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Jan. 3, 2018

#4/5 South Carolina at Ole Miss

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 4/5 South Carolina faces its first SEC road test of the season Thursday night, traveling to Ole Miss for a 7 p.m. (ET) tipoff on SEC Network+. The Gamecocks are 12-1 on the season after winning their SEC opener for the fifth-straight season. The 10-4 Rebels are coming off a narrow loss at Arkansas to kick off league play over the weekend.

South Carolina Notables

Staley has built the Gamecocks’ success not on an offensive system but on a formula of playing inside-out that delivers based on efficiency. This season has continued the trend of higher scoring offenses under Staley as the Gamecocks average 83.2 points per game (19th in the nation) on 50.4 field goal shooting (6th in the nation) and score 1.15 points per possession. South Carolina’s numbers in each of those three categories have increased in each of the last four seasons.
Senior forward A’ja Wilson continues to make her claim for national player of the year honors this season as the only player in the nation to rank among the top 40 in scoring (24.5 ppg, 3rd), rebounding (11.2 rpg, 16th) and blocked shots (3.2 bpg, 8th).
Junior guard Doniyah Cliney has embraced Staley’s motto of “trust the process” throughout her career, and is reaping the rewards as a starter this season, averaging 8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists, including Sunday’s career-high 16 points, included six in the decisive fourth quarter.

By the Numbers

1 Double-double needed by A’ja Wilson to move into a tie for fifth place in program history in career double-doubles

4 Gamecocks averaging double-figure points this season ââ’¬” Wilson (24.5), Spann (12.3), Jennings (11.9), Harris (10.2)

6 Points of Doniyah Cliney‘s career-high 16 against #22/21 Texas A&M that came in the crucial fourth quarter

5 Consecutive games in which sophomore guard Tyasha Harris has handed out at least five assists, including two games of 10 or more

7 Consecutive games in which sophomore guard Tyasha Harris has handed out at least five assists, during which she has a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio

21 Points needed by A’ja Wilson to tie Brantley Southers for third place in program history in career scoring

The Ole Miss Series

South Carolina leads the series against Ole Miss 21-17 behind nine straight wins and an 11-2 mark in the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks two losses since the 2008-09 season were by a combined two points. The Gamecocks are 5-0 against Ole Miss in Oxford in the Staley era, winning by an average of 13.6 points. The last three victories over the Rebels have come by double digits, including a 66-45 decision in the last meeting at The Pavilion on Feb. 25, 2016.

Staying Power

In this week’s RPI summary, South Carolina is 10th in the nation. The Gamecocks are just behind Mississippi State in RPI among SEC programs, and the league has the highest RPI in the nation. South Carolina’s two wins against top-25 RPI teams is tied with Mississippi State and Missouri for the league lead.

Tough Road Ahead

South Carolina’s 2017-18 schedule includes 11 games against teams either ranked in this week’s AP and/or USA Today Coaches Poll or ranked at the time of their game. So far, the Gamecocks are 2-1 in those games ââ’¬” topping then-#15/13 Maryland and then-#14/16 Duke while falling to then-#6/6 Notre Dame. While not ranked at the time of its game against the Gamecocks, Rutgers is ranked #25 in this week’s USA Today Coaches Poll. Only one non-conference game remains against a currently ranked opponent ââ’¬” #1/1 Connecticut on Feb. 1. Including the Gamecocks at #4/5, the SEC boasts five teams in this week’s rankings ââ’¬” Mississippi State (5/3), Tennessee (7/7), Missouri (15/15), and Texas A&M (19/19). South Carolina play Tennessee and Missouri twice this season.

Location, Location, Location

The Gamecock frontcourt simply reloaded this season, and South Carolina averages 44.0 points in the paint this season, making up 52.9 percent of its offense. In fact, 69.8 percent of the team’s made field goals this season have come in the paint. The Gamecocks are out-pacing their opponents in that space by 20.9 points per game, and their interior advantage has been at least 20 points five times, including twice with a season-high 48 ââ’¬” against Alabama State (Nov. 10) and Western Carolina (Nov. 30). Only one opponent has out-scored South Carolina in the paint this season ââ’¬” #6/6 Notre Dame (Nov. 26) 58-42 ââ’¬” which is also the Gamecocks’ lone loss this season.