Date: Sunday, January 22, 2012 Time: 1:30 p.m. (ET) Location: Nashville, Tenn. Arena: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316) TV: ESPNU (Doug Bell and Maria Taylor) Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Vanderbilt Series: VU leads 21-7; In Nashville: VU leads 11-2; In Columbia: VU leads 8-5; At Neutral Site: VU leads 2-0
South Carolina Notables
South Carolina is second in the SEC in rebounding margin in conference games (+7.4) and has two players ranked among the league's top 20 rebounders in league games, despite being one of just two teams in the league with fewer than three players who stand 6-foot-1 or taller.
The Gamecocks are facing one of the SEC's three most potent offenses for the second time in three games. Facing high-scoring Kentucky last Sunday, South Carolina held the Wildcats 15 points below their season average.
South Carolina's defense, rated second in the nation in points allowed (47.4), has held nine opponents to 48 or fewer points this season.
The Gamecocks' five losses this season have come by an average of just 5.8 points. Three of the losses were by five or fewer points and no margin of defeat has exceeded 10 points.
Turnovers have been key both to the Gamecocks' seven-game win streak and their current three-game skid. During the win streak, South Carolina averaged just 13.3 turnovers and allowed opponent to score just 10.7 points per game off them. In the last three games, the Gamecocks have turned it over 23.0 times per game and yielded 24.3 points per game off them. During the difficult stretch, 41.4 percent of the total points the Gamecocks allowed came off turnovers.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be the Gamecocks' 15th of the season, matching the 2002-03 team's 15-4 start to the season.
Be the Gamecocks' sixth on the road this season, making it the first season in which South Carolina has won more than five true road games since 1990-91.
Snap a three-game losing skid, which is the program's longest skein since dropping three in a row early in the 2010-11 season.
Be the Gamecocks' second straight at Memorial Gymnasium.
By the Numbers
1 Number of 3-pointers South Carolina allowed Vanderbilt in six attempts during the last matchup between the teams
2 National rank for the Gamecocks in scoring defense
3 Categories in which freshman Aleighsa Welch ranks among the SEC's top 10 in league games - field goal percentage (3rd), offensive rebounds (5th), and rebounds (9th)
4 Categories in which South Carolina ranks among the SEC's top three in league games, all of which are at least partially defense-related - scoring defense (2nd), 3-point field goal defense (1st), rebounding defense (1st) and rebounding margin (2nd)
7.7 Rebounds per game more for South Carolina than its SEC opponents this season, which ranks second in the league behind just Tennessee
8 Different Gamecocks that have been the team's top rebounder in a game this season, led by freshman Aleighsa Welch's eight games - all Gamecock victories
9 Games in which South Carolina's bench has outscored the starters, during which the Gamecocks are 6-3
11 Games this season that have been decided by more than 10 points, all won by the Gamecocks
13 Rebounds by junior guard Sancheon White at Auburn, making her the first Gamecock guard to reel in double-digit boards since Ieasia Walker snagged 11 at Ole Miss on Jan. 16, 2011
15 Games this season in which the Gamecock defense has allowed no more than 55 points
16 Games in which South Carolina has had a lead at halftime, during which the Gamecocks are 14-2
Last Time Out
South Carolina dropped a 53-49 decision at Auburn Thursday night after a second-half comeback fell just short in the final two minutes. The Gamecocks shook off turnovers and poor field goal percentage to mount a furious 16-5 rally midway through the second half, taking their first lead since the opening basket with 5:31 left to play. The Tigers fought back, though, and, after the Gamecocks tied the game with 2:19 on the clock, played tough defense and hit late free throws to collect the win.
Vanderbilt Series Notes
The Commodores lead the series 21-7, although the Gamecocks have won two of the last three meetings.
