Jan. 27, 2018
#9/7 South Carolina vs #11/11 Missouri
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 9/7 South Carolina hosts No. 11/11 Missouri Sunday night in the Gamecocks’ seventh top-25 battle of the season in the Gamecocks' We Back Pat game, honoring legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt. South Carolina’s offense has been more effective that Missouri’s, averaging 82.5 points per game to the Tigers’ 72.0 average, but the Tigers lead the SEC in rebounding margin at +11.0 per game.
Parking in Lots A and B will be pass only, however, public handicap parking in those lots will be $10. Additional private and city lot parking is also $10. Shuttles from the Pendleton and Park Street garages will begin two hours prior to tip-off, and will be $3 roundtrip.
South Carolina Notables
The expansion of senior forward A'ja Wilson's game has been steady throughout her career, and the 6-foot-5 three-time All-American is putting it all together in her final college season. Her usual benchmark numbers – 23.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game – rank among the top 15 in the nation. The newest wrinkle? Reading defenses more quickly and her ability to bring the ball up the court against pressure have her handing out 1.8 assists per game. She is shooting 50.0 percent from 3-point range (5-of-10) and picking up 1.1 steals per game.
The floor general of the uber-efficient Gamecock offense – ranked third in the nation in field goal percentage – is sophomore Tyasha Harris. Challenged by her head coach to find more balance in her game to keep defenders honest, the consummate point guard is third in the nation in points-assists double-double with six, including three in SEC action. She is 10th in the nation with 6.9 assists per game and averages 11.3 points on the season. Her 7.5 assists per conference game are best in the league by more than two assists per game.
Junior forward Alexis Jennings has been the interior anchor the Gamecocks thought they lost with the graduation of Alaina Coates last season. The 6-foot-2 Jennings is just as powerful in the paint and is the ideal complement for Wilson, which allows both to thrive. She is fourth in the nation with a .656 field goal percentage, a number that goes up to .688 in SEC action. She's averaging 16.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in January, including 22.0 ppg in the last three games.
By the Numbers
2 Made 3-pointers by Arkansas (Jan. 25), which entered the game averaging 7.7 per game
4.7 Average AP ranking of the Gamecocks' next three opponents
16 Points from freshman Bianca Jackson vs. Arkansas, responding to Staley's urging to be more aggressive on the offensive end
17 Games this season in which South Carolina has out-scored its opponent in the paint – all Gamecock victories
Missouri Series Notes
The Gamecocks lead the series 4-3, including a 2-0 mark at Colonial Life Arena. Tonight's game marks the third in the series in which both teams are nationally ranked. The Tigers won this season's first meeting, an 83-74 decision at Mizzou Arena on Jan. 7. The Gamecocks suffered a poor-shooting second quarter to fall behind 35-29 at halftime and could not recover, despite shooting 56.7 percent in the second half. The Tigers won the points-in-the-paint battle 34-28 and netted eight 3s to the Gamecocks' six.
Head coach Dawn Staley has built the Gamecocks into a consistent SEC contender with four straight regular-season titles, shirking decades of difficulty in the nation’s best women’s basketball conference. In her 10th SEC season at the helm, Staley boasts a 103-47 (.687) conference 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 only two times in the previous 17 seasons. Staley’s 103 wins include six seasons of double-digit league victories – 10 in 2012; 11 in 2013; an SEC-best 14 in 2014, 15 in 2015 and 16 in 2016; and 14 in 2017 – and account for 61.7 percent of the program’s all-time 167 league wins. Staley’s SEC regular-season record includes a 55-20 (.733) mark at home and a 48-27 (.640) slate on the road.
With a 3-3 mark this season, South Carolina is 53-48 against nationally ranked opponents under head coach Dawn Staley, although that record is skewed by the early seasons of her tenure as the Gamecocks are 38-9 versus ranked foes since the start of the 2014-15 campaign. South Carolina is 17-6 against top-10 opponents during that time.
Location, Location, Location
The Gamecock frontcourt simply reloaded this season, and South Carolina averages 42.4 points in the paint this season, making up 51.4 percent of its offense. In fact, 68.5 percent of the team’s made field goals this season have come in the paint.
The Gamecocks are out-pacing their opponents in that space by 16.8 points per game, and their interior advantage has been at least 20 points six times, including twice with a season-high 48 – against Alabama State (Nov. 10) and Western Carolina (Nov. 30). Only three opponents have out-scored South Carolina in the paint this season – #6/6 Notre Dame (Nov. 26) 58-42, #15/15 Missouri (Jan. 7) 28-34 and #6/6 Tennessee (Jan. 14) 36-44 – which are also the Gamecocks’ only losses this season.
South Carolina's starting frontcourt – whatever the combination has been (Jennings/Wilson, Jennings/Herbert Harrigan or Jennings/Grissett) has accounted for 43.6 percent of the Gamecocks' scoring this season, averaging a combined 36.0 points per game.
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