No. 1 Gamecocks Back at Home Sunday
No. 1/1 South Carolina is back at home for the first time since Dec. 16, hosting Mississippi State in a 1 p.m. tipoff at Colonial Life Arena.
- Season ticket holders can attend the Chalk Talk presented by Atkins Law prior to the game. The session in the McGuire Club will start at 11:45 a.m. with early entrance to the arena via the College Street entrance beginning at 11:30.
The Mississippi State Series
The Gamecocks are 26-19 all-time against the Bulldogs, including wins in the last five meetings. In the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09), South Carolina is 17-6 in the series.
Two of the last four meetings were decided by single digits, including last season’s 58-51 Gamecock victory in Starkville (Jan. 8, 2023). The Bulldogs struck first in the first quarter, but South Carolina rallied back with a 20-7 second quarter to take a six-point lead into halftime. Mississippi State kept the pressure up, limiting the Gamecocks to just 26 points over the final 20 minutes of action with nine of those points coming at the free throw line.
By the Numbers
5 – Over the last five games, five Gamecocks scored at least 11.0 points per game.
7 – South Carolina has scored at least half its points in the paint in seven games this season, including its SEC opener at Florida on Thursday.
15,590 – South Carolina leads the nation in average attendance with 15,590 fans per game.
South Carolina is the only team ranked in the nation’s top 10 in both scoring offense (6th, 90.8 ppg) and defense (7th, 51.0 ppg). Only one other team ranks in the top 20 of both categories (West Virginia, 20th in both).
The Gamecocks have outscored opponents by 28.5 points per game in the paint this season. Their current 49.8 points per game account for 54.9 percent of their offense.
South Carolina is third in the nation in 3-point percentage, hitting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. Over the last five games, that number rose to 43.9 percent with both Te-Hina Paopao (.593) and Bree Hall (.500) shooting at least 50.0 percent in that stretch.
The Gamecocks lead the nation in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents just 28.8 percent shooting on the season. They have allowed a team to shoot at least 35.0 percent just four times.
South Carolina is second in the nation in rebounds per game (50.7) and third in rebounding margin (+17.2). Per Her Hoop Stats, the Gamecocks pull down 60.2 percent of available rebounds, which ranks sixth in the nation.
National Player of the Year candidate Kamilla Cardoso continues to impact all aspects of the Gamecocks’ success. In addition to ranking among the nation’s top 20 in double-doubles, rebounds and blocks per game, and field goal percentage, she is handing out 2.2 assists per game, which is fourth on the team.
Senior Te-Hina Paopao is enjoying the most efficient season of her three-time all-conference career. Her overall 52.0 percent shooting includes 55.6 percent 3-point accuracy, which ranks second in the nation. Those numbers translate to a career-best 19.3 points per 40-minutes. Paopao continues to be a great distributor as well, handing out 3.8 assist per game.
South Carolina sits atop both national polls again this week. It marks the 71st time the Gamecocks have been No. 1 in the AP Poll – the fourth-most of any program in that poll’s history.
The Gamecocks have the longest active streak of weeks in the AP Top 10 at 84, beginning with the 2019-20 preseason poll. Their 215 straight appearances in the AP Poll, dating back to Dec. 10, 2012, marks the second-longest active streak in the nation and the 10th longest all-time (9th place, La Tech, 221).
In the USA Today/WBCA Coaches’ Poll, South Carolina has been in the top 10 since claiming the No. 10 spot in the 2019-20 preseason poll.
The quality of South Carolina’s depth ranks among the best in the nation. The Gamecocks’ six-woman bench is third in the nation with an SEC-best 34.8 points per game. The South Carolina bench has out-scored its opponents’ starters five times this season, and the Gamecocks’ top scorer in a game has been off the bench three times.
The Gamecocks continue to have a dominant rebounding effort, ranking second in the nation with 50.7 rebounds per game. According to Her Hoop Stats, South Carolina is sixth in the nation in rebounding percentage, securing 60.2 percent of the opportunities actually rebounded.
Their offensive glass work is equally strong, ranking 10th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage at 41.0 (Her Hoop Stats). The Gamecocks’ 14.6 offensive boards have yielded 17.2 second-chance points, turning each offensive board into an average of 1.18 points.
Three Gamecocks are among the SEC’s top-20 rebounders, led by Kamilla Cardoso’s 10.5 average, which ranks 19th in the nation (3rd in SEC). Chloe Kitts is next in line at 7.2 per game to rank 12th in th SEC. Ashlyn Watkins is close behind at 6.8 to rank 18th in the SEC.
Cardoso’s 3.0 offensive boards per game are seventh in the SEC, and Watkins is next in line in with 2.8 offensive rebounds per game to rank 10th in the league.
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. The Gamecocks have blocked 20.8 percent of their opponents’ 2-point attempts this season, which leads the nation.
The Gamecocks have posted the top three shot-blocking games in the nation this season, led by their school record-tying 17 against Presbyterian (Dec. 16).
The SEC’s top two shot blockers – Kamilla Cardoso (3.1) and Ashlyn Watkins (3.0) – are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in the nation.
Nine different Gamecocks have blocked at least one shot this season, including guard MiLaysia Fulwiley who averages 1.3 on the season to rank 12th in the SEC.
That’s So Raven
Sophomore Raven Johnson’s self-proclaimed “revenge tour” has left little doubt that she should be part of any conversation about the best point guards in the country. Without losing the instincts and court vision Staley has always loved, Johnson has added her own offensive efficiency to the Gamecocks’ high-octane offense.
Johnson is 23rd in the nation and third in the SEC with 5.8 assists per game, and her 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio is 12th in the country. She has handed out five or more assists seven times 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 9.5 points per game this season on a career-best 54.1 percent shooting, which includes 40.7 percent accuracy from 3-point range.
With her points and teammates scoring 13.3 points per game off her assists, Johnson has her hands on 25.3 percent of the Gamecocks’ offense (22.8 ppg).
Johnson has put her mark on the Gamecock defense as well, ranking fifth in the SEC with 2.7 steals per game, which includes four games of at least four steals.