Gamecocks and Gators Square Off Thursday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina is back at home Thursday night, hosting Florida at 7 p.m. ET at Colonial Life Arena. The game will stream live on SEC Network+
The game will be a White Out, so fans should wear their white Gamecock gear.
The Alaina Coates’ FAAM Foundation will again be collecting books to help build a mini library in the Columbia Ronald McDonald House.
And the Teddy Bear Toss is BACK! Bring a new teddy bear (soft items only) to toss onto the court when announced at halftime.
All three entrances at Colonial Life Arena will open at 6 p.m.
The Florida Series
South Carolina leads the all-time series 22-20 after winning the last 14 meetings, including seven in Colonial Life Arena.
The Gamecocks claimed the most recent meeting, 62-50 on Jan. 30, 2022, in Gainesville. South Carolina sprinted to a 19-3 lead and held off a second-half charge by the Gators. The last meeting in Columbia was a 75-59 decision on Dec. 31, 2020, to open the SEC slate that season. Then-sophomores Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke carried the offense with 28 and 26 points, respectively, while Boston added 16 rebounds, four blocks and three steals to the winning effort.
By the Numbers
6 – The Gamecocks’ six wins over ranked teams is the second-most in the country this season.
7, 10 – South Carolina’s offense is ranked 7th in points per game and 10th in field goal percentage.
19 – The Gamecocks have held their opponent under 60 points 19 times this season, including nine SEC games.
South Carolina’s 81.9 points per SEC game leads the league by more than five points per game. The Gamecocks 51.8 points allowed per league game is five points per game better than second place as well.
If defense wins championships, the Gamecocks remain on track to repeat their 2022 SEC and National Championships, leading the nation in scoring defense (49.0 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.304) and blocked shots per game (9.5)
Dawn Staley earned a spot on the Naismith Coach of the Year Late Season Watch List this week.
Reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston continues to be the most impactful player in the SEC and the nation. According to Her Hoop Stats, she is the only player in the country to rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive player rating and leads the SEC in both categories. She is the league’s active leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.
Sixth Woman of the Year candidate Kamilla Cardoso picked up her second SEC Player of the Week award after averaging 12.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in last week’s wins at Auburn and against #3/2 LSU. She shot a blistering 76.9 percent from the field and blocked five shots over the two games.
All-America candidate Zia Cooke broke out of a brief shooting slump to bury 52.2 percent of her shots over the last two games, averaging 16.0 points over that stretch.
SEC Freshman of the Year candidate Raven Johnson is eighth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.70) and is ninth in the SEC in assists per game (3.4). She has also averaged 7.4 points over the last five games.
Stalwart defender Brea Beal keeps showing off her offensive game this season. She poured in 7.5 points per game last week on 50.0 percent shooting to go along with 3.0 assists per game in that stretch.
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 53.6 points per game with 48 of those 126 games (38.1 percent) coming against ranked opponents.
This season, South Carolina leads the nation in scoring defense (49.0 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.304), and blocks per game (9.5) while ranking second in 3-point percentage defense (.241). Out-scoring opponents by 33.5 points per game, the Gamecocks also lead the nation in scoring margin.
No team has reached its scoring average against the Gamecocks this season with the closest being against Kentucky (Feb. 2), which missed its average by 1.2 points. Only one other team has come within single digits of its average (at UConn, -3.2).
On the season, opposing teams have been held an average of 22.4 points below their usual points per game, including a 19.5 average in SEC games.
The Gamecocks held their six ranked opponents 19.5 points below their average, including #2/2 Stanford, which scored 20 fewer than its average despite the game going into overtime.
South Carolina annually ranks among the best shot blocking teams in the country and leads the way again this season at 9.5 blocks per game (second place is 6.9).
This season, the Gamecocks have blocked 22.2 percent of their opponents’ 2-point attempts, which also leads the country. They have posted double-digit blocks nine times, led by 16 against Coastal Carolina (Dec. 21).
Four Gamecocks are among the SEC’s top 15 – Aliyah Boston (3rd, 2.0), Kamilla Cardoso (4th, 1.9), Laeticia Amihere (8th, 1.3) and Brea Beal (11th, 1.2). Boston’s average includes an SEC-best 2.4 in league play.