Gamecocks Try To Bounce Back
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — No. 1/2 South Carolina is back at Colonial Life Arena for the first time in two weeks when the Gamecocks (22-1, 10-0 SEC) host LSU (14-9, 8-3 SEC) on Thu., Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. The first 5,000 fans will get a garnet “one.” t-shirt, and All South Federal Credit Union rally towels will be available for the first 8,000 through the turnstiles. Game Information Opponent: LSU (14-9, 8-3 SEC) Date: Thursday, February 12, 2015 | 7 p.m. Site: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 and under) Broadcast: FSN (Stephanie Ready, pxp; LaChina Robinson, analyst); via ESPN3 (subject to blackout) Radio: 1320 The Fan/107.5 The Game (Brad Muller) Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com Series History: LSU leads 22-7 South Carolina Notables The Gamecocks have drawn 10,000 or more for seven of their 10 home games this season, highlighted by the 17,156 for the Kentucky game (Jan. 2) – the second-largest women’s basketball crowd in Arena history. South Carolina has shown its versatility throughout games this season with six different Gamecocks leading the offense in at least one game – three guards (Tiffany Mitchell, Bianca Cuevas, Asia Dozier) and three post players (A’ja Wilson, Alaina Coates, Aleighsa Welch). Junior Tiffany Mitchell was named to the Capital One Academic All-District 4 team last week. An entry on all three national player of the year watch lists, she is third in the SEC with 14.9 points per game this season, while ranking second in the league shooting 51.5 percent. The reigning SEC Player of the Year is shooting 48.4 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore Alaina Coates is among the SEC’s top 10 in double-doubles (1st, 10), rebounding (4th, 8.7), blocked shots (3rd, 1.7), offensive rebounds (9th, 3.0) and free throw percentage (9th, .705). She has already matched her freshman season total for double-doubles, putting her into the Gamecocks’ career top 10 with 20. Nine of that career total have come in SEC play. South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson is the only freshman named to either the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 or the Naismith Top 50 Watch List, joining Mitchell on both lists. She one of two SEC freshmen ranked in the league’s top 20 in scoring (12th, 13.1 ppg) and is the only one to also hold a top-20 spot in rebounding (10th, 6.9 rpg). Her 1.5 blocked shots per game come in fifth. Freshman point guard Bianca Cuevas has been impressive in SEC play, especially in powerful performances in the last five league games. During the stretch, the high-octane Bronx, N.Y., native averages 11.6 points on 51.2 percent shooting and 2.4 assists. Notes A South Carolina Win Would… Be the Gamecocks’ 29th straight at home, which would be the longest active streak in the nation. By the Numbers 3 Gamecocks named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30 – Tiffany Mitchell, A’ja Wilson and Aleighsa Welch 3 Gamecocks ranked among the SEC’s top four shot blockers in league play – Alaina Coates (2nd, 2.0), A’ja Wilson (3rd, 1.8) and Aleighsa Welch (4th, 1.5) 6 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have held a team to less than 30.0 percent shooting 5.4 Free throws made per game more by the Gamecocks than their opponents (14.7-9.3) 9.3 Rebounds per game against ranked opponents by Aleighsa Welch this season, compared to her 4.9 average in other games 51.6 Percent of the Gamecocks’ points in SEC games scored by the bench LSU Series History The Lady Tigers have a commanding 22-7 lead in this series, but the Gamecocks have won the last three meetings to lift their Staley-era record to 4-6 against LSU. In the first meeting this season, the Gamecocks used a 12-4 run down the stretch of the first half to establish a 15-point lead at the break en route to the 77-51 win on Jan. 4, 2015. A’ja Wilson nearly had her double-double by halftime with 9 of her 21 points and eight of her 13 rebounds coming in just 14 first-half minutes. South Carolina shot 50.9 percent from the field while holding the Lady Tigers to 34.4 percent, including just 1-of-7 from 3-point range. The Lady Tigers’ last win in the series, a 58-48 decision, came on Jan. 12, 2012, in Baton Rouge. LSU out-scored South Carolina 38-21 in the second half behind 52.6 percent shooting. Home Sweet Home The Gamecocks are in the midst of unprecedented success at Colonial Life Arena, having won the last 28 games on their home court, including the facility’s first perfect season in 2013-14. That 16-0 mark alone matched the previous record for win streak at the Arena, originally set Jan. 20, 2002-Jan. 9, 2003. South Carolina’s last loss at Colonial Life Arena was a 50-48 decision to then-No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 10, 2013. The longest home win streak in school history is 32 games, which spanned three seasons. That streak began with a win over Clemson on Dec. 10, 1977, and ended with a win over Tennessee Tech on March 4, 1980. The stretch included a perfect 11-0 record in 1978-79 at Carolina Coliseum (9-0) and the Sol Blatt P.E. Center (2-0). Overall, South Carolina is 143-58 (.711) at Colonial Life Arena, including a 77-25 (.755) mark under head coach Dawn Staley. In the now 41-year history of the program, the Gamecocks are 388-155 (.715) in home games. Crowd Control With over 8,200 season tickets issued, the Gamecocks have enjoyed unprecedented support at Colonial Life Arena this season. South Carolina has led the nation in average attendance (11,852). In fact, the Gamecocks boast four of the top-10 game attendances in the nation this season with Tennessee and Louisville the only other programs with multiple entries. South Carolina’s four entries range from the 17,156 for the Kentucky game – second most in Colonial Life Arena history and in the nation this season – to the 11,927 for the Alabama matchup. South Carolina women’s basketball has logged 11 crowds of over 10,000 fans in Colonial Life Arena history, 10 of which have come in the last three seasons, including seven this season. SEC Stories Head coach Dawn Staley has steadily lifted the Gamecocks’ national profile by building the Gamecocks into a consistent SEC contender, shirking decades of difficulty in the nation’s best women’s basketball conference. In her seventh season at the helm, Staley boasts a 62-42 (.596) SEC regular-season record and has finished outside the league’s top five just twice – an unprecedented achievement for a program that had finished INSIDE the top five just twice in the previous 17 seasons. Staley’s 62 wins include three seasons of double-digit league victories – 10-6 in 2012, 11-5 in 2013 and an SEC-best 14-2 in 2014. Staley’s SEC regular-season record includes a 33-18 (.647) mark at home and a 29-24 (.547) slate on the road.