Gamecock Gameday: Women’s Basketball at LSU Sunday

COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 5/5 South Carolina is on the road again this Sunday, traveling to Baton Rouge, La., for a 3 p.m. (ET) tipoff at LSU. The Gamecocks (14-1, 4-0 SEC) look for continued strong play from junior guardBianca Cuevas-Moore, who poured in a career-high 25 points in Thursday’s win over Georgia.

South Carolina Notables

  • Under head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 7-5 against LSU, including a three-game sweep of the Lady Tigers in South Carolina’s 2014-15 NCAA Final Four season. Winners of the last six meetings between the two teams, the Gamecocks have struggled in Baton Rouge with a 3-12 mark on LSU’s home court.
  • Junior center Alaina Coates is the NCAA Div. I active leader in career rebounds (1,089) and double-doubles (52). She ranks third and fourth, respectively, in the category across all NCAA divisions. Northwestern’s Nia Coffey is her next closest rival in both categories, trailing Coates’ rebound total by 40 and her double-double mark by three. Brionna Jones of Maryland is third in both stats.
  • In the absence of junior forward A’ja Wilson against Georgia, the Gamecock backcourt stepped up to net 54 of the team’s 66 points (.818) in the contest. South Carolina’s guards handled at least 75.0 percent of the team’s scoring only two other times this season – at Auburn (56 of 73 points) and at #7/6 Ohio State (73 of 82 points).
  • Junior guard Allisha Gray has re-asserted herself in the Gamecocks’ lineup the last two games, averaging 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the victories. She posted her sixth game of five or more rebounds against Georgia Thursday night with the most crucial coming in the final in the final five seconds of the one-point game. Fouled as she collected the missed free throw, Gray netted both of her resulting free throws to seal the tight victory.
  • Junior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore has been nearly unstoppable in her new sixth-woman role for the Gamecocks. In league play, she is one of two players to rank among the league’s top 20 scorers and in its top 15 in assists, and, on the court 28.0 minutes per game, the Bronx, N.Y., native averages 6.9 minutes fewer than her counterpart (Makayla Epps, Kentucky). Cuevas-Moore’s 14.0 points per SEC game are second-best for South Carolina as is her 3.0 assists per league contest. In SEC games, she is shooting 52.5 percent (8th), including 58.8 percent from 3-point range (2nd), and is hitting 2.5 3s per game (3rd).
  • When the Gamecocks opened the Georgia game with freshmen Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan in the starting lineup, it marked just the eighth time in the Dawn Staley era that a pair of first-year players were on the court at the opening tipoff and the first time since the 2009-10 season. That season, two freshmen started five times, while it occurred twice in the 2008-09 season.

>> By the Numbers

4 Gamecocks named to the Naismith Trophy Top 50 Preseason Watch List – Alaina Coates, Kaela Davis, Allisha Gray, A’ja Wilson – tied for most in the nation
6 Double-doubles by Alaina Coates in the last eight games, including three of four SEC games
6 Games of five or more rebounds by junior guard Allisha Gray this season
8 Games of the Dawn Staley era in with a pair of Gamecock freshman have been in the starting lineup after forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan joined Tyasha Harris in the starting five against Georgia (Jan. 15)

>> LSU Series Notes

Gamecocks’ wins have come in the last six meetings and by an average of 21.2 points. South Carolina is 7-5 against LSU in the Dawn Staley era with three of those wins coming in the 2014-15 season.

In the most recent matchup, the Gamecocks posted a 75-39 victory over LSU to cap their undefeated SEC regular-season on Feb. 28, 2016, in Colonial Life Arena. Stalwart defensive efforts in the first and third quarters, holding the Tigers to single digts, and efficient offense in the second and fourth periods, 77.8 and 60.0 percent, respectively, powered the Gamecocks to the most lopsided victory by either team in the history of the series.

South Carolina has struggled in Baton Rouge, posting just a 3-12 record and a 2-3 mark in the Staley era. The last meeting at the Maravich Center was a 75-51 victory on Jan. 4, 2015, as the then-No. 1 Gamecocks got 21 points and 13 rebounds off the bench from then-freshman A’ja Wilson in just her first career SEC road game.

>> Road Ready

The Gamecocks are 233-246 all-time in true road games, including a 61-35 mark under head coach Dawn Staley. In SEC action, Staley is 39-25 on the road in her ninth season at South Carolina.

>>Rankings Review

Ranked fifth in this week’s AP Poll, the Gamecocks are in the midst of the nation’s third-longest active top-10 ranking streak (61), trailing just UConn (224) and Notre Dame (117) and well ahead of fourth-place Baylor (46). South Carolina has appeared in the top 25 in each of the last 83 AP Polls.

In the Staley era, South Carolina has collected 48 top-five rankings in the AP Poll, including 42 weeks in the top three and 12 weeks at No. 1. well.

>>Helping Hands

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley likes to say that with good movement, the ball will find who is supposed to shoot it on any given possession. With four 1,000-point scorers on this season’s team, many observers wondered how the quartet would abide that philosophy.

Early returns are good as the Gamecocks lead the SEC and rank 47th in the nation in assists per game at 16.3. The quartet of 1,000-point scorers account for 8.5 assists per game of that average with Allisha Gray leading the way at 2.8 and Kaela Davis just behind at 2.7.

As a team, the Gamecocks have assisted on at least half their field goals 12 times in 15 games, including two games assisting on at least two-thirds of their made baskets – vs. Minnesota (Dec. 11), at Auburn (Jan. 5).

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks