Opponent: Arkansas (16-7, 3-7 SEC) Date: Sunday, February 9, 2014, 2 p.m. Site: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) TV:SEC TV (Cara Capuano, pxp; Nell Fortner, analyst); in Columbia WKTC Radio: WNKT 107.5 FM/1320 AM The Fan (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Video:ESPN3 Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Series History: ARK leads 17-11
South Carolina Notables
South Carolina is participating in "Play 4 Kay" Week, wearing special shooting shirts and pink accessories for today's game. The Gamecocks have a larger celebration of the fight against breast cancer, especially that of assistant coach Nikki McCray, planned for their Feb. 23 game against Florida.
Junior forward Aleigsha Welch has tailored her game to a new environment this season, finding new ways to assert herself among her 6-foot-4 teammates inside. Adding range to her jumper and using her athleticism to drive to the rim, she leads the league and ranks fifth in the nation with a .587 field goal percentage while ranking 14th in the SEC in scoring (13.6 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (7.7 rpg).
Eschewing the idea of a sophomore slump, South Carolina leading scorer Tiffany Mitchell has established herself as one of the most versatile players in the SEC this season, earning a spot on the Dawn Staley Award Watch List.
Center Alaina Coates earned her fourth SEC Freshman of the Week honor on Monday. LSU's Danielle Ballard and Georgia's Jasmine James hold the league record with five selections in 2013 and 2010, respectively.
Junior center Elem Ibiam became the new program single-season blocked shots record holder at Mississippi State (Feb. 6), swatting away a career-high seven to lift her single-season total to 63. She broke the record with her fifth an final block of the first half before going on to add two more in the second.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be the Gamecocks' 14th at Colonial Life Arena this season, one shy of the facility record of 15 set in 2006-07.
Be the Gamecocks' fourth-straight over the Razorbacks, the longest South Carolina win streak in the series.
By the Numbers
2 Double-doubles needed by center Alaina Coates to tie the Gamecock freshman record for double-doubles in a season (9 by Kelsey Bone in 2008-09) 2 Games this season in which more than five Gamecocks scored in double figures (Ole Miss, Jan. 30; Missouri, Feb. 2), last accomplished in a game when six hit double digits against Florida A&M on Nov. 29, 2003, and never before in an SEC game 3.8 Assists per SEC game by sophomore Asia Dozier to lead the team and rank ninth in the SEC 6 Gamecocks who have posted (or tied for) a team high in assists at least once this season 7 Blocks by junior center Elem Ibiam at Mississippi State (Feb. 6), the most all-time by a Gamecock in an SEC game and the second-most in any game, tying Lakesha Tolliver's total against UNC Wilmington on Dec. 1, 2007
8 Different Gamecocks who have scored in double figures at least once this season 10 Individual 20-point games this season by the Gamecocks - five by Alaina Coates, three by Tiffany Mitchell two by and Aleighsa Welch 14 School-record blocked shots by the Gamecocks twice this season - vs. Kentucky (Jan. 9) and at Mississippi State (Feb. 6) 40 Points needed by junior forward Aleighsa Welch to reach 1,000 in her career 49 Blocked shots by center Alaina Coates this season, setting a new Gamecock freshman record and tying for seventh in school history 63 Blocks by junior center Elem Ibiam this season, resetting the school single-season record previously held by Lakesha Tolliver (2006-07) - her 110 career blocks rank seventh (record is 177 by Tolliver)
Arkansas Series Notes
The Razorbacks lead the series 17-11 but the Gamecocks have won four of the last five meetings, including each of the last three.
The two teams kicked off SEC action in Fayetteville, Ark., this season with the Gamecocks escaping with a 55-51 victory. The Razorbacks forced a spate of turnovers in the second half to cut into a 12-point halftime lead and force South Carolina to win the game at the free throw line. Sophomore Tiffany Mitchell and freshman Alaina Coates each posted a double-double in the game, and Aleighsa Welch joined them in double-figure scoring.
Arkansas' last win in the series was a 68-47 decision on Feb. 9, 2012, in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks' last win in Columbia was on Feb. 14, 2010, by a 72-68 score.
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 has a group that is designed for offensive efficiency. The Gamecocks are scoring more (75.0 ppg, 49th in nation) and more efficiently (.489 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 47.5 percent of the team's points - and on ball movement creating the best shots as 60.8 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 54.0 points per game.
Talking Top 10
South Carolina is ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press poll this week, the program's highest ranking since coming in at No. 4 the week of Jan. 10, 1982. The Gamecocks' seventh appearance in the top 10 this season surpasses the 2001-02 team's six entries among the nation's 10 best teams and is two weeks shy of matching the 1981-82 Gamecocks who were in it a school-record nine weeks at the start of their season.
Reading the RPI
With a 21-2 record, including an 8-1 mark on the road, the Gamecocks are eighth in the NCAA RPI released on Feb. 3. South Carolina is one of six SEC schools rated in the top 20 - LSU (5), Tennessee (7), Vanderbilt (14), Texas A&M (16), Kentucky (18). The Gamecocks have three of those teams ahead on the schedule - at LSU (Feb. 16), at Kentucky (Feb. 20) and at Tennessee (Mar. 2).
Home Sweet Home
With comprehensive records beginning in the 1976-77 season (the third for women's basketball at South Carolina), the Gamecocks are 375-155 (.708) all-time in games played at home, including a 130-58 mark (.691) in Colonial Life Arena. In the sixth season with head coach Dawn Staley at the helm, South Carolina is 65-25 (.722) at home, including one game at Carolina Coliseum in the 2012-13 season. The Gamecocks have won 51 of their last 62 games played in Colonial Life Arena, including 15 straight.
In its 40th season of women's basketball, South Carolina is 186-142 (.567) all-time in the month of February, including an 18-18 record (.500) in the sixth season of the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks went 4-3 in February each of the last three seasons under Staley and are 2-0 so far this season.
Life in the League
South Carolina is 111-198 (.359) all-time in its 23rd season of SEC regular-season play. The Gamecocks are 70-85 (.452) in SEC games played in Columbia with a 41-113 record (.266) on the road. Under head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks have a 47-41 (.534) SEC record, which includes a 2-12 slate in her first season at the helm. The 36 SEC regular-season victories in the previous four seasons are the best four-year mark for the program.
New Queen on the Block
Junior center Elem Ibiam's seven blocks at Mississippi State (Feb. 6) were not just a career high, but they also broke school records for blocks in a season and blocks in an SEC regular-season. Her 63 swats this season came in just 23 games, compared to previous record-holder Lakesha Tolliver who needed 33 games to get to her 60 in 2006-07. Ibiam's 32 blocks through 10 SEC games is four fewer than it took Tolliver to post 30 in 2006-07. Ibiam is just the ninth Gamecock all-time to record 100 career blocks, currently standing at 110 career blocks, which is seventh in the record book and trails Tollier's career mark of 177.