Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

March 1, 2017

Game Information

Date: Fri., Mar 3, 2017

Tipoff: Noon (ET)

Location: Greenville, S.C.

Arena: Bon Secours Wellness Arena

Tickets: $8-20

Watch On: SEC Network (Courtney Lyle, play-by-play; Tamika Catchings, analyst; Steffi Sorensen, sideline)

Broadcast: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Top-seeded South Carolina opens play at the SEC Tournament on Fri., March 3, at noon against the winner of the Thursday game between Georgia and Auburn, the eight and nine seeds, respectively. The No. 5/5 Gamecocks (24-4, 14-2 SEC) claimed their fourth-straight SEC regular-season title and aim to repeat as tournament champs for the third-consecutive season.

South Carolina Notables

  • South Carolina enters the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed for the fourth-straight season and the two-time reigning tournament champion. The Gamecocks were a semifinalist in 2014.
  • The Gamecocks are 11-6 in SEC Tournament action in the Dawn Staley era (2009-present) and just two current Gamecocks have ever experienced a loss at the event ââ’¬” seniors Alaina Coates and Tiffany Davis. South Carolina has not won an SEC Tournament game in Greenville, S.C., before, falling in the opening round when the city last hosted the event in 2005.
  • The SEC coaches continued to recognize the Gamecocks’ frontcourt of Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson among the best in the league, bestowing All-SEC First Team and All-Defensive Team honors on both. The group also named Wilson the league player of the year and guard Tyasha Harris to the All-Freshman team.
  • South Carolina sprinted to the finish line of the SEC regular season, shaking off a narrow loss at Missouri that seemed to derail its goal of a fourth-straight title. Bouncing back as they had all season after a loss, the Gamecocks won their next two games by an average of 12.0 points, shooting a sterling 55.6 percent from the field. Averaging 87.5 points per game in those wins, six Gamecocks averaged in double figures and South Carolina assisted on 52.3 percent of its made field goals in the outings.
  • Two-time SEC Player of the Year and national player of the year candidate A’ja Wilson has shined brightest down the stretch for South Carolina. With a career-best 10 20-point games this season, she has reached the plateau in each of the last three outings, shooting 70.0 percent from the field, while also lifting her rebounding numbers to 11.3 per game over the last three outings, which include two of her eight double-doubles on the season.
  • Senior center Alaina Coates became the first Gamecock to capture All-SEC honors every year of her career. She is the second-leading rebounder in program history and ranks second in career double-doubles as well. This season she averages a double-double overall, in SEC play and against ranked opponents.
  • Junior guard Allisha Gray has made a huge impact on the Gamecocks’ success this season with her willingness and ability to fill in at any role ââ’¬” battling for tough rebounds, finding open teammates, hitting timely shots and locking down defensively. In SEC action, she leads the team in steals (1.5 spg), is second on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg) and assists (2.5 apg) and ranks third in rebounds (4.7 rpg).

By the Numbers

2 SEC programs that have won four straight regular-season titles ââ’¬” South Carolina, Tennessee
4 Consecutive SEC Player of the Year honors picked up by a Gamecock after A’ja Wilson collected the award for the second-straight season this week
4.3 Assists per game by Tyasha Harris over the last three games with a 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio during the stretch
5 SEC regular-season games the Gamecocks have lost in the last four seasons combined
6 Players on nationally ranked teams who average a double-double this season, including Alaina Coates (13.4 ppg/11.1 rpg)
10 20-point scoring games for A’ja Wilson this season, her career high, including the last three
11.0 Points per game by Kaela Davis over the last three games
11.3 Rebounds per game by junior A’ja Wilson over the last three games
15 Of her career 57 double-doubles that have come against ranked opponents, including five in eight games this season
51.2 Percent field goal shooting by the Gamecocks over the last three games
60.2 Percent of the all-time SEC wins by South Carolina (161) that have come in the nine seasons of the Dawn Staley era (97)

Georgia Series Notes

Georgia leads the series 33-13, but the Gamecocks have won the last six meetings and seven of the last eight border battles. In the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09), South Carolina leads the series 9-6 in what have been low-scoring affairs for both teams. Over the 15 games in the Staley era, which feature 12 outings in which at least one team was nationally ranked, neither team has scored more than 69 points in a game and four times neither has reached 60 points. During the current segment of the series, the Gamecocks average 55.7 points to the Lady Bulldogs’ 53.7 points.

