Gamecocks Host Aggies Thursday Night
#1/1 SOUTH CAROLINA (15-1, 3-1) VS. TEXAS A&M (10-5, 0-3)
JANUARY 13, 2022 | 7 P.M. ET | COLUMBIA, S.C. | COLONIAL LIFE ARENA (18,000)
- South Carolina’s paint production has been high all season and has moved into overdrive in SEC play. The Gamecocks have scored 39.0 points in the paint per game in league play this season, accounting for 54.0 percent of their total offense (72.3 ppg). The difference has been the guards who have scored 13.0 points in the paint per game in SEC games compared to 10.7 before league play began.
- The Gamecock defense got back in form over the last two games allowing a pair of top-25 foes just 57.0 points per game. Especially locked in against #21/20 Kentucky (Jan. 9), South Carolina allowed reigning SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard just nine points on 2-of-14 shooting. The Wildcats shot just 29.6 percent in the game.
- SEC and National Player of the Week Aliyah Boston is a force to be reckoned with her 10 double-doubles this season (3rd in the NCAA) coming in the last 11 games. Her current nine-game streak of double-doubles matches the school record, last achieved in 1978. Since the streak began, the national player of the year candidate has poured in 19.2 points per game on 60.0 percent shooting to go with 14.2 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game.
- The New Year has been a good reset for junior Zia Cooke, who shot 45.7 percent from the field to average 18.0 points over the three games in January, during which she has also handed out 2.7 assists per game.
- Senior forward Victaria Saxton has been critical to the Gamecocks’ last three wins, not just with timely plays but with her increased production. In those three games, she averaged 10.3 points on 68.4 percent shooting (13-of-19), 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Over the last five games, she’s reeled in 6.2 rebounds per game after entering the stretch at 4.2 for the season.
BY THE NUMBERS
8 – Eight of South Carolina’s 16 games this season have been against ranked opponents, including five against top-10 foes.
20 – Senior Destanni Henderson needs 20 points to reach 1,000 in her career.
35 – South Carolina’s all-time 35 weeks at No. 1 in the AP Poll are the sixth-most in the history of that poll.
The Texas A&M Series
South Carolina is 7-4 against Texas A&M since the Aggies joined the SEC ahead of the 2012-13 season. The Gamecocks won seven straight before Texas A&M claimed the most recent meeting – the 2020-21 season finale in College Station.
In that meeting on Feb. 28, 2021, the Aggie defense held the Gamecocks to just eight points in the third quarter. South Carolina rallied back in the fourth, but Texas A&M prevailed 65-57 to claim the 2021 SEC regular-season title.
South Carolina is 4-1 against Texas A&M in Colonial Life Arena. In the Aggies’ last trip to Columbia, the Gamecock frontcourt of Aliyah Boston (13 pts/12 rebs) and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (20 pts) dominated the offense in a 60-52 South Carolina victory on Mar. 1, 2020, to complete a perfect 16-0 SEC record.
Ready to Cooke
A prolific scorer from the minute she got to campus, Zia Cooke averages 13.9 points for her career. In 80 career games, she has hit double-digit points 62 times – 77.5 percent of her games – including 13 20-point outings.
The junior preseason All-American hit 1,000 career points on Dec. 12 but then hit a three-game shooting slump … one that appears to have ended with the close of 2021.
In the last three games, Cooke has scored 18.0 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting while also handing out 2.7 assists per game. She was the team’s top scorer against Mississippi State (18 pt) and #21/20 Kentucky (19 pts).
On the Gamecocks’ 16-woman roster, 11 were McDonald’s All-Americans in high school – Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston, Kamilla Cardoso, Zia Cooke, Sania Feagin, Bree Hall, Destanni Henderson, Raven Johnson, Destiny Littleton, Saniya Rivers and Eniya Russell.
At South Carolina, Staley has coached 18 McDonald’s All-Americans, including 14 who joined the Gamecocks as freshmen.