Two-Game Road Swing Starts in Starkville Sunday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina opens a two-game SEC road swing on Sun., Jan. 8, at Mississippi State. The Gamecocks and Bulldogs will tip off at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The Mississippi State Series
South Carolina leads the series 25-19 after winning the last four meetings. Three of those four games were by double figures. The four-game streak snapped a two-game skid to the Bulldogs, who swept the 2018-19 series.
In last season’s meeting, South Carolina claimed an 80-68 decision on Jan. 2 in Columbia. The Gamecocks’ last trip to Humphrey Coliseum was a 75-52 victory on Jan. 28, 2021.
By the Numbers
2.71 – Raven Johnson leads the SEC with a 2.71 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranks her 15th in the nation.
7 – Aliyah Boston needs seven rebounds to match Alaina Coates’ South Carolina record for career rebounds in SEC play.
51.0 – The Gamecocks have shot 51.0 percent from the field over the last five games, including 50.6 percent in the last three outings.
- South Carolina’s rebounding effort is nearly unmatched, ranking third in the nation in rebounding average (50.6), second in rebound margin (+21.1) and second in offensive rebounding percentage (.486).
- The nation’s best defense (43.5 ppg, .268 FG%) has held opponents to just 32.0 percent shooting in the paint and has blocked 23.7 percent of opponents’ 2-point field goals.
- 13 Gamecocks average at least 10 minutes with eight playing 15.0 or more and the leader averaging just 23.9.
- Seven Gamecocks have led or tied for the team lead in scoring and six have done so in rebounding. Four have recorded at least one double-double, and 12 have scored in double digits at least once.
- The South Carolina bench has scored 41.4 points per game to the starters’ 41.0 scoring average.
- Senior guard Zia Cooke’s efficiency is at a career-high level this season, shooting 42.1 percent from the field to rank 10th in the SEC. She has shot 45.0 percent or better eight times through 15 games, compared to 11 times in 37 games last season. Her 18.33 points per SEC game are fifth in the league.
- With most attention focused on her defense, which is immaculate allowing just 2.7 points per game with seven shutouts, Brea Beal is quietly the Gamecocks’ most efficient 3-point shooter at 41.0 percent with her 16 made 3s the second most on the team.
- Reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston is again proving to be the most formidable player in the country, evidenced this season by what opposing coaches are willing to do to try to stop her. Despite a steady diet of double and triple teams, Boston is ninth in the nation with eight double-doubles and third in the SEC in rebounding (8.9), blocks (1.80) and offensive boards (3.2). She is 11th in the nation in win share (5.3) and second in defensive win share (2.4).
The Gamecocks are 291-260 (.528) all-time in road games, including a 116-46 mark (.716) under head coach Dawn Staley. Her .716 winning percentage on the road is the best in program history.
In SEC road games, Gamecocks are 79-33 (.705) during Staley’s tenure.
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 53.3 points per game with 45 of those 116 games (38.8 percent) coming against ranked opponents.
This season, South Carolina leads the nation in scoring defense (43.5 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.268) and 3-point percentage defense (.205). Out-scoring opponents by 38.9 points per game, the Gamecocks are second in the nation in scoring margin, and they lead the nation with 9.9 blocks per game.
No team has reached its scoring average against the Gamecocks this season with the closest being #15/17 UCLA (Nov. 29), which missed its average by 12.1 points. On average, opposing teams have been held 26.7 points below their average.
The Gamecocks held their three ranked opponents 21.4 points below their average, including #2/2 Stanford, which scored 20 fewer than its average despite the game going into overtime. The Cardinal are the only team to reach 65 points against South Carolina, needing overtime to eclipse the mark.