Top-15 Matchup Set for Tuesday at Colonial Life Arena
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina hosts a top-15 showdown Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena when No. 15/21 UCLA visits for a 7 p.m. tipoff on SEC Network. Fans can also visit an exhibit created by students in the University’s College of Education celebrating the first female student-athletes as part of the year-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the passage of Title IX. The exhibit will be open from 6 p.m. when doors open through the end of halftime, and several of those pioneering Gamecocks will be recognized during the game.
Tonight’s game pits two of the NCAA’s top rebounding teams against each other. South Carolina is second in the nation in rebounds per game (51.5) and rebounding margin (+23.2), and the Gamecocks come in eighth in offensive rebounds per game (17.3). UCLA is 19th in rebounds per game (45.6), 25th in rebounding margin (+11.1) and 23rd in offensive boards per game (16.1).
In a pair of wins over ranked opponents this season, South Carolina has yielded just 63.5 points per game and out-rebounded its opponents by 8.5.
South Carolina’s depth has shown up throughout the season so far, including in big moments. In a pair of games against ranked opponents, the Gamecock bench has scored 34.0 points per game – 43.3 percent of the total offense. The group has shown up on the glass as well with 24.5 of the team’s 48.0 rebounds per game in those outings.
Reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston leads all active NCAA players in all divisions in career double-doubles (64) and total rebounds (1,186). She is eight double-doubles away from the Gamecock career record, which as stood since 1982.
Senior Zia Cooke continues to thrive in big games, leading the Gamecocks with 15.5 points per game against ranked opponents this season. In her career, she has averaged 13.8 points against ranked teams.
Senior guard Brea Beal has an impact on both ends of the floor this season, leading the team in blocked shots (2.0) and ranking second in assists (2.7) and fourth in rebounding (5.3).
The versatility of Laeticia Amihere can not be overstated as the 6-foot-4 senior has a pair of double-digit scoring games, two games of three assists, three with at least two blocked shots and is shooting 58.8 percent from the field.
By the Numbers
3 – South Carolina leads the nation in three categories – scoring defense (43.8), field goal percentage defense (.264) and blocked shots (9.5).
31 – Of Aliyah Boston’s 64 career double-doubles, 31 have come against ranked opponents, including both games this season.
31.2 – With her scoring (15.5) and points off her assists (9.0), Zia Cooke has had her hands on 31.2 percent of the team’s offense vs. ranked teams.
The UCLA Series
The Gamecocks have a 2-1 overall record and have won both meetings in the modern history of the series – one in Columbia and one in Los Angeles. All three games of the series have been decided by single digits.
In the Bruins’ last visit to Colonial Life Arena, the then-No. 6 Gamecocks claimed the top-10 battle with a 66-57 decision on Dec .18, 2016, with UCLA ranked ninth in the country. The season before that, then-No. 2 South Carolina eked out a 68-65 victory in Los Angeles on Nov. 22, 2015.
Against ranked teams, South Carolina is 101-66 (.605) 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 86-27 (.761) against ranked teams, including a 38-6 mark since the start of the 2019-20 season.
Senior Aliyah Boston has thrived in her 44 career games against ranked opponents, averaging 15.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while shooting 53.5 percent. Senior Zia Cooke’s offense is not far behind with her 13.8 points per game in those 44 outings.
So far this season, South Carolina is 2-0 against ranked opponents.
South Carolina’s depth has been a hot topic this season, and it has not disappointed.
The Gamecock bench has been especially productive offensively, averaging 44.0 points to account for 52.1 percent of the Gamecocks’ total offense. By comparison, last season’s bench netted just 21.1 points per game for 29.8 percent of the offense.
The bench offensive production has come in key games with this season’s group averaging 34.0 points per game against ranked opponents (43.3 percent).
On the boards, two of the top three rebounders this season come off the bench in Kamilla Cardoso (6.8) and Ashlyn Watkins (5.5). The bench has grabbed 49.8 percent of the total rebounds so far this season.