Date: Sunday, February 24, 2012 Time: 3 p.m. Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 & under) Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Video:GamecocksOnline.com (Free) Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com MSU Series: MSU leads 16-12; In Columbia: SC leads 8-5; In Starkville: MSU leads 9-4; Neutral Site: MSU leads 2-0
South Carolina has rediscovered its offense in the month of February, averaging 61.6 points on 40.2 percent field goal shooting, and free throw shooting skyrocketed to 61.8 percent in the five games this month. Aleighsa Welch and Ashley Bruner averaged 11.6 points with four other Gamecocks netting at least seven points per game. The effort has been helped by 12.0 assists per game (compared to 10.0 in the 21 games prior).
Senior forward Ashley Bruner averaged a double-double last week and has posted double-digit points and rebounds in three of the last four games. Her five this season matches her previous career total.
Senior guard Ieasia Walker is tied for second on the team with 6.0 rebounds per game in the month of February, including and average of 2.0 on the offensive end. She entered the stretch of five games averaging 3.6 rebounds.
Assistant coach Nikki McCray returns to the bench today after taking maternity leave following the birth of her son on Feb. 1.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has been named one of 12 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013. Finalists must receive 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Hall. The Class of 2013 will be announced on April 8 prior to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.
Injury Update: Sophomore center Elem Ibiam is probable following surgery on Fri., Feb. 15, to repair her broken nose, suffered in practice on Feb. 6. Guards Tina Roy and Tiffany Davis are out for the season following knee surgeries.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be the Gamecocks' 10th SEC win of the season, matching last season's mark (and that of the 2001-02 team) for the most in program history
Be the Gamecocks' fourth straight over Mississippi State and complete the regular-season sweep of the Bulldogs.
By the Numbers 1 Game this season in which head coach Dawn Staley has changed the starting lineup - at Ole Miss, Khadijah Sessions started instead of Tiffany Mitchell 2 Entries by sophomore Aleighsa Welch in the Gamecocks' all-time top six in single-season offensive rebounds, including this season's entry of 107 among the top four 3 Double-doubles by senior forward Ashley Bruner in the last four games, giving her four on the season and 10 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 6 SEC games this season in which the South Carolina defense has allowed 48 or fewer points (16 total for the season) 12 RPI for South Carolina, placing them among five SEC teams in the top 15 18 Gamecocks all-time who have collected 600 career rebounds since senior forward Ashley Bruner joined the group on Feb. 3 at Alabama - her 634 career rebounds are 15th in school history (54 behind Iva Sliskovic in 14th) 16 Of the last 26 Associated Press polls that have included the Gamecocks, dating back to Jan. 9, 2012
36 Regular-season SEC wins among the program's 100 that have come in the last five seasons under head coach Dawn Staley 56.0 Percent field goal shooting by South Carolina at No. 9/7 Kentucky (Feb. 14), the second-highest mark of the Dawn Staley era 75.3 Percent of the team's 1,569 points this season scored by the starting lineup
The Mississippi State Series
The Bulldogs hold a 16-12 edge in the series but have not defeated the Gamecocks since Feb. 11, 2010. South Carolina stretched its win streak to three with a 60-46 victory in Starkville on Jan. 6 and is looking for its second-straight win over the Bulldogs in Columbia. The last meeting at Colonial Life Arena, on Jan. 19, 2012, ended in a 69-43 Gamecock victory.
South Carolina has an 8-5 advantage over Mississippi State in games played in Columbia. The Bulldogs' last win on the Gamecocks' home court was that narrow 55-53 decision on Feb. 11, 2010.
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.
South Carolina won a school-record 23 regular-season games during the 1979-80 season. The Gamecocks finished that season with a 30-6 record and ranked No. 4 in the nation.
Staley now has eight 20-win seasons on her coaching resume. She reached the plateau during the regular season in five of those seasons, including the 2004-05 effort during which her Temple Owls went 24-3 in the regular season before finishing 28-4.
Home Sweet Home
South Carolina is in its 11th season at Colonial Life Arena and enjoys a 115-58 (.665) record in that time. Overall, the Gamecocks are 360-155 (.699) all-time in home games. Head coach Dawn Staley has amassed a 50-25 (.667) home record in her fifth season at the helm.
Rendering the RPI
With a 20-5 record, including 10 wins away from home, the Gamecocks are 12th in the NCAA RPI released on Feb. 18. South Carolina is one of five SEC schools rated among the top 15.
The Gamecocks' strength of schedule ranks in the top 20, playing six games against teams ranked in the top 25 - then-No. 1/1 Stanford (Dec. 19), then-No. 12/13 Tennessee (Jan. 3), 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 (Feb. 7) and on the road against No. 9/7 Kentucky (Feb. 14).
South Carolina has won 19 of the 20 games this season in which it has taken a lead into the locker room at halftime. In head coach Dawn Staley's fifth season at the helm, South Carolina is 77-14 (.846) after leading at halftime and 3-5 (.375) when tied at the game's midway point.
Locking It Down
South Carolina has held an opponent to 48 or fewer points 16 times this season, already exceeding last season's school record of 14. In program history, the Gamecocks have lost just one of the 127 games in which they held an opponent to 48 or fewer points - 40-42 at Georgia on Jan. 13, 2013.