Opponent: Auburn Tigers (10-5, 1-1 SEC) Date: Sunday, January 12, 2014, 2:30 p.m. Site: Auburn, Ala. Arena:Auburn Arena (9,121) TV: SportSouth (Dave Baker, play-by-play; Christy Winters Scott, analyst) Radio: WNKT 107.5 FM/WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Video:ESPN3.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Series History: AU leads 21-16
South Carolina Notables
South Carolina opened SEC play 3-0 for just the third time since joining the league in 1991-92, but two of those seasons have been in the last three campaigns - 2011-12 and 2013-14. The best start to an SEC season in school history was 4-0 in 2001-02.
The Gamecock offense is built from the inside-out and is more diverse than ever in the Dawn Staley era. Four SEC schools have three players listed among the top 30 scorers in league play with only Tennessee's trio ranking higher than the Gamecocks' triple threat of Tiffany Mitchell (9th, 17.3 ppg), Alaina Coates (14th, 15.0 ppg) and Aleighsa Welch (25th, 12.0 ppg).
Center Alaina Coates earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after kicking off her debut SEC season with a pair of double-doubles last week, including a career-high 24 points against Vanderbilt. She is the only freshman to rank among the league's top 20 rebounders and top 25 scorers. She added another against Kentucky (10 pts/17 rebs) and now leads the SEC in rebounding with 13.0 per league game, while ranking 14th in scoring (15.0/SEC game).
A South Carolina Win Would...
Make the Gamecocks 4-0 in SEC play for just the second time in school history (2001-02)
Be the Gamecocks' first at Auburn since Feb. 4, 2010
By the Numbers
1 Team with two players listed among both the SEC's overall top 25 scorers and top 20 rebounds - Alaina Coates (23rd/15th) and Aleighsa Welch (15th/10th) 4 Games this season in which multiple Gamecocks have posted a double-double (LA Tech, CofC, at Arkansas, Kentucky) 6 Blocked shots by junior center Elem Ibiam against No. 9/10 Kentucky (Jan. 9) to tie the Gamecock record in an SEC game (Teresa Geter vs. Auburn, 1/7/01) 7 Individual 20-point games this season by the Gamecock - four by Alaina Coates (CSU, at SDSU, SC State, Vandy), two by Tiffany Mitchell (at USC, Winthrop) and one by Aleighsa Welch (vs. UNC) 8 Games in which South Carolina has shot at least 50.0 percent from the field this season after reaching the mark just 12 times in the previous five seasons under Staley 10 Games this season in which South Carolina has scored at least 50.0 percent of its points in the paint, including three of at least 60.0 percent of scoring coming from the paint (Charleston Southern, 70.7%; at USC, 60.0%; Kentucky, 61.8%) 10 Opponents who have been held to 55 or fewer points by the Gamecocks this season, helping the Gamecocks rank third in the nation in scoring defense (49.9 ppg) 13.0 Rebounds per SEC game for freshman center Alaina Coates to lead the conference 14 Shots blocked by South Carolina against No. 9/10 Kentucky (Jan. 9) to set the school record
Auburn Series Notes
The Tigers lead the series 21-16, but the Gamecocks have won four of the last six outings. Both losses during the stretch have come on the road, though, with South Carolina's last win at Auburn coming on Feb. 4, 2010 (61-58).
Last season's meeting in Columbia resulted in a 59-51 win for the 15th-ranked Gamecocks behind a stellar outing from then-freshman guard Khadijah Sessions. Her 19 points led all scorers and came in just 25 minutes on the court. The Tigers dominated the paint and out-rebounded the Gamecocks 35-28, but South Carolina's six 3s helped deliver the victory.
Auburn's last win in the series was a 53-49 decision at Auburn Arena on Jan. 19, 2012. The Gamecocks trailed by nine at the half after shooting just 24.1 percent in the period, and their second-half rally came up just short. Inside play was owned by the Tigers with 34 points in the paint to the Gamecocks' 22, and no South Carolina player reached double-figure points.
For the first time in her tenure at South Carolina, head coach Dawn's Staley's Gamecocks look different - on the court and in the box score. After seasons of building around defense, Staley finally as a group that is designed for offensive efficiency. The Gamecocks are scoring more (75.2 ppg) and more efficiently (.483 FG %age - 1st in SEC, 5th in nation) than at any time in the Staley era. And, after seasons of talented guards generating their own offense, Staley's 2013-14 success is predicated on getting the ball inside - three primary post players combine to score 48.1 percent of the team's points - and on ball movement creating the best shots as 61.4 percent of made field goals have been assisted.
Defense is still a staple of the program with the Gamecocks ranking second in the SEC and third in the nation, allowing just 50.2 points per game. Only six of 16 opponents this season have scored 55 or more points against South Carolina.
With comprehensive records beginning in the 1976-77 season (the third for women's basketball at South Carolina), the Gamecocks are 200-234 (.461) all-time in games played on the road, including a 31-29 mark (.517) in the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks had winning road records in each of the last two seasons, combining for a 16-8 record (.667) in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Two-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree Alaina Coates has put her stamp on the program just 16 games into her career, performing especially well in SEC action. The 6-foot-4 center is tied for top honors as the league's best freshman rebounder with 8.3 per game overall and leads the league, regardless of class, with 13.0 rebounds per conference game. She also leads the conference in blocked shots per SEC game (4.0). Overall, Coates is the only freshman in the SEC to rank among both the top 25 scorers and top 20 rebounders (12.3 ppg, 23rd; 8.3 rpg, 5th).
Many of her performances this season already rank among the program's best for a freshman, highlighted by becoming the first Gamecock freshman to post a perfect shooting night with 7-of-7 field goals and 9-of-9 free throws against SC State (Dec. 22) and the first to post double-doubles in her first two SEC contests (since extended to three games). She is one of just six Gamecock freshman to record at least six double-doubles in a season, trailing the freshman record of nine (Kelsey Bone, 2009-10). Coates' 17 rebounds against No. 9/10 Kentucky (Jan. 9) are the most ever by a Gamecock freshman, and her five blocks at Arkansas (Jan. 2) and 15 free throw attempts at San Diego State (Nov. 23) tied the South Carolina freshman records.