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Jan. 31, 2018

#7/6 South Carolina vs #1/1 UConn

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 7/6 South Carolina closes out a three-game homestand against No. 1/1 UConn Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. with the game broadcast on ESPN.


Parking in Lots A and B will be pass only, however, public handicap parking in those lots will be $10. Additional private and city lot parking is also $10. Shuttles from the Pendleton and Park Street garages will begin two hours prior to tip-off, and will be $3 roundtrip. Additional parking will be available at the Founders Park baseball parking lot at the corner of Blossom and Williams Streets. Parking and shuttle for that location will be free for those with a women’s basketball season parking pass or a valid University of South Carolina student or faculty/staff ID. Parking in that location for all other will be $5, including a free shuttle to the arena. Shuttles from both parking locations begin at 5 p.m. and run through one hour after the game.

South Carolina Notables

South Carolina is in its 44th season of women’s basketball and its 10th under the tutelage of head coach Dawn Staley. The reigning national champion Gamecocks have won four straight SEC regular-season titles, three consecutive SEC Tournament crowns and played in five of the last six NCAA Sweet 16s.

The Gamecocks have faced the nation’s No. 1 team 14 times in program history, including four times during the Dawn Staley era. South Carolina has yet to win vs. the No. 1 team in the nation, and the closest margin of defeat was a 53-49 loss to then-No. 1 Stanford at Colonial Life Arena on Dec. 19, 2012.

Senior forward A’ja Wilson has been considered among the best players in the nation for the last two seasons, and the 6-foot-5 All-American has taken the next step in her development this season, expanding her shooting range and confirming her ability to handle the ball the full length of the court. Her usual benchmark numbers ââ’¬” 23.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game ââ’¬” rank among the top 15 in the nation, making her the only player in the country to hold that high a position in all three. She is shooting 50.0 percent from 3-point range (5-of-10), hands out 1.7 assists per game and picking up 1.1 steals per game.

The floor general of the uber-efficient Gamecock offense ââ’¬” ranked sixth in the nation in field goal percentage ââ’¬” is sophomore Tyasha Harris. Challenged by her head coach to find more balance in her game to keep defenders honest, she has six double-doubles, including three in SEC action. She is 10th in the nation with 6.7 assists per game ââ’¬” 7.1 per SEC game ââ’¬” and averages 11.6 points on the season.

Junior forward Alexis Jennings has been the interior anchor the Gamecocks thought they lost with the graduation of Alaina Coates last season. The 6-foot-2 Jennings is fourth in the nation with a .641 field goal percentage and is among the SEC’s top 25 in scoring (13.0) and rebounding (7.5). In the last five games, she has put up 17.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, shooting 74.4 percent from the field.

By the Numbers

1 Game this season in which South Carolina has shot less than 40.0 percent from the field ââ’¬” vs. #11/11 Missouri (Jan. 28) ââ’¬” compared to just six games its opponent shot over that threshold

3 Combined national ranking of the Gamecocks’ next two opponents

5 Games this season in which A’ja Wilson has recorded at least 15 points and 15 rebounds

10 Games this season in which at least one Gamecock has been out with an injury, including five SEC contests

32.3 Minutes per game played by Tyasha Harris this season, the first Gamecock to average over 30 minutes since Tiffany Mitchell (30.5) in 2015-16

UConn Series Notes

The Huskies have won all five games of the series with the Gamecocks narrowing the gap each season since the home-and-home series was renewed. Two of the last three games have seen the teams square off as the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the nation, including the Gamecocks toting the nation’s top spot in the 2015 meeting at Gampel Pavilion. In last season’s matchup, the Huskies used a poor-shooting third quarter to double their six-point halftime lead, narrowly edging the Gamecocks in points in the paint, 34-26. South Carolina senior forward has faced the Huskies each season of her Gamecock career, scoring in double figures in each of the previous three games, including last season’s 17-point outing in Storrs. She averages 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game and shoots 50.0 percent from the field against the Huskies.

Ranked Readings

With a 4-3 mark this season, South Carolina is 54-48 against nationally ranked opponents under head coach Dawn Staley, although that record is skewed by the early seasons of her tenure as the Gamecocks are 39-9 versus ranked foes since the start of the 2014-15 campaign. South Carolina is 17-6 against top-10 opponents during that time. Senior forward A’ja Wilson leads the Gamecocks against ranked foes, averaging 22.0 points and 11.3 rebounds. Sophomore Tyasha Harris’ offense has been especially potent against the nation’s best teams as she is second on the team with 15.3 points to game while still averaging 6.3 assists. Both of her 20-point games have come against ranked teams, including her season-high 28 against #6/6 Tennessee (Jan. 14).

Missing Persons Report

Beginning the season with a roster that returned just two starters and two other significant contributors to last season’s national championship, South Carolina has played through a series of injuries to some of its primary players. At least one Gamecock has been out of the lineup with injury in 10 of the South Carolina’s 21 games this season. Leading scorer A’ja Wilson accounts for two of those 10 games with her ankle injury, and primary outside shooter Lindsey Spann has missed a combined eight games so far with separate knee injuries. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan missed three games earlier this month with a bone bruise.

They’re Free, Take Two!

Built around an inside presence for the last three seasons, South Carolina retains its annual spot among the top teams in free throws made and attempted this season. The Gamecocks are fifth in the nation in free throw attempts (486) and 13th in free throws made (328). The Gamecocks have attempted 25 or more free throws nine times this season, including a season-high 33 at #15/13 Maryland (Nov. 13) Senior forward A’ja Wilson leads the Gamecocks’ parade to the charity stripe, ranking 11th in the nation in free throw attempts (154) and 20th in free throws made (106).