Date: Thursday, February 23, 2012 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Lexington, Ky. Arena: Memorial Coliseum (8,000) TV: None Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton); GamecocksOnline.com Kentucky Series: UK leads 29-18; In Lexington: UK leads 17-5; In Columbia: SC leads 13-9; At Neutral Site: UK leads 3-0
South Carolina Notables
South Carolina has won nine SEC games for the just the third time in its 21 seasons in the league. The program has posted eight or more SEC wins just four times with two of those coming in the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks won a school-record 10 SEC games in 2002.
The Gamecocks are 17-0 this season (8-0 SEC) when scoring at least 60 points. Leaving them 3-7 overall (1-5 SEC) when failing to hit that mark.
Freshman Aleighsa Welch will not play tonight due to a right knee sprain suffered in the second half of Sunday's game at Alabama. She may return to the court as soon as Sunday's regular-season finale against Arkansas.
South Carolina's trio of starting guards has scored 61.5 percent of the team's points over the last five games. When factoring in their assists (and excluding the baskets on which they assisted each other), the backcourt combination has had a hand in 75.1 percent of the team's 60.2 points per game over the last five outings.
Senior forward Charenee Stephens and senior guard La'Keisha Sutton have established themselves among the program's best, especially in the SEC era. Stephens stands 23rd in school history with 559 career rebounds. That number ranks her 11th among the Gamecocks who played any part of their careers in the SEC. Sutton is one of just 11 Gamecocks to score 1,000 points while handing out 300 assists in her career and just the sixth to do so during the program's SEC era. Sutton is currently 13th in career assists (336) and 19th in career points (1,200).
A South Carolina Win Would...
Give the Gamecocks 21 regular-season wins for the first time since the 2002-03 team carried a 21-6 record into postseason play.
Be the Gamecocks' 10th SEC win of the season, which would tie the 2001-02 team for the most in school history.
Be the Gamecocks' ninth road win of the season, the program's most since the 1987-88 team turned in nine victories in their 15 road outings (both numbers exclude neutral site games). The school record for road wins is 11 set by the 1981-82 and 1979-80 teams.
Be the Gamecocks' fifth SEC win on the road this season, making it the most in South Carolina's 21-year history in the league. The Gamecocks have posted four league road wins four times prior to this season's effort.
By the Numbers
3 Rebounds needed by senior Charenee Stephens to move into 22nd place in career boards in South Carolina history
3 Starts needed by La'Keisha Sutton this season to become just the 11th Gamecock to start 100 games in her career
4 Wins in the Gamecocks' six SEC games decided by five or fewer points - at Florida (Jan. 8), at Vanderbilt (Jan. 22), at Tennessee (Feb. 2) and Florida (Feb. 12)
5 Games of scoring 20 or more points for senior guard Markeshia Grant this season, the first of her career
7 Times in history that a Gamecock has finished the season averaging at least 3.8 assists in SEC games, which is the current average of junior guard Ieasia Walker
8 Games this season that junior guard Ieasia Walker has handed out five or more assists, including four of the last seven, during which the Gamecocks are 6-2
12 Games in which freshman forward Aleighsa Welch has led the team in rebounding, 11 of which were victories
14 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
18 Games this season in which the Gamecock defense held its opponent to no more than 55 points, during which South Carolina is 15-3
29 Total points by which South Carolina was outscored in its five losses this season prior to falling at Arkansas (Feb. 9) by 21 points
55.6 Percent field goal shooting at Alabama, the Gamecocks' highest of the season and the second highest of the Dawn Staley era
75.1 Percent of team's 60.2 points per game over the last five outings that have been scored or assisted by one of the three starting guards - Markeshia Grant, La'Keisha Sutton and Ieasia Walker
Last Time Out
South Carolina shot a season-high 55.6 percent from the field en route to a 69-55 win at Alabama Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks overcame 21 turnovers and Alabama's 22 offensive rebounds with its most efficient shooting game of the season, including hitting 62.5 percent in the second half. All three starting guards scored in double figures, led by La'Keisha Sutton's 13 points, all coming in the second half. She also led the way on the glass with seven rebounds, which tied her career high.
Kentucky Series Notes
The Wildcats lead the series 29-18, but the teams have split their two annual meetings each of the last two seasons. To continue that trend, South Carolina will have to buck another one as Kentucky won the first matchup this season and holds a 17-5 edge over the Gamecocks in Lexington. South Carolina's last win on the Wildcats' home court was a 65-57 decision on March 2, 2008, in Rupp Arena on Senior Day.
Kentucky scored a 66-58 win over the Gamecocks in the first meeting this season (Jan. 15). South Carolina had three players in double-figure points and out-rebounded the Wildcats 40-30, but could not overcome a season-high 29 turnovers in the outing.
The Gamecocks' most recent win in the series was a 66-61 victory over then-No. 15 Kentucky on Feb. 10, 2011. A trio of guards the led offense in that outing as La'Keisha Sutton and Ieasia Walker each netted 17 points and Markeshia Grant added 12. Grant also tied for team-high honors on the glass with eight rebounds as South Carolina out-rebounded the Wildcats 37-32 and forced 18 Kentucky turnovers.
Rating the Ranked
South Carolina is 54-191 against nationally ranked teams in its 38th season of women's basketball. The Gamecocks have collected 29 of those 54 wins in Columbia, including 11 in Colonial Life Arena.
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 Dawn Staley era, the highest ranked team the Gamecocks have defeated was at then-No. 8 Tennessee on Feb. 9, 2012, by a score of 64-60.
In the last three seasons South Carolina has defeated a nationally ranked team nine times in 27 outings, including this year's 4-3 record.