Date: Thursday, February 24, 2011 Time: 7 p.m. (CT) Location: Baton Rouge, La. Arena: Pete Maravich Assembly Center (13,472) Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com LSU Series: LSU leads 20-4; In Baton Rouge: LSU leads 10-1; In Columbia: LSU leads 10-2; At Neutral Site: SC leads 1-0
South Carolina Notables
The Gamecocks have won seven of their last 10 games, falling to just Tennessee (twice) and at Auburn. Since dropping the game at Auburn, South Carolina is 2-1 on the road.
South Carolina's 15.9 turnovers per game are the lowest since the 1995-96 squad turned it over just 15.7 times per game. The Gamecocks' current average is 54th-lowest in the nation and second-best in the SEC (LSU is 24th with 14.6).
South Carolina's two-point win over LSU earlier this season was the closest game in the 20-year history of the series. The previous low was a three-point margin in two games (Feb. 4, 2007 and Feb. 6, 2003) that both went to the Lady Tigers.
In SEC play, junior guard La'Keisha Sutton's scoring and assists have generated 33.3 percent of the team's points - 10.7 ppg by her and 8.9 ppg by teammates from her assists.
In SEC games, sophomore guard Ieasia Walker is ranked among the league's top 10 in points per game (8th, 13.4) and steals per game (3rd, 2.8). She is one of just four players to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
Through games of Feb. 21, South Carolina's strength of schedule is ranked 18th in the nation. In the SEC, only Tennessee (4) is rated higher. Through games of Feb. 20, the Gamecocks had an RPI of 41, which is fifth-highest in the league, trailing Tennessee (2), Kentucky (19), Georgia (23) and Vanderbilt (28).
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be its ninth SEC win of the season, the program's most since the 2002-03 squad finished 9-5 in league play.
Be its 17th of the season, the most since the 2006-07 squad posted an 18-15 overall record.
Be its second straight over LSU, the first time the Gamecocks topped the Lady Tigers in back-to-back games since logging wins on Jan. 2, 1993, and Jan. 15, 1994.
By the Numbers 1 Gamecocks who have started every game this season - Jewel May 6 Games this season in which junior guard La'Keisha Sutton's points and assists have accounted for at least 40 percent of the team's total points - Xavier, Charleston Southern, South Carolina State, Florida, Arkansas, Auburn 7 SEC games in which South Carolina's defense has yielded less than 60 points in regulation time (Arkansas'2 62 came in overtime; it scored 55 in regulation) 19 Games in which sophomore guard Ieasia Walker has scored 10 or more points (during which the Gamecocks are 12-7), including 12 of 14 SEC games 24 Games in which the Gamecocks have held their opponent below its scoring average, during which South Carolina has a 16-8 record 15.0 Points per game for senior guard Valerie Nainima over two games last week, during which she hit 7-of-12 (.583) from 3-point range 15.9 Turnovers per game by the Gamecocks, who rank 55th (fewest) in the nation and second in the SEC (behind LSU's 14.5) in the category .529 Field goal percentage of junior guard La'Keisha Sutton during the last two minutes of games this season, the highest on the team, during which she also has scored the most points (33) .750 South Carolina's free throw percentage in the last two minutes of games this season, compared to its .603 percentage prior to that
The LSU Series
The Lady Tigers lead the series 20-4 after South Carolina snapped a 14-game losing streak to LSU with a 63-61 win at Colonia Life Arena earlier this season. Five Gamecocks reached double-figure points in that game, led by Markeshia Grant's 12 points. South Carolina overcame an 18-point deficit midway through the first half and a seven-point margin at halftime to take the game down to the wire. The final five minutes saw two ties and five lead changes as South Carolina sealed the win with clutch free throw shooting.
South Carolina has won just one of the 11 all-time meetings in Baton Rouge - a 90-82 outcome on Jan. 15, 1994.
Living in the League
Including an 8-6 mark this season, South Carolina is 81-184 in SEC games since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. The Gamecocks are 53-80 in regular-season SEC games played in Columbia and 28-104 in SEC games on the road. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley boasts a 116-52 career record in league play, including eight seasons leading her Temple team to a 99-25 Atlantic 10 record. She is 17-27 in her third season in the SEC.
The most SEC wins South Carolina has recorded in a season is 10, which helped the 2001-02 squad into a tie for second place in the league standings. This season's eight victories are the most since the 2002-03 team won nine times in a 14-game schedule.
South Carolina has a 179-229 (.439) all-time record on the road. The Gamecocks' best season on the road was 1979-80 when they went 11-4. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 10-20 in road games. In her 11th season as a head coach, Staley has a 72-66 road record.