South Carolina posted a 65-55 win over the Commodores just over two weeks ago in Columbia behind 19 points from freshman Aleighsa Welch. Seniors Charenee Stephens and La'Keisha Sutton were also in double figures, and Stephens pulled in a game-high eight rebounds in the outing. The Gamecock defense was relentless, holding Vanderbilt to just one 3-pointer in six attempts from beyond the arc and forcing 26 turnovers.
The Gamecocks also won the last meeting at Memorial Gymnasium, a 73-70 decision on Feb. 28, 2010. Vandy was ranked 24th in the nation, but the Gamecocks used a 26-10 surge in the second half to upset the Commodores' Senior Day festivities. Overall, South Carolina is just 11-2 against the Commodores on their home court.
Rating the Ranked
South Carolina is 52-190 against nationally ranked teams in its 38th season of women's basketball. The Gamecocks have collected 29 of those 52 wins in Columbia, including 11 in Colonial Life Arena.
The highest ranked team the Gamecocks have defeated in the Dawn Staley era was then-No. 14 Georgia on Feb. 25, 2010, when South Carolina left Athens with a 52-42 victory. In its basketball history, South Carolina's highest-ranked victim was a No. 3-ranked foe, and there are two of those victories, both over Auburn. The first came by a 83-76 score at home on Dec. 29, 1990. The second was a 59-47 decision over the Tigers on Feb. 27, 1993 in the final home game of the season.
In the last three seasons South Carolina has defeated a nationally ranked team seven times in 24 outings, including this year's 2-2 record.
South Carolina has a 184-233 (.441) all-time record on the road. The Gamecocks' best season on the road was 1979-80 when they went 11-4. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 15-24 in road games. In her 11th season as a head coach, Staley has a 77-70 road record.
The Gamecocks are 5-3 on the road so far this season, matching the most true road games South Carolina has won under Staley, which the 2009-10 team also amassed. The Gamecocks have not won more than five true road games in a season since the 1990-91 squad went 6-4.
Life in the League
South Carolina is 84-189 all-time in its 21st season SEC regular-season play. The Gamecocks are 55-82 in SEC games played in Columbia with a 29-107 record on the road. The Gamecocks are 18-20 in conference play since head coach Dawn Staley's first season in the league yielded a 2-12 mark. This season's 3-2 start to league action matched that of the 2009-10 squad as the best five-game open since the 2001-02 squad went 4-1. Overall, Staley boasts a 119-57 record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple teams to a 99-25 Atlantic 10 mark.
Bringing the Defense
In the NCAA statistical rankings released through games of Jan. 19, the South Carolina defense was second in the nation in points allowed per game (47.4) behind just Connecticut (43.7). The Gamecocks have allowed more than 55 points just four times in 18 games this season - Kentucky 66 (Jan. 15), LSU 58 (Jan. 12), Drexel 58 (Dec. 28), Xavier 56 (Nov. 30) and have held nine opponents to 48 or fewer points.
Under head coach Dawn Staley, stingy defense has been a staple of the Gamecock game plan. South Carolina has allowed just 59.6 points per game on Staley's watch, including a 47.4 average this season and a 59.6 mark in 2010-11. In the last two seasons, the Gamecocks held their opponent to 55 or fewer points in a game 29 times, including 15 of 19 games this season. In the 109 games with Staley at the helm, South Carolina has held an opponent to 55 points or fewer 37 times. In that same period, an opponent has netted 70 or more points in a game just 26 times.
How Do They Go So Low?
One of the more interesting facets of the Gamecocks' stifling defense is that they have not necessarily held opponents to a sub-par shooting percentage. Through Staley's tenure, opponents have shot 41.0 percent from the field. South Carolina has shot 39.2 percent during that time with the Gamecocks' season field goal percentage exceeding that of its opponents just once (2009-10).
The defensive success appears to come from limiting opponent shot attempts entirely as South Carolina has put up more shots than its opponents every season except Staley's first (2008-09). This season alone, the Gamecocks have taken 10.6 more shots per game than their opponents. South Carolina has had fewer shot attempts than its opponent just once this season - Kentucky (Jan. 15).