Date: Thursday, February 2, 2012 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Knoxville, Tenn. Arena: Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) TV: CSS (Matt Stewart and Joe Ciampi); ESPN3 Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Tennessee Series: UT leads 42-1; In Knoxville: UT leads 20-0; In Columbia: UT leads 18-1; At Neutral Site: UT leads 4-0
South Carolina Notables
South Carolina has won six SEC games for just the eighth time in its 21 years in the league. Three of those eight times have been under head coach Dawn Staley. The most SEC games the Gamecocks have ever won is 10 in 2001-02.
South Carolina's defense, rated second in the nation in points allowed (47.5), has held an opponent to 48 or fewer points 11 times this season, including four SEC foes - Alabama (42), Florida (44), Ole Miss (43) and Mississippi State (43). The 11 games ties the school-record mark of the 2005-06 team.
South Carolina has had a huge scoring boon in its current three-game win streak as the Gamecocks averaged 65.0 points over stretch. The key has been efficiency of offense. South Carolina has shot 41.1 percent from the field, including 36.7 percent from 3-point range, in the last three games after entering the Vanderbilt game shooting 36.5 percent overall and 25.9 percent from long range in SEC action. The Gamecocks were scoring just 56.2 points per game in league play prior to the start of this streak.
While turning the high-scoring duties over to her hot-shooting backcourt mates the last three games, junior Ieasia Walker has averaged 5.3 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 lead in assists both overall (3.0) and per SEC outing (3.3).
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be the Gamecocks' fourth straight in SEC play, making it the program's longest league win streak since the 2005-06 team picked up four straight Feb. 12-23, 2006.
Give the Gamecocks an 18-5 record on the season, the program's best since the 2001-02 team was 20-3 en route a spot in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight.
Be the Gamecocks' seventh 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 seven or more league games just three times in the 17 seasons prior to her arrival.
By the Numbers
2 Statistical categories in which South Carolina is among the top two in the nation - scoring defense (2nd, 47.5 ppg allowed) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (1st, 20.1 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 (6.3), Ieasia Walker (4.8), Charenee Stephens (4.7) and Sancheon White (4.2)>br?
5 Categories in which South Carolina ranks among the SEC's top two 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 Road wins for the Gamecocks this season, the most since the 1990-91 team went 6-4 in true road games (excluding neutral sites)
8 Starts needed by La'Keisha Sutton to become just the 11th player in school history to start 100 career games
12 Games in which South Carolina has allowed under 20.0 percent shooting from 3-point range, including five games of not allowing a single made 3-pointer
13 Assists handed out by junior guard Ieasia Walker over the last two games, which moved her into sixth in the SEC with 3.3 assists per league contest
17 Games this season in which the Gamecock defense has allowed no more than 55 points, during which South Carolina is 14-3
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
25 Gamecocks who have pulled down at least 500 rebounds 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 19.8-point average margin of victory
66.7 Percent shooting from 3-point range for senior guard La'Keisha Sutton over the last three games (10-of-15)
Last Time Out
Senior guards La'Keisha Sutton and Markeshia Grant led the offense for the second-straight game, pacing the Gamecocks to a 59-43 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon. South Carolina's defense and defensive rebounding kept the Lady Bulldogs on their heels, especially in the second half when the Gamecocks 16 defensive boards into 13 fast break points. South Carolina shot a season-high 49.1 percent from the field while allowing Mississippi State to hit just 30.6 percent.
Tennessee Series Notes
The Lady Vols have won all but one of the 43 meetings between the two programs. South Carolina's lone win over the Lady Vols was a 56-52 decision on Jan. 23, 1980 in Columbia.
Of the current Gamecocks, junior guard Ieasia Walker has had the most scoring success against the Lady Vols, scoring 12.0 points per game over her four career outings versus Tennessee while also swiping 1.8 steals per contest. She led the team with 24 points and eight rebounds, including six on the offensive end, in last year's matchup in Columbia. Walker posted 16 points and a seven rebounds, both team highs, along with three steals in the last game in Knoxville.
South Carolina has a 185-233 (.443) 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 16-24 in road games. In her 11th season as a head coach, Staley has a 78-70 road record.
The Gamecocks are 6-3 on the road so far this season, making it the first season South Carolina has won more than five true road games since the 1990-91 squad went 6-4.
Life in the League
South Carolina is 87-189 all-time in its 21st season SEC regular-season play. The Gamecocks are 57-82 in SEC games played in Columbia with a 30-107 record on the road. The Gamecocks are 21-20 in conference play since head coach Dawn Staley's first season in the league yielded a 2-12 mark. The most SEC wins in the Staley era was last season's eight. Overall, Staley boasts a 122-57 record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple teams to a 99-25 Atlantic 10 mark.
Figuring Out February
The Gamecocks are 176-136 (.564) all-time in the month of February, including a 100-38 (.725) record at home. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 8-13 in the second month of the year. The Gamecocks went 1-5 in Staley's first year at the helm (2008-09), were 3-5 in 2009-10 and posted a 4-3 record last season. The Gamecocks seven games slated for this February.
Rating the Ranked
South Carolina is 53-190 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 Gamecocks are 16-100 all-time against teams ranked in the AP top 10 with their last win over a top-10 team coming in a 71-52 decision over then-No. 6 Vanderbilt on Jan. 3, 2002, in Columbia. South Carolina was ranked No. 14 in the nation at the time.
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 eight times in 25 outings, including this year's 3-2 record.