March 3, 2018
SEC Tournament Semifinal
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 8/8 South Carolina advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the fifth-straight season with the Gamecocks (24-6) taking on No. 19/18 Georgia (25-5) Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. Among the two stingiest teams in the SEC, the Gamecocks and Lady Bulldogs played earlier this season in Athens, Ga., with South Carolina bringing home a 12-point victory.
CLEAR BAG POLICY
Fans attending the 2018 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament will be asked to enter those events with clear bags and should be prepared to arrive early and to see a law enforcement presence in and around Bridgestone Arena. Click here for more specific information about the league’s policy for the tournament.
South Carolina Notables
Tonight's game is South Carolina's fourth straight against a nationally ranked opponent, during which the Gamecocks are 2-1. South Carolina is 7-6 against ranked opponents so far this season, including a 3-4 mark in away/neutral games. Three Gamecocks average double figures against ranked teams, led by A'ja Wilson's 21.8 points per game.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley challenged her frontcourt to deliver two double-doubles against #12/12 Tennessee Friday night, and her stable of forwards rose to the challenge to score 63 of the Gamecocks' 73 points. Junior Alexis Jennings played her most inspired basketball of the season, posting five points and seven rebounds in the opening quarter en route to her sixth double-double of the season. In just 19 minutes of action, Wilson netted 24 points to go with her 12 rebounds to complete the pair of double-doubles Staley had requested.
Two of the nation's top 10 shot blockers take the court tonight in the form of South Carolina's A'ja Wilson, who has blocked an SEC-best 3.6 shots per game to rank fifth in the nation, and Georgia's Caliya Roberts, who is 10th in the country with 3.1 blocks per game.
Freshman forward LeLe Grissett has been strong on the glass in the last five games, averaging 5.4 rebounds after entering the stretch pulling in just 3.6 per outing. Friday night against #12/12 Tennessee, she tied her season high of nine, including four in the second quarter.
By the Numbers
3 Double-digit scoring games by Mikiah Herbert Harrigan in her last four outings
5 Points needed by A'ja Wilson to tie the school record for career points (2,266)
5 Games in which the Gamecocks scored at least 60.0 percent of their points in the paint, including two of the last three games
10 Consecutive SEC Tournament wins by the Gamecocks
13.8 Rebounds per game by A'ja Wilson against ranked opponents this season
68.7 Percent of South Carolina's made field goals this season that came in the paint
The Georgia Series
Georgia leads the series 33-15, but the Gamecocks have won the last eight meetings, including this season's first meeting in February, three contests last season, and nine of the last 10 border battles. In the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09), South Carolina leads the series 11-6 with at least one team ranked in 14 of those games, including five games in which both teams were ranked. In those five games, the Gamecocks lead 3-2. In the Staley era, the series has been notoriously low scoring with just two games seeing a team score 70 points and four games with neither team reaching 60 points. During this segment of the series, the Gamecocks averaged 57.9 points while the Lady Bulldogs average 54.1 points. The most recent meeting between the border rivals yielded the highest combined score of the series in the Staley era as the Gamecocks took a 77-65 decision in Athens. South Carolina trailed by two at halftime before controlling the third quarter with power in the paint. Ten of the Gamecocks' points in the period came from the free throw line. South Carolina dominated the boards as well, out-rebounding the Lady Bulldogs 47-32 for the game.
With a 7-6 mark this season, South Carolina is 57-51 against nationally ranked opponents under head coach Dawn Staley, although that record is skewed by the early seasons of her tenure as the Gamecocks are 42-12 versus ranked foes since the start of the 2014-15 campaign. South Carolina is 17-8 against top-10 opponents during that time. Senior forward A'ja Wilson leads the Gamecocks against ranked foes, averaging 21.8 points and 13.6 rebounds. Sophomore Tyasha Harris' offense has been especially potent against the nation's best teams as she is second on the team with 11.4 points per game while still averaging 5.8 assists. All three of her 20-point games have come against ranked teams, including her season-high 28 against #6/6 Tennessee (Jan. 14).
Heart of a Champion
Among A'ja Wilson's 27 games played this season are 13 in which the margin was under 10 in the fourth quarter – at #15/13 Maryland (Nov. 13), vs. Rutgers (Nov. 24), vs. #6/6 Notre Dame (Nov. 26), #22/21 Texas A&M (Dec. 31), at Ole Miss (Jan. 4), at #15/15 Missouri (Jan. 8), Auburn (Jan. 11), #11/11 Missouri (Jan. 28), at #2/2 Mississippi State (Feb. 5), Florida (Feb. 11), at #20/19 Georgia (Feb. 15), #24/- LSU (Feb. 22) and vs. #12/12 Tennessee (Mar. 2). In those games, fans saw the senior forward step up to show why she impacts the game more than any player in the nation. In the fourth quarter of those 13 games, Wilson averaged 7.2 points on 54.7 percent shooting to go with 3.6 rebounding, 1.0 block and 0.8 assist averages.
2 for 30
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has had to rely heavily on a handful of players this season due to the injuries and youth of her squad. The result is two Gamecocks – Tyasha Harris (32.9) and Doniyah Cliney (30.6) – averaging more than 30 minutes per game. No Gamecock has finished a season logging more than 30 minutes per game since Tiffany Mitchell in 2015-16, and the last time TWO Gamecocks hit the mark was 2013-14 (Mitchell and Aleighsa Welch).
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