Gamecocks Set for Jimmy V Classic at Duke Sunday
No. 1/1 South Carolina continues its time on Tobacco Road with a 1 p.m. Sunday tipoff at Duke. The game will air on ABC as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
The Duke Series
South Carolina is 6-2 all-time against Duke since the series began in the 2001-02 season. At least one of the two teams has been ranked in all eight previous meetings with both ranked in five games.
Most of the games in the series have come in South Carolina’s Dawn Staley era, during which the Gamecocks are 6-1 against the Blue Devils with the lone loss coming in Durham (Dec. 4, 2016).
The most recent meeting was a Dec. 15, 2021, defensive battle in Durham. Then-No. 1 South Carolina escaped with a 55-47 victory over then-No. 15 Duke.
By the Numbers
3 – South Carolina’s three wins over AP Top-25 opponents are the most this season by a ranked team.
5 – Five Gamecocks have scored in double figures at least four times through the season’s first six games.
23.6 –The Gamecocks block an NCAA-best 23.6 percent of their opponents’ 2-point field goal attempts, according to Her Hoop Stats.
South Carolina’s strength and speed have a long-term impact as the Gamecocks’ most impressive quarters have been the second and fourth as opponents wear down. In the second quarter, they have a +14.7 scoring margin and 6.2 rebounding margin. In the fourth, those numbers are just slightly lower at +12.5 and +5.0, respectively.
The Gamecocks are 10th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 50.3 points per game. That number climbs to just 61.2 in their four games against Power-5 opponents.
Four Gamecocks have been the team’s top scorer at least once this season and five average double-figure points – with a sixth just under at 9.8 ppg.
South Carolina’s bench ranks fifth in the nation with 37.5 points per game. The group averages 20.5 rebounds and is shooting 51.4 percent from the field.
National Player of the Year candidate Kamilla Cardoso’s double-double average includes 11.8 rebounds per game, which rank eighth in the nation. She grabs an SEC-best 4.0 of those boards on the offensive end to rank 24th in the nation.
Senior transfer Te-Hina Paopao continues to thrive in and drive the Gamecock offense. Her 14 points and four assists at #24/24 UNC powered the victory as she hit all three of her 3s and handed out three assists in the pivotal second half. On the season, her SEC-best 53.6 percent 3-point shooting is 12th in the nation.
Junior Bree Hall’s solid all-around play at #24/24 UNC Thursday included a season-high 15 points, which moved her into third on the team in scoring against ranked opponents at 11.3 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting, including 50.0 percent (6-of-12) from 3-point range.
Raven Johnson’s SEC-best 7.5 assists per game (4th in the NCAA) include 5.7 per game against ranked teams.
Any question about South Carolina’s bench points falling off with last season’s top bench scorers moving into the starting lineup were dispelled early. The Gamecocks’ six-woman bench is fifth in the nation with 37.5 points per game.
Last season, the Gamecocks led the nation with 36.1 bench points per game. The second-place team (Georgia Southern) turned in 31.2.
Three for All
Long the Achilles Heel for the Gamecocks, this season’s South Carolina team has thrived behind the arc so far, especially when all 11 players have been available. The Gamecocks are second in the SEC in accuracy, hitting 34.9 percent from 3-point range and are making 6.3 3s per game on the season. Those numbers skyrocket to 45.1 percent accuracy and 7.7 made 3s per game against ranked opponents.
While the program record for made 3s per game is 9.2 set in 1993-94, the Staley era’s high was 5.8 per game in 2018-19.
Te-Hina Paopao’s SEC-best 53.6 percent accuracy ranks 12th in the country, and her 3.0 made 3s per game are also best in the SEC while ranking 21st in the nation.
Sophomore Ashlyn Watkins’ summer conditioning and court work have her thriving in her second season, averaging 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds (20th in SEC) and ranking fifth in the nation with 3.3 blocks per game.
With her athleticism never in question – she became the first Gamecock to dunk in a game last season at Clemson – Watkins is bringing all sides of her game together this season.
She has two double-doubles and at least three blocks in five games. She is second on the team in offensive rebounds with 3.17 per game, which rank ninth in the SEC.
Her poise late at #24/24 North Carolina (Nov. 30) helped deliver the win with her six fourth-quarter points capped by a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left.
That’s So Raven
SEC All-Freshman point guard Raven Johnson has the competitive fire, instincts and court vision that Staley loves, and her offensive efficiency has skyrocketed this season. Johnson’s court vision and speed have powered the Gamecocks’ high-octane offense – Staley asserting that she couldn’t slow Johnson down if she wanted to.
The redshirt-sophomore is fourth in the nation with an SEC-best 7.5 assists per game, and her SEC-best 4.09 assist-to-turnover ratio is 11th in the country. She has handed out five or more assists five times so far this season.
Johnson’s 17 assists against Clemson (Nov. 16) were the most by an SEC player since 2005, the second-most in program history, missing the record by one, and the most in the NCAA so far this season.
Beyond her assists, Johnson has more than doubled her scoring from last season with 10.7 points per game this season on a career-best 51.9 percent shooting.
With her scoring and 16.5 points per game off her assists, Johnson has her hands on 28.7 percent of the Gamecocks’ offense. Of her 7.5 assists per game, 42.2 percent (3.2) go to her long-time teammate and favorite target Kamilla Cardoso.
Johnson has put her mark on the Gamecock defense as well, ranking 18th in the nation with 3.4 steals per game, which includes three games of five steals.