Feb. 21, 2018
#7/6 South Carolina vs #24/- LSU
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 7/6 South Carolina hosts No.24/- LSU on Senior Night Thursday at Colonial Life Arena. In the final regular-season home game of their careers, seniors Lindsey Spann and A’ja Wilson will take part in a pre-game ceremony at approximately 6:10 p.m., and the Gamecocks (22-5, 11-3 SEC) and Lady Tigers (18-7, 10-4 SEC) will tip off at 6:30 p.m.
Parking in Lots A and B will be pass only, however, public handicap parking in those lots will be $10. Additional private and city lot parking is also $10. Shuttles from the Pendleton and Park Street garages will begin two hours prior to tip-off, and will be $3 roundtrip.
South Carolina Notables
In her lone season as a Gamecock, Lindsey Spann spent the first month leading the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage before injuries interrupted her hot-shooting start. Her six 3s at Clemson (Nov. 16) are the most by any Gamecock this season.
Senior A'ja Wilson has played on three of the Gamecocks' four SEC regular-season championship teams, all three SEC Tournament champions and both NCAA Final Four squads. South Carolina has won 117 of her career 130 games played, and she has scored in double figures in 114 of those 130 contests. Twice the SEC Player of the Year and national player of the year finalist, Wilson holds school records for career blocked shots, free throws made and free throw attempts. Her 18 double-doubles this season are her most in a single season and give her 48 in her career. The only player ranked among the nation's top 30 in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots average, she is among NCAA Div. I's top one percent in those three categories as well as defensive rebounds per game (8.0) and usage rage (35.0%).
The Gamecocks and Lady Tigers face each other as ranked opponents for just the second time in the Staley era. In the first such meeting, #5 South Carolina topped #19 LSU 73-57 in Baton Rouge on Feb. 16, 2014.
By the Numbers
7 Points needed by A'ja Wilson to record 1,000 in SEC regular-season games
7 Consecutive seasons in which South Carolina has recorded double-digit SEC wins and at least 20 total wins
20 Points needed by A'ja Wilson to move into second place in the program's all-time points list (56 to tie the record 2,266)
LSU Series Notes
The Lady Tigers lead the series 22-11, but seven of the Gamecocks' wins have come in the last seven meetings and by an average of 21.4 points. South Carolina is 8-5 against LSU in the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks claimed the most recent meeting, an 84-61 decision on Jan. 15, 2017, in Baton Rouge without eventual SEC Player of the Year A'ja Wilson, who was out with an injury. South Carolina dominated the first half offensively, taking a 49-36 halftime lead before locking down defensively in the second half to allow the Lady Tigers to shoot just 9-of-33 (.273) in the final two periods.
Head coach Dawn Staley has built the Gamecocks into a consistent SEC contender with four straight regular-season titles, shirking decades of difficulty in the nation’s best women’s basketball conference. In her 10th SEC season at the helm, Staley boasts a 108-48 (.692) conference regular-season record and has finished outside the league’s top five just twice – an unprecedented achievement for a program that had finished INSIDE the top five only two times in the previous 17 seasons. Staley’s 108 wins include now seven seasons of double-digit league victories – 10 in 2012; 11 in 2013; 14 in 2014; 15 in 2015; 16 in 2016; 14 in 2017; and 11 in 2018 – and account for 62.8 percent of the program’s all-time 172 league wins. Staley’s SEC regular-season record includes a 58-20 (.740) mark at home and a 50-28 (.641) slate on the road.
The SEC is once again among the best women's basketball conferences in the nation, leading the nation with seven teams among the top 30 in RPI, including South Carolina at 17. All seven are also ranked in the AP Poll this week. Mississippi State has the top RPI in the league in third with Tennessee coming in 10th. Missouri (12), Texas A&M (21), LSU (26) and Georgia (28) are also in the RPI top 30.
Buckets, Boards and Blocks
Few players in the country are as versatile as South Carolina senior forward A’ja Wilson. Averaging 22.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks, she ranks eighth, 12th and fifth in the nation in those categories, respectively, making her the only player in the nation's top 30 in all three of those categories. Only seven players in the nation are among the top 50 in both scoring and rebounding with only Megan Gustafson, Iowa (24.9 ppg, 1st/12.6 rpg, 5th) out-ranking Wilson in both categories. Reading defenses more quickly than before, Wilson has also responded to her head coach’s challenge to expand her skill set, improving her ball-handling to allow her to rebound and immediately start the fast break and even run the offense from the point guard position at times and developing consistency on her outside shot, of which she has hit 5-of-11 from 3-point range. The growth in her game helps both the Gamecocks, as opponents will have a more difficult time locating her for double-teaming, and Wilson’s preparedness for the next step in her basketball career.
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