March 4, 2018
SEC Tournament Final
COLUMBIA, S.C. — For third-straight season South Carolina and Mississippi State will face off the SEC Tournament championship. The No. 8/8 Gamecocks (25-6, 12-4 SEC) have won 11 of the last 12 against the No. 2/2 Bulldogs (32-0, 16-0), but Mississippi State snapped that 11-game skid to South Carolina with a win in February.
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
Three-time reigning SEC Tournament champion South Carolina is making its fourth-straight SEC championship game appearance today, marking just the third time in SEC history that a team has reached the title games that many consecutive seasons. LSU played in four straight 2005-08 without winning a title. Tennessee advanced to five straight title games (1988-92), taking home three of those trophies. No team has one four straight SEC Tournament titles.
2017 SEC Tournament MVP A'ja Wilson has led the Gamecocks to 11 consecutive wins at the SEC Tournament, averaging 15.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in just 25.4 minutes per game while shooting 58.7 percent. So far in this season's event, she has posted 22.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game on 68.0 percent shooting.
The Gamecocks shot 56.5 percent against #19/18 Georgia in the semifinals – the first time South Carolina shot at least 50.0 percent from the field against a nationally ranked opponent since hitting 50.8 percent against #14/15 Duke (Dec. 3).
Sophomore forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan has thrived in the SEC Tournament in her career, especially on the offensive end. A career 5.9 points per game scorer, she has netted 11.4 points per SEC Tournament game over the last two seasons, shooting 68.6 percent from the field to go with 5.0 rebounds per game.
By the Numbers
4 Gamecocks averaging double-figure points in this season's SEC Tournament – Wilson (22.5), Herbert Harrigan (14.5), Jennings (13.0) and Cliney (10.0)
7 Consecutive 25-win seasons for the Gamecocks
8.0 Rebounds per SEC Tournament game by Alexis Jennings
51 Career double-doubles by A'ja Wilson, which ranks 11th in SEC history
70.8 Percent of games against top-10 opponents that the Gamecocks have won during A'ja Wilson's four-year career
75.7 Percent of the Gamecocks points in the SEC Tournament scored by the team's four primary forwards
The Mississippi State Series
South Carolina leads the series 20-17 after Mississippi State snapped its 11-game win streak with a 67-53 win in Starkville a month ago. Both teams have been ranked in the top 20 in each of the last seven meetings, with the higher ranked team winning six of the seven contests. Over the seven games against Mississippi State in her career, senior forward A'ja Wilson averages 18.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks, leading her team to a 6-1 record during the stretch.
Location, Location, Location
The Gamecock frontcourt simply reloaded this season, and South Carolina averages 38.7 points in the paint this season, making up 50.6 percent of its offense. In fact, 68.4 percent of the team’s made field goals this season have come in the paint. The Gamecocks are out-pacing their opponents in that space by 11.3 points per game, and their interior advantage has been at least 20 points six times, including twice with a season-high 48 – against Alabama State (Nov. 10) and Western Carolina (Nov. 30). Only seven games have seen South Carolina out-scored in the paint this season – vs. #6/6 Notre Dame (Nov. 26) 58-42, at #15/15 Missouri (Jan. 7) 28-34, #6/6 Tennessee (Jan. 14) 36-44, #11/11 Missouri (Jan. 28) 18-26, #1/1 UConn (Feb. 1) 24-36, at #20/19 Georgia 38-32 and at #15/14 Tennessee (Feb. 25) 22-48 – with five of those yielding losses. South Carolina's starting frontcourt – whatever the combination has been (Jennings/Wilson, Jennings/Herbert Harrigan or Jennings/Grissett) has accounted for 43.9 percent of the Gamecocks' scoring this season, averaging a combined 33.6 points per game.
Junior guard Doniyah Cliney is the player Staley has marked as a “stat stuffer” because her versatility and athleticism allow her to impact the game in so many ways. Any single number may not jump off the box score, but she will contribute to nearly all of them. So far this season, Cliney averages 8.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals. She has 11 double-figure scoring games, including five against ranked opponents (12 vs. #6/6 Notre Dame, 16 vs. #22/21 Texas A&M, 10 at #2/2 Mississippi State, 14 at #15/14 Tennessee, 14 vs. #19/18 Georgia), and 15 games of three or more assists.
Sophomore Mikiah Herbert Harrigan has shown the ability to become the Gamecocks' next scorer with nine double-digit scoring games this season after logging just six in her 37-game freshman campaign.
Herbert Harrigan seems to respond best to adversity – when her team needs her most, she absorbs the spotlight. She recorded her most productive SEC game when A'ja Wilson was forced to the bench with early foul trouble at #15/15 Missouri (Jan. 7), scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. In the two games against Tennessee that Wilson missed, the 6-foot-2 sophomore drew the starts and averaged 11.5 points on 43.5 percent shooting, despite the first outing (Jan. 14) shortened to 17 minutes due to suffering her own injury in the third quarter. Starting in place of Wilson against the #12/12 Lady Vols in the SEC Tournament quarterfinal, Herbert Harrigan shot 70.0 percent en route to 15 points to go with three blocks in just 22 minutes.
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