team-high 10 rebounds over the last three outings.

By the Numbers

2 Steals needed by Tiffany Mitchell to move into the program’s top five in career steals
7 Points needed by forward A’ja Wilson to reach 1,000 in her career, leaving her the chance to become just the second Gamecock to reach the milestone in her sophomore season
16.2 Points in the paint more per game scored by the Gamecocks than their opponents
21 Games this season in which South Carolina has allowed fewer than 60 points this season, including nine yielding fewer than 50 points

Kansas State Series Notes

South Carolina has played Kansas State twice before in program history but not since the early 1980s. The teams split those meetings with the Wildcats recording a win after the Gamecocks were forced to forfeit the outcome of the Dec. 20, 1980, contest. The next season, South Carolina logged an 81-65 win over Kansas State on Nov. 29, 1981. This season, K-State is 18-12 on the season, finishing sixth in the Big 12 with an 8-10 league record.

Rising Rebounder

Junior center Alaina Coates moved into fourth place on South Carolina’s all-time rebounding list with her 10 against Jacksonville (Mar. 18), becoming just fifth Gamecock to amass 900 rebounds in her career. She is just the second to reach the mark before her senior season. Her 904 career boards includes a school-record 627 on the defensive end, while her 277 career offensive rebounds are sixth in program history. Coates already holds the program’s record for career rebounds in SEC play (433).

Location, Location, Location

South Carolina averages 37.8 points in the paint this season, making up 51.3 percent of the Gamecocks’ offense. Only one opponent has out-scored South Carolina in the paint this season — Auburn (Mar. 4) — (Vanderbilt and UConn tied), and the Gamecocks have out-paced their opponents in that space by 16.2 points per game. In 14 games against ranked opponents this season, South Carolina has out-scored its foes in the paint by 13.6 points per game. The Gamecocks also averaged 13.6 points in the paint per game more than their SEC opponents. South Carolina’s interior advantage has been at least 20 points in 13 games, including four against ranked teams — #6/10 Ohio State (32), #16/18 Arizona State (26), #15/10 Texas A&M (20), #16/16 Mississippi State (22). The season-high advantage of 34 points has happened twice — against Arkansas (Jan. 3) and UNCG (Nov. 15).

Senior Moments

South Carolina’s four four-year seniors — Asia Dozier, Tiffany Mitchell, Tina Roy, Khadijah Sessions — have posted the best four-year record in program history, amassing 120 wins and a .876 winning percentage (120-17), both of which are program records. They have played in the NCAA Tournament every year of their careers, won three SEC regular-season championships and two SEC Tournament titles — the first of either in school history. Under their leadership, South Carolina won 45 of its last 48 SEC regular-season games, beginning with the 2014 league opener, and is currently riding a 22-game win streak against SEC foes, dating back to the start of the 2015 SEC Tournament. This season, the most veteran Gamecocks stepped up, especially in SEC action, during which the quartet averaged 31.8 points to make up 44.4 percent of the team’s SEC-best 71.7 points per league game. Prior to the start of league play, the group netted 36.5 percent of South Carolina’s offense.

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