Date: Thursday, January 10, 2013 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Tickets: $7 adults/Free for youth (17 and under) Live Video:GamecocksOnline.com (Free) Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Vanderbilt Series: VU leads 21-8; In Columbia: VU leads 8-5; In Nashville: VU leads 11-3; Neutral Site: VU leads 2-0
The Gamecock defense has held 11 of its 15 opponents to less than 50 points to rank third in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 47.4 points per game. South Carolina has allowed just more than 60 points just once this season.
South Carolina has found success by limiting its opponents offensive opportunities. While allowing foes to shoot 34.1 percent from the field, the Gamecocks are taking 7.3 more shots per game than their opponents. Last season's defensive effort held opponents to just 51.1 field goal attempts per game with the Gamecocks taking 6.8 more shots per contest over the course of the season.
Senior guard Sancheon White has thrived since the beginning of SEC play, averaging 9.0 points per game and a team-best 6.5 rebounds per outing. In non-conference action, she posted 5.8 points and 3.7 boards per game.
Sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch is fourth in the SEC in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and leads the league on the offensive glass (4.5). She is second in the conference with six double-doubles, the first of her career.
Senior guard Ieasia Walker swiped five steals against Western Carolina (Dec. 29) to become just the 13th Gamecock to amass at least 200 in her career. The three-year starter is also on track to reach the 1,000-point plateau this season, needing just 37 points to reach the mark.
Senior forward Ashley Bruner is one of 26 Gamecocks to amass 500 career rebounds and has a chance to become just the 18th to record at least 600, needing 61 to achieve that plateau.
By the Numbers 3 Rank in the nation for South Carolina in scoring defense as the Gamecocks have allowed just 47.4 points per game, which leads the SEC 9.0 Points per game scored by senior guard Sancheon White in SEC play 11 Opponents South Carolina has held under 60 points in the team's 15 games this season 14 Deficit at halftime for the Gamecocks against Drexel before coming back to win in overtime, the largest deficit South Carolina has overcome since rallying from 18 points down with 8:15 to play in the first half against LSU on Jan. 6, 2011 and the largest second-half deficit overcome by the Gamecocks in the Dawn Staley era 32 Free throws made by the Gamecocks at Mississippi State (Jan. 6), the most in the Dawn Staley era, the fourth-most in school history and the most ever in a road game 33 Second-chance points scored by South Carolina on its 33 offensive rebounds over the last two games 53.3 Percent of the Gamecocks' 60 points at Mississippi State (Jan. 6) that came from the free throw line 68 Offensive rebounds by Aleighsa Welch this season, more than half of her total of 132, to lead the SEC in offensive rebounding 538 Career rebounds by senior forward Ashley Bruner, placing her among just 26 Gamecocks to achieve the 500-rebound plateau. She needs 49 more to make the program's top-20.
The Vanderbilt Series
The Commodores hold a 21-8 advantage in the all-time series with South Carolina, but the Gamecocks have won three of the last four meetings to hold a 3-2 edge during the Dawn Staley era.
South Carolina swept both games of the series last season for the first time in program history. The Gamecocks followed a 65-55 victory at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 5, 2012, with a 65-60 overtime decision on Jan. 22 in Nashville.
Five of South Carolina's wins over Vanderbilt have come in Columbia, but the Gamecocks are just 1-5 against the Commodores in Colonial Life Arena.
Scouting the Commodores
Vanderbilt brings a 12-3 record into tonight's game with those three losses coming back in November. The Commodores have not lost in their last nine outings, winning those games by an average of 24.0 points. The streak includes wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State to open SEC play.
Head coach Melanie Balcomb's team is a precision combination of offense and defense as the Commodores average 71.9 points on 45.2 percent shooting, including an SEC-best 37.0 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to just 56.4 points per game.
Vanderbilt's top three scorers rank among the top 22 in the SEC with two of them among the league's most accurate shooters. Senior forward Tiffany Clarke leads the way at 16.3 points per game (4th in SEC) on 58.2 percent shooting (2nd in SEC). Her 8.2 rebounds per game also rank her seventh in the league, and she adds 1.5 blocked shots per contest as well.
Junior Christina Foggie adds 15.6 points per game, shooting 36.0 percent from 3-point range. Junior Jasmine Lister rounds out the trio of double-digit scorers with 11.8 points per game to go with her 6.1 assists per game, which ranks second in the SEC.
Gamecocks' Five-Second Count
With a complementary blend of youth and experience, South Carolina opened a season 10-0 for the first time since the 1981-82 team also won its first 10 contests. The Gamecocks, now 13-2, have shown they have both inside and outside offensive options and are dominant on the glass this season while the defense has dropped off very little from last season's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 effort. Two Gamecocks average double-figure points with three others netting 6.0 or more points per game. South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation with a +12.3 rebounding margin and has three players ranked among the SEC's top 20 rebounders. Defensively, the Gamecocks are third in the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 47.4 points per game. South Carolina has held 11 of its 15 opponents this season under 50 points and limited five of the 15 to under 30 percent field goal shooting, including Hampton which hit just 19.3 percent (11-57) from the field for the second-lowest opponent field goal percentage of the Staley era.
Life in the League
South Carolina is 92-193 all-time in its 22nd season of SEC regular-season play. The Gamecocks are 59-84 in SEC games played in Columbia with a 33-109 record on the road. Under head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks have a 28-36 SEC record, which includes a 2-12 slate in her first season at the helm. The program's 27 SEC regular-season victories in Staley's first four seasons are the best four-year mark for the program in more than a decade.
Last season's 10 wins matched the 2001-02 team for the best since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. It was just the third time in its 21 seasons in the league that South Carolina posted at least nine conference wins. In fact, the Gamecocks have only won seven or more league games six times in their 21 seasons with three of those coming under Staley.
Overall, Staley boasts a 127-61 record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple teams to a 99-25 Atlantic 10 mark.
The hallmark of the Gamecocks under head coach Dawn Staley has always been defense, and this season's team is no different. Through games of Jan. 6, South Carolina's defense ranks third in the nation in points allowed per game (47.4), trailing just Connecticut (45.3) and Michigan State (45.6). The Gamecocks have allowed just one opponent to score more than 60 points this season (Tennessee, Jan. 3) and have held 11 under 48 through the first 15 games of the season.
One of the more interesting facets of the Gamecocks' stifling defense is that it has not necessarily held opponents to a sub-par shooting percentage. Through Staley's tenure, opponents have shot 39.9 percent from the field (3,305-7,611). The defensive success has come from limiting opponent shot attempts entirely, especially from the 3-point line. South Carolina has attempted more total shots than its opponents every season except Staley's first (2008-09). Opponents have attempted more 3s than the Gamecocks just once as well (2009-10).
South Carolina is ranked 13th in the country and second in the SEC in turnovers, committing just 13.7 per game. In conference play, that number is down to 11.5 per game. The Gamecocks have committed 10 or fewer turnovers four times this season, including a pair of seven-turnover games that rank among the top five in the Dawn Staley era. South Carolina has turned it over more than 15 times in a game just three times, while the defense has forced more than 15 turnovers nine times. The Gamecocks' 13.7 turnovers per game is the lowest average by the program since the 1983-84 team set the school record of 8.2.