In the defensive series, the Gamecocks’ 66-63 win on Jan. 12, at Colonial Life Arena produced the highest combined score since the inaugural matchup of the Dawn Staley era resulted in a 69-63 Lady Bulldog victory (Jan. 11, 2009). The return game this season saw Georgia-product Allisha Gray power home a 62-44 South Carolina victory (Jan. 26) with 11 fourth-quarter points on 5-of-5 shooting, allowing the Gamecocks to shed the pesky Lady Bulldogs, who trailed by 36-30 heading into the final period.

Auburn Series Notes

The Gamecocks took the series lead with a pair of wins over the Tigers this season, stretching their win streak over Auburn to seven games. South Carolina is 10-3 against the Tigers in the Dawn Staley era. Seven of the last 13 meetings have been decided by single digits, but this season’s wins came by an average of 22.5 points.

The Gamecocks claimed each game of this season’s series in different ways. In the opening matchup at Auburn, Kaela Davis’ long-range shooting made the Tigers pay for focusing on locking down South Carolina’s frontcourt. The Gamecocks’ defense imposed its will early, leading 29-6 by the end of the first period en route to the 73-47 victory (Jan. 5). In the return game at Colonial Life Arena, defense again drove play early and Alaina Coates scored six of South Carolina’s first 14 points. The Tigers managed just single-digit points in each of the first three quarters, and the Gamecock offense methodically stretched the lead from five points in the first quarter to 13 by halftime to 24 through three quarters, out-scoring Auburn 34-6 in the paint to close out the 60-41 win (Feb. 9).

Trust the Process

While South Carolina entered the season with lofty expectations based on its roster, head coach Dawn Staley knew that it would take time for her team to learn to play its best together. Through all the ups and downs, she encouraged them to trust the process of establishing their strengths and how they best suit the team.

The Gamecocks seem to be rounding into form just in time for postseason action, both individually and as a unit. The team’s field goal percentage jumped from .466 in 2016 to .476 in SEC play and has skyrocketed of the last three games to 51.2 percent.

Individually, junior forward A’ja Wilson lifted her scoring average from 16.4 points in 2016 to 18.2 in SEC action. In the last three games, she has poured in 23.0 points per game on 70.0 percent shooting. Similarly, freshman Tyasha Harris has come into her own in 2017, averaging 4.6 points, 2.2 assists and 20.1 minutes in 2016, she turned in 5.9 points, 3.8 assists and 28.3 minutes per SEC contest. In the last two games, her numbers grew to 10.0 points, 6.0 assists and 29.0 minutes per outing. Other Gamecock lifting their games down the stretch include Allisha Gray averaging 14.5 points and Kaela Davis at 13.5 ppg on 50.0 percent shooting and 6.0 rebounds per game over the last two outings.

Neutral Stance

The Gamecocks are 111-83 all-time on a neutral court, including a 47-43 mark in postseason contests. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 33-17 in games played at neutral sites, including a 17-12 slate in the postseason.

RPI Standing

The Gamecocks are currently third in the RPI behind UConn and Notre Dame, respectively. Their opponents have an average RPI of 78, which ranks fifth in the country and is second in the SEC behind Kentucky (1st, 69).

With a tough non-conference schedule, South Carolina faced 11 teams in this week’s RPI top 25 and four others in the top 50. The Gamecocks lead the SEC with seven wins against this week’s top-25 RPI teams.

Four other SEC teams are ranked in the RPI top 25 ââ’¬” Mississippi State (5), Kentucky (14), Tennessee (16) and Missouri (19). Texas A&M (26), LSU (35) and Auburn (37) round out the SEC teams in the top 50.

The SEC stands atop the nation with eight teams ranked among the RPI top 50 and matches the ACC’s 11 teams in the top 100. The league has an NCAA-leading 33 wins over RPI top-25 teams and another 34 over teams ranked 26-50 in the RPI.