Figuring Out February
The Gamecocks are 176-134 (.568) all-time in the month of February, including a 100-37 (.730) record at home. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 8-11 in the second month of the year. The Gamecocks went 1-5 in Staley's first year at the helm (2008-09), were 3-5 last season and are 4-1 so far this February.
South Carolina has had little trouble playing from the front this season, posting a 14-2 record in games it has led at halftime. The lone losses were at UC Davis (Nov. 28) and at then-No. 19 Kentucky. The Gamecocks are 0-1 when tied at halftime, dropping the game against Florida in the final 16 seconds. In the three seasons since Dawn Staley took over the program, South Carolina is 32-8 after leading at halftime and 2-4 when tied at the midway point.
Five for Fighting
After a non-conference season that saw just one game decided by 10 or fewer points, South Carolina has experienced much tighter games in SEC play. In fact, the closer the better for the Gamecocks who are 4-1 in SEC games decided by five or fewer points, compared to 4-5 in league games settled by six or more points. In the Dawn Staley era (2008-09 to present), the Gamecocks are 12-11 in five-point or closer games (4-1 this season), 9-10 when the scoring margin is between six and 10 points (2-3 this season), 15-15 in games decided by 11 to 20 points (8-3 this season) and 4-8 in games settled by more than 20 points (2-4 this season).
Three, It's a Magic Number
As Schoolhouse Rock professed many years ago, three appears to be a magical number for the Gamecocks, who are 10-2 this season when three players score double figures. That record includes a 5-1 mark in SEC action and improves to 12-2 when expanded to include games with more than three players in double figures. On the other side, South Carolina is just 4-9 when fewer than three players reach the 10-point plateau.
Regular members of the triumverate are the Gamecocks' leading scorers - Ieasia Walker and La'Keisha Sutton - who account for one of the double-figure scorers in each of the 14 games with three or more 10-point contributors. In fact, both names appear on the list in seven of the 14 games. An impressive part of the stat is that five different players have completed the group for those seven outings - Marah Strickland (4), Ashley Bruner (2), Markeshia Grant (2), Charenee Stephens (1) and Valerie Nainima (1).
Help Thy Neighbor
With arguably the best point guard in international women's basketball history at the helm, South Carolina has been at its best when its assist numbers are highest. In the Dawn Staley era (2008-09 through present), the Gamecocks are 29-15 when handing out 10 or more assists, including a 13-5 mark this season. When missing the 10-assist plateau, South Carolina is just 11-29 overall with Staley, including a 4-18 mark in SEC action. Those records include this season's 3-6 overall slate and 2-3 ledger in league play.
Heavenly at 70, Successful at 60
The Gamecocks are 13-3 this season when scoring at least 60 points, including a perfect 3-0 mark when reaching the 70-point plateau. South Carolina is 3-8 when scoring fewer than 60.
In the Dawn Staley era (2008-09 to present), the Gamecocks are 14-3 when scoring 70 or more points. The team is just 10-29 when falling short of the 60-point mark and is 16-12 when scoring between 60 and 69 points.
The South Carolina defense has held 24 of its last 26 opponents below their season scoring averages (excludes season opener against Xavier), against whom the Gamecocks are 16-8. Only Stanford (Nov. 26) and Tennessee (Feb. 17) managed to reach their averages. On average, South Carolina has held its opponents 10.9points below their season average entering the game.
In the last eight games, five opponents have recorded more than 10 points below their average, including then-#20/24 Georgia (-20.2) and then-#15/18 Kentucky (-13.2).
Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive
Since head coach Dawn Staley took the reins prior to the 2008-09 season, the Gamecocks have been most successful when they are aggressive on the offensive end. Under Staley, South Carolina is 28-19 when it attempts more free throws than 3-poiners, including a 9-4 mark this season. In the last three seasons, the Gamecocks are 28-14 when attempting more free throws than their opponent, including a 14-4 mark this season.
Averaging 10.7 points in league play, junior guard La'Keisha Sutton has made just as much impact on the Gamecocks offense with her passing. She is fifth in the league in assists per conference contest (3.6) and is ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1). Through 14 SEC games, Sutton accounts for 19.6 points per game via her own scoring and her assists (8.9 ppg). That's 33.3 percent of the team's total scoring (58.7 ppg).
Overall this season, Sutton is second on the team and 28th in the SEC in scoring at 10.3 points per game. Her 3.7 assists per game are good for seventh in the league, and she has a 1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio to rank 11th. She has scored in double figures 13 times this season, including eight SEC contests, and has handed out four or more assists 15 times, including seven league outings. Sutton's .418 field goal percentage this season is the highest among the team's guards.