Women's Hoops at Kentucky Thursday
#1/1 SOUTH CAROLINA (21-1, 9-1) AT KENTUCKY (9-10, 2-7)
FEBRUARY 10, 2022 | 7 P.M. ET | LEXINGTON, KY. | MEMORIAL COLISEUM
- South Carolina continues to thrive on the defensive end. In SEC play, the Gamecocks have held their nine of their 10 opponents below their league scoring average. Seven of those teams have been held to 10 or more points below their average, including then-No. 13 LSU (-14.2) and then-No. 24 Ole Miss (-26.4). The Gamecocks lead the SEC in scoring defense (52.0 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.318).
- The Gamecocks’ glass work has been dominant throughout the season, leading the nation in rebounding margin at +18.0. That number jumps to 19.4 in SEC play as South Carolina pulls in 45.1 percent of its own missed shots and 75.6 percent of its opponents’ misses in league play.
- The rebounding effort comes from the full team as only Aliyah Boston (11.8, 9th) is among the top 20 rebounders in the SEC this season. Fellow starters Brea Beal (5.3) and Victaria Saxton (5.0) join center Kamilla Cardoso (5.4) in leading the team effort.
- Observers have touted the Gamecocks’ depth since the start of the season, with good reason as Dawn Staley has a pair of No. 1 ranked signing classes on her roster. Recently, that depth has rounded into form with the bench scoring 41.5 percent of the team’s 74.8 points per game over the last four outings.
- National Player of the Year candidate Aliyah Boston is consistent a producer on both ends of the floor. Her 16 double-doubles have all come in the last 17 games. She is 22nd in the nation in field goal percentage, doing a majority of her work inside, shooting 64.6 percent inside of six feet, but also hitting 36.6 percent from midrange and 31.4 percent from three point range. Her 3.0 blocks per game are sixth-best in the nation, and her 11.8 rebounds are ninth. And those measurements still fail to capture her dominant presence, competitive fire and leadership shaping the Gamecocks’ success.
BY THE NUMBERS
6 – The Gamecocks lead the nation in six different statistical categories – four on the defense end.
38.5 – South Carolina opponents are shooting just 38.5 percent from 0-6 feet from the basket.
48.0 – The Gamecocks have shot 48.0 percent from the field over the last five games.
The Kentucky Series
After winning 14 of the last 15 meetings, South Carolina leads the all-time series against Kentucky 36-34. In the Dawn Staley era, the Gamecocks are 20-10 against the Wildcats.
The Gamecocks swept the series each of the last two seasons – winning at home by 20+ points and on the road by single digits.
South Carolina won this season’s initial meeting on Jan. 9 at Colonial Life Arena 74-54, turning in commanding defensive performances in the second and third quarters. (Full box score on page 17)
In the Gamecocks’ last trip to Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 10, 2021, South Carolina overcame a halftime deficit with a 25-15 third quarter to escape with a 75-70 victory. In the second-half rally, the Gamecocks shot 50.0 percent from the field a dominated the glass 27-14.
The Gamecocks are 282-260 all-time in road games, including a 107-46 mark under head coach Dawn Staley. Her .699 winning percentage on the road is the best in program history.
In SEC road games, Gamecocks are 74-33 (.692) during Staley’s tenure.
South Carolina has been a regular contender for SEC regular-season championships since claiming its first one in 2013-14. In the last eight seasons, the Gamecocks have won the league five times – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020 – and finished second in the other three seasons. They were picked by the league’s coaches to add another title this season.
The Gamecocks are the only program with two 16-0 SEC seasons – 2016, 2020.
After struggling through its first 17 seasons in the powerful league, South Carolina turned a corner with the arrival of Dawn Staley. Under her tutelage, the Gamecocks are 161-55 (.745) in league play with the 161 wins accounting for 71.6 percent of the program’s 225 all-time SEC victories.
Junior guard Brea Beal personifies the Gamecock defense – gritty, physical and unrelenting. A mainstay in Dawn Staley’s starting lineup, the 6-foot-1 Beal regularly takes on an opponent’s toughest scorer and delivers on shutting her down.
Beal has allowed her primary defensive assignment to reach her scoring average just five times this season, and she has held her guard at least 40 percent below her average eight times, including UConn’s Christyn Williams (10 pts vs. SC), Maryland’s Chloe Bibby (2 pts vs. SC) and Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard (9 pts vs. SC).