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Women's Basketball

Gamecock Gameday: No. 6/5 South Carolina Hosts Vanderbilt Thursday
Feb. 15, 2017

Game Information

Date: Thu., Feb. 16, 2017

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)

Tickets: $8 adult, $4 youth (17 and under)

Tipoff: 7 p.m.

Doors Open: 5:30 p.m.

Watch On: SEC Network (Paul Sunderland, play-by-play; Steffi Sorensen, analyst)

Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller)

COLUMBIA, S.C. No. 6/5 South Carolina is back at Colonial Life Arena to host Vanderbilt on Thursday night with just one more home game remaining on the schedule. The Gamecocks (21-3, 11-1 SEC) need just one win in their last four games to ensure a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament in Greenville.

South Carolina Notables

  • Tonight is South Carolina's Pink Out, presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors. The first 4,000 fans at Colonial Life Arena will receive a pink rally towel, and the University of South Carolina chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha will assist with a halftime survivor's walk. Gamecock great and survivor Sheila Foster and the family of assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson, representing her fight against the disease, will close out the walk.
  • Despite Vanderbilt leading the overall series 21-13, the Gamecocks have won seven straight and head coach Dawn Staley is 8-2 against the Commodores in her tenure.
  • Tonight's game features a solid one-on-one battle on the glass with Alaina Coates and Marqu'es Webb are among the league's top five rebounders. Among Webb's 9.0 rebounds per game are 3.5 per game on the offensive end, which ranks third in the SEC. Coates leads the league in overall rebounds (11.7), is second in offensive boards (3.7) and it atop the league in defensive boards (8.0).
  • Four Gamecocks rank among the SEC's top 30 scorers – A'ja Wilson (5th, 17.0 ppg), Alaina Coates (19th, 13.8), Allisha Gray (22nd, 12.9), Kaela Davis (28th, 11.7) – while NO Gamecocks are among the league's top 30 in minutes played.
  • South Carolina leads the SEC with six wins against AP Top-25 teams this season – two more than any other team in the league as Tennessee comes in second with four in seven outings.
  • The Gamecocks' 11 SEC wins this season have come by an average of 20.0 points, while the lone league loss was by just two points.
  • In SEC action, South Carolina leads the SEC in scoring (73.0), field goal percentage (.467) and rebounding margin (+6.9) while coming in second in scoring defense (54.8), field goal percentage defense (.359), rebounding offense (38.8) and rebounding defense (31.8).
  • South Carolina junior forward A'ja Wilson has seven 20-point games this season, already matching her career high mark from last season. She leads the team with 20 double-figure scoring games and has accounted for at least one-quarter of the team's points nine times this season, including four of seven games against ranked opponents.
  • Junior guard Allisha Gray has seen her scoring rise throughout SEC play, but she also contributes in other ways – some intangible like her steady demeanor and willingness to evaluate and deliver whatever the team needs in a specific game. In addition to being the team's third-leading scorer this season, she leads the team in steals (1.5/game), is second on the team in assists at 2.7 per game and ranks fourth in rebounding at 4.5 per outing.
  • Freshman point guard Tyasha Harris got the ultimate endorsement from head coach Dawn Staley when the Olympic great handed her the "keys to the car" as the starting point guard to start SEC play. The freshman's poise and understanding of the game have helped her lead the league's highest-scoring offense and stand sixth in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0).

By the Numbers

2 Career stats in which Alaina Coates leads all active NCAA Div. I players – rebounds (1,210), double-doubles (57)
3.8 Assists per game by freshman point guard Tyasha Harris in SEC play
8 Games this season in which free throws have made up at least 25 percent of the Gamecocks' scoring, including five of the seven games against ranked opponents
14.3 Rebounding average of Alaina Coates over the last three games, during which she also scored 14.2 ppg
63.0 Percent of made field goals in the last three games have were assisted (54 of 81)

Vanderbilt Series Notes

The Commodores lead the series 21-13, but the Gamecocks have won the last seven meetings. South Carolina is 8-8 against Vanderbilt in Columbia, with the tying win coming by an 89-59 score in the Commodores' last visit to Colonial Life Arena on Feb. 15, 2015. The Gamecocks have won their last four home games against Vanderbilt, all by double digits.

In last season's 10-point win in Nashville (71-61, Jan. 7, 2016), the Gamecocks dominated from the 3-point line, hitting 10-of-22 from long range. South Carolina shot 7-of-10 from distance in the second half to shake off a halftime tie en route to the win.

Holding Home Court

The Gamecocks are 418-155 all-time on their home court, including a 176-60 mark in Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina is 111-27 at home during the Dawn Staley era and has lost just twice in its last 63 home games, including undefeated home seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The Gamecocks have won 31 of their last 32 SEC regular-season home games dating back to the 2012-13 season.

Rankings Review

Ranked fourth in this week’s AP Poll, the Gamecocks are in the midst of the nation’s third-longest active top-10 ranking streak (66), trailing just UConn (229) and Notre Dame (122) and well ahead of fourth-place Baylor (50). South Carolina has appeared in the top 25 in each of the last 88 AP Polls.

In the Staley era, South Carolina has collected 51 top-five rankings in the AP Poll, including 42 weeks in the top three and 12 weeks at No. 1.

Tough Tasks

Head coach Dawn Staley did not shy away from a challenging schedule this season, despite having to replace five seniors, including three starters, from last season's squad. The Gamecocks' overall schedule is ranked the sixth-toughest in the nation based on opponent winning percentage (.658).

South Carolina's docket features 19 games against teams that played in the 2016 postseason, including 16 against NCAA Tournament squads.

The slate includes eight games against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 this week, including two against this week's top-10 teams. Just two of those eight games are home games for the Gamecocks.

They're Free, Take Two!

South Carolina ranks among the nation's top 20 in free throws attempted (16th) and made (24th). The Gamecocks average 15.6 made free throws per game, while opponents average just 13.3 attempts.

In nine games this season, at least 25.0 percent of the Gamecocks' points have come from the free throw line, including five of the six wins over nationally ranked opponents. Free throws accounted for a season-high 39.5 percent (30-76) of the Gamecocks' points at #14/15 Texas (Dec. 1).

Blocking Scheme

South Carolina leads the SEC and ranks 14th in the nation with 5.8 blocked shots per game and have blocked double-digit shots twice this season – 11 vs. Clemson (Dec. 15), 10 vs. Alabama (Jan. 1). The two driving forces of that defensive movement are also the program's all-time career blocked shot leaders – A'ja Wilson (217) and Alaina Coates (206).

Wilson broke the program's career blocks record earlier this season (vs. Saint Peter's, Nov. 22) but can hardly celebrate with Coates nipping at her heels. Wilson is third in the SEC and 34th in the nation with 2.2 blocks per game, and Coates is just behind at 1.5 per game for seventh in the league. Freshman Mikiah Herbert Harrigan is following in her frontcourt mentors' footsteps, ranking 12th in the league with 1.2 blocks per game, which includes three games of three or more blocks.




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