Date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Lexington, Ky. Arena: Memorial Coliseum (8,000) Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Kentucky Series: UK leads 30-19; In Lexington: UK leads 18-5; In Columbia: SC leads 14-9; Neutral Site: UK leads 3-0
After hosting its own Pink Game on Sunday, South Carolina will take part in Kentucky's effort to raise awareness for breast cancer research but wearing pink accessories in the game. The Gamecock
While assistant coach Nikki McCray is on maternity leave following the birth of her son on Feb. 1, director of basketball operations Cynthia Jordan will be the Gamecocks' third assistant coach. There is no definitive timeline for McCray's return to the bench.
Through 24 games, the Gamecock defense has allowed just one opponent to score 60 or more points in a game to rank third in the country in scoring defense. South Carolina is allowing just 47.8 points per game, including just 50.5 points per SEC contest. No Gamecock opponents has scored its season average entering the game, and only four have come within 10 points of their season average. Seven have been held 30 or more points below their average, including two SEC opponents on their own home courts.
Senior guard Ieasia Walker leads the SEC with 3.0 steals per league game this season. She is second overall at 2.8 steals per contest. Walker has swiped five ore more steals in a game six times this season, including three against SEC opponents (at Georgia, LSU, at Arkansas).
Freshman guard Khadijah Sessions is the highest-scoring Gamecock off the bench this season, averaging 16.9 minutes per SEC game. In league play, she has posted 5.6 points per game, including a 7.4 scoring average over the last five outings.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be the Gamecocks' 100th regular-season SEC victory.
Be the Gamecocks' second straight over the Wildcats, making it the first consecutive wins over Kentucky since South Carolina won four straight from Jan. 20, 2002 through Feb. 27, 2003.
By the Numbers 1 Opponent that has scored 60 or more points against the Gamecocks this season, helping South Carolina to No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense 2 Seasons in which sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch has compiled at least 100 offensive rebounds, making her one of three Gamecocks all-time to reach the single-season mark multiple time in her career 4 20-win seasons for South Carolina since joining the SEC for the 1991-92 season, including this season, which is the second consecutive 20-win effort under head coach Dawn Staley 18 Gamecocks all-time who have collected 600 career rebounds since senior forward Ashley Bruner joined the group on Feb. 3 at Alabama - she is two rebounds shy of Beth Hunt in 17th place 14 RPI for South Carolina - one of six SEC teams among the top 40 15 Of the last 25 Associated Press polls that have included the Gamecocks, dating back to Jan. 9, 2012 17 Wins by South Carolina over a team ranked in the Associated Press top 10 in school history, including four on the road and one in the Dawn Staley era
The Kentucky Series
The Wildcats lead the series 30-19 after the Gamecocks' 55-50 win on Jan. 24 at Colonial Life Arena. Kentucky holds an 18-5 advantage over South Carolina in games played in Lexington with the Gamecocks' last victory coming in a 65-57 decision on March 2, 2008, at Rupp Arena.
Since Dawn Staley was named head coach prior to the 2008-09 season, South Carolina has won every third game against the Wildcats. The last four games have been decided by an average of 5.3 points with the largest margin at eight in the 66-58 Kentucky win at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 15, 2012.
In this season's first meeting, South Carolina's defense held the Wildcats nearly 30 points below their season average while senior guard Ieasia Walker poured in 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals, playing every second of the contest.
With a win at Alabama (Feb. 7), South Carolina posted its second-consecutive 20-win season. In now 39 seasons of women's basketball, the Gamecocks have compiled 12 seasons of 20 or more victories. Four of those have come while playing in the SEC (since 1991-92 season), and two of those are under current head coach Dawn Staley.
The Gamecocks are 194-232 (.455) all-time in games on enemy territory, including a 19-27 (.413) mark under head coach Dawn Staley.
Rendering the RPI
With a 20-4 record, including nine wins away from home, the Gamecocks are 14th in the NCAA RPI released on Feb. 11. South Carolina is one of six SEC schools rated among the top 40 with five others coming inside the top 100.
The Gamecocks' strength of schedule ranks in the top 20, playing five teams currently ranked in the top 25 - then-No. 1/1 Stanford (Dec. 19), then-No. 12/13 Tennessee, at then-No. 13/12 Georgia (Jan. 13), home against then-No. 5/4 Kentucky (Jan. 24) and then-No. 14/16 Texas A&M and on the road against No. 9/7 Kentucky.
Seniors Ieasia Walker and Ashley Bruner rank among the most active Gamecocks in program history. Walker's 121 career games played is one short of making the program's top 10, while Bruner's 119 are three away. With at least six games left on the schedule, Walker has a chance to move into the top five, and Bruner could reach the top six. The school record is 134 held by Sheila Foster, who played 1978-82. With five regular-season SEC games remaining, Walker could become the record holder as she has played in 59 so far and La'Keisha Sutton holds the record at 62.
Walker's 94 career starts leave her six shy of becoming the 12th Gamecock to record at least 100. Her 43 regular-season SEC starts is already a school record. She is five minutes away from tying the 3,398 of Kelly Morrone (2000-04) for 10th in school history in career minutes played.
Five for Fighting
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has used the same starting lineup in every game this season, and the quintet led the way to the program's best non-conference record and the best SEC start since 2001-02. Starters - Ieasia Walker, Sancheon White, Tiffany Mitchell, Ashley Bruner and Aleighsa Welch - account for 76.2 percent of the offense and 69.4 percent of rebounds while playing 73.3 percent of the minutes available. Four of the five average at least 9.0 points. The four reserves available have out-scored their counterparts on the opposite bench 13 times this season, during which the Gamecocks are 12-1.