Top-Ranked Gamecocks Host Memphis Saturday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina continues its four-game homestand with a 3 p.m. tipoff against Memphis on Sat., Dec. 3, at Colonial Life Arena. It is the Gamecocks’ 2nd Annual Give Back Game in partnership with the USC Veterans Alumni Council. Veterans and ROTC members will be collecting canned goods outside the arena to donate to Harvest Hope Food Bank to help area veterans and families in need at the holidays.
- South Carolina’s bench is outscoring its starters this season, averaging 41.6 points per game to account for 50.2 percent of the team’s total offense. Against ranked opponents, the starting lineup edges in front, but the bench still averages 31.7 points (41.3%) in those games. The bench is also out-pacing the starters in rebounding on the season – 24.2 to 22.1 per game.
- The Gamecock defense continues to dominate, despite playing three of their seven games against ranked opponents. South Carolina is second in the nation in scoring defense (46.7), trailing only Virgina Tech (46.1), which has not faced a ranked foe and only played two Power 5 opponents in its first seven games of the season. Only one Gamecock opponent has reached 70 points this season and needed overtime to get there (Stanford, 71, Nov. 20).
- Reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston is fifth in the nation with five double-doubles this season, three coming in the Gamecocks’ three games against ranked opponents.
- Senior guard Zia Cooke has netted double-figure points in six of seven games this season, missing only Hampton against which she played just 14 minutes. She is averaging a career-best 2.3 assists (3rd on team) with four games of three or more assists already (her career high is 10 such games in a season). Combining her 13.6 points per game with the 5.3 points per game scored on her assists, Cooke has her hands on 22.8 percent of the team’s offense.
- Junior Kamilla Cardoso has scored in double figures four times this season, but no performance was as dominant as her 16-point, nine-rebound effort against #15/17 UCLA (Nov. 29). From chasing down a guard to block a clear fast break layup in the opening quarter to pouring in 10 points and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, Cardoso was locked in.
By the Numbers
5 – Gamecocks hold five of the top 11 spots in the SEC blocked shots list – Beal (5th), Boston (6th), Cardoso (7th), Watkins (9th), Amihere (11th).
5 –South Carolina has five different players who have recorded at least one double-double already this season
11.1 – In the fourth quarter this season, South Carolina has outscored its opponent by an average of 11.1 points.
The Memphis Series
The Gamecocks have a 16-5 lead in the overall series, which dates back to AIAW days and the teams’ shared time in the Metro Conference through the early 1990s. That decade was the last time the two teams met with South Carolina punctuating the end of the regular series with a 73-68 win in Memphis on Jan. 25, 1993.
Dial Up the Defense
Head coach Dawn Staley has always put a premium on defense, but the Gamecocks have taken it to another level over the last four seasons (2019-20 to present), during which opponents have scored just 54.2 points per game with 45 of those 108 games (41.7 percent) coming against ranked opponents.
This season, South Carolina is second in the nation in scoring defense (46.7) and third in scoring margin (+36.1). Opponents have shot just 27.3 percent (best in the nation), and the Gamecocks lead the nation with 10.3 blocks per game.
Last season’s program-record low 50.7 points per game ranked third in the nation and helped the Gamecocks lead the nation in scoring margin (+20.2). South Carolina was second in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.332) and first in blocked shots per game (7.4).
No team reached its scoring average against the Gamecocks last season, including some of the SEC and the nation’s most prolific offenses, and only three came within single digits of it – Missouri (Dec. 30), Mississippi State (Jan. 2), vs. Kentucky (Mar. 6).