Top-25 Road Test for Gamecocks at Georgia
#1/1 SOUTH CAROLINA (22-1, 10-1) AT #17/14 GEORGIA (17-6, 6-5)
FEBRUARY 13, 2022 | NOON ET | ATHENS, GA. | STEGEMAN COLISEUM
- Sunday’s game is the Gamecocks’ 10th against a ranked opponent this season, which leads the nation. South Carolina has recorded its nine ranked wins this season by an average of 13.0 points.
- South Carolina’s defensive effort begins around the rim. The Gamecocks lead the country with 8.5 blocks per game. That effort has helped hold opponents to just 38.9 percent shooting within six feet of the basket, which is markedly lower than the SEC average of 48.3 percent accuracy at that range.
- The Gamecocks’ bench has been increasing its production over the last five games, scoring at least one-third of the team’s points in four of those five outings. The group missed that mark at Kentucky (Feb. 10), which was understandable given the absence of its top two scorers in Laeticia Amihere and Kamilla Cardoso. Still, over the last five games, the bench has added 28.6 points per game to account for 39.0 percent of the team’s 71.6 points per game in that stretch.
- Junior forward Aliyah Boston continues to be on every national player of the year watch list as well as the watch lists for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and the Lisa Leslie Award. Her season averages go up against ranked opponents, against which she has posted 17.6 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game.
- Victaria Saxton’s 11 rebounds and five blocks at Kentucky (Feb. 10) included one of each in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter to turn back the Wildcats’ late rally. Over the last five games, Saxton has averaged 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.
- Fifth-year senior LeLe Grissett has found her form of late, averaging 5.8 points on 47.8 percent shooting over the last five games in addition to bringing her trademark energy to the Gamecock defense.
BY THE NUMBERS
13.6 – Aliyah Boston has averaged 13.6 rebounds over the last two games.
38.0 – The Gamecocks average 38.0 points in the paint per game – a number that rises to 38.9 in SEC games.
51.4 – South Carolina’s 51.4 points allowed per game ranks fifth in the nation. Against ranked foes, it has allowed 55.2 ppg.
The Georgia Series
The Lady Bulldogs lead the all-time series 21-33, but the Gamecocks have a 16-7 edge in the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09) with a 5-3 mark in Athens. South Carolina has won the last 14 matchups with three of those decided by single digits, including the most recent meeting.
The Gamecocks and Lady Bulldogs met in the 2021 SEC Tournament title game with South Carolina claiming the title with a 67-62 victory, holding of a fourth-quarter Georgia rally behind eight points from Aliyah Boston and six from Destanni Henderson in the final period.
Against ranked opponents, South Carolina is 94-66 in the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09), and even that mark is skewed by the early seasons of her tenure.
Since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, the Gamecocks are 79-27 against ranked teams, including a 31-6 mark since the start of the 2019-20 season.
This season, South Carolina’s nine wins over ranked opponents are more than any other team in the country and have come by an average of 13.0 points.
Junior Aliyah Boston leads the team against ranked opponents, averaging a double-double (17.6 pts/12.8 rebs) to go with 3.7 blocks per game. Zia Cooke has 13.9 points per game, and Destanni Henderson is also in double figures at 12.3.
V is for Vital
Often the most overlooked player in the Gamecocks’ star-studded starting lineup, senior forward Victaria Saxton is the one whose consistently sound execution and tireless effort allows her teammates to shine – and she doesn’t mind either part of that statement.
Staley refers to Saxton as high performance, low maintenance; and recently commented that she is the player the coaching staff wonders how they will replace next season.
Saxton’s 5.8 points, 5.3 rebounds (3.0 on the offensive end), 1.6 blocks and 1.3 assists per game don’t appear to be flashy numbers, but to see them is to appreciate their impact.