Date: Sunday, January 29, 2012 Time: 2 p.m. Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 & under) TV: SEC Network; (Cara Capuano and Abby Waner); In Columbia airs on WKTC My 63 (TWC Ch. 4) Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Mississippi State Series: MSU leads 16-10; In Columbia: SC leads 7-5; In Starkville: MSU leads 9-3; At Neutral Site: MSU leads 2-0
South Carolina Notables
This is the 38th season of women's basketball at South Carolina and the Gamecocks' 21st season in the SEC.
South Carolina's defense, rated second in the nation in points allowed (47.8), has held an opponent to 48 or fewer points 10 times this season, including three SEC foes - Alabama (42), Florida (44) and Ole Miss (43). The 2005-06 team held opponents to 48 or fewer points a school-record 11 times.
Senior guard La'Keisha Sutton set her career-high for 3-pointers made twice in the last to games, amassing half of her season total over the stretch. With four at Vanderbilt and five against Ole Miss, Sutton made 75.0 percent of her long-range attempts in the last two games after entering the contests hitting just 9-of-50 (.180).
While turning the high-scoring duties over to her hot-shooting backcourt mates the last two games, junior Ieasia Walker has averaged 5.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds over the stretch. That rebound average is second-best on the team, and her career-high seven assists against Ole Miss moved her into the team league in assists per SEC outing (3.0).
South Carolina is second in the SEC in rebounding margin in conference games (+6.4) and has two players ranked among the league's top 20 rebounders in league games - Aleighsa Welch (11th) and Charenee Stephens (20th), despite being one of just two teams in the league (Vanderbilt) with fewer than three players who stand 6-foot-1 or taller.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be the Gamecocks' second straight over Mississippi State after they had dropped the previous four to the Lady Bulldogs.
Give the Gamecocks a 17-5 record on the season, matching the 2002-03 team's start.
Be the Gamecocks' sixth SEC win of the season, making it the third time in four seasons under head coach Dawn Staley the Gamecocks have reached that mark after the program had won six or more league games just four times in the 17 seasons prior to her arrival.
By the Numbers
2 Statistical categories in which South Carolina is second in the nationl - scoring defense (47.8 ppg allowed) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (21.1 percent allowed)
3 Games of scoring 20 or more points for senior guard Markeshia Grant this season, the first of her career
4 Gamecocks who average at least 4.0 rebounds per SEC game - Aleighsa Welch (6.5), Charenee Stephens (4.9), Ieasia Walker (4.8) and Sancheon White (4.3)
5 Categories in which South Carolina ranks among the SEC's top three in league games - scoring defense (1st), 3-point field goal defense (1st), rebounding defense (1st), rebounding margin (2nd) and 3-point field goals made (2nd)
6.4 Rebounds per game more for South Carolina than its SEC opponents this season, which ranks second in the league behind just Tennessee
7 Assists handed out by junior guard Ieasia Walker against Ole Miss, a career high, which moved her into the team lead with 3.0 assists per SEC contest
8 Points by which the Gamecocks trailed before rallying to victory at then-#25/22 Vanderbilt (Jan. 22), which tied for the largest deficit overcome to win this season
9 Starts by La'Keisha Sutton needed for her to become just the 11th player in school history to start 100 career games
11 Games in which South Carolina has allowed under 20.0 percent shooting from 3-point range, including both games against Vanderbilt which led the nation in 3-point percentage until this week
16 Games this season in which the Gamecock defense has allowed no more than 55 points, during which South Carolina is 13-3
18 Games in which South Carolina has had a lead at halftime, during which the Gamecocks are 16-2 - losses at LSU and to Kentucky
21.3 Percentage of South Carolina's total points that have come from the 3-point line this season, including the Ole Miss game in which 27 of the team's 61 points (44.3%) came from beyond the arc
23 Career games in which senior guard La'Keisha Sutton has handed out five or more assists, including three this season, during which the Gamecocks are 14-9
25 Gamecocks who have pulled down at least 500 rebound in their careers after senior Charenee Stephens joined the group at Florida (Jan. 8)
29 Total points by which South Carolina has been outscored in its five losses this season, making its average margin of defeat 5.8 points compared to a 19.4-point average margin of victory
Last Time Out
An unusual weapon this season helped South Carolina post a 61-43 victory over Ole Miss Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena as the Gamecocks shot 9-of-18 from 3-point range, including 5-of-7 accuracy from senior guard La'Keisha Sutton. The nine 3s, which including four from senior Markeshia Grant, tied the Gamecocks' season high, which is also the most in the Dawn Staley era.
Mississippi State Series Notes
The Lady Bulldogs lead the series 16-10, although the Gamecocks ended a four-game skid with a 60-53 victory in Starkville last season behind 16 points from guard Ieasia Walker. South Carolina holds a 7-5 edge over Mississippi State in Columbia but have not won a home game against the Lady Bulldogs since a 72-66 overtime decision on Feb. 25, 2007.
Walker has the best career scoring average against the Lady Bulldogs at 13.0 points and has shot 45.8 percent from the field in her two games against them. Senior forward Charenee Stephens averages 7.0 rebounds in her four career games against MSU, including a total of 17 boards over the last two meetings.