Date: Saturday, March 17, 2012 Time: 11 a.m. Location: West Lafayette, Ind. Arena: Mackey Arena (14,240) TV: ESPN2 (Stephen Bardo and Brenda VanLengen); ESPN3 Radio: 107.5 The Game and WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live State:GamecocksOnline.com Eastern Michigan Series: First Meeting
South Carolina Notables
South Carolina is making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance, but its first since 2003. The Gamecocks have an 8-8 all-time record at the event and have advanced as far as the Elite Eight (2002).
The Gamecocks' 23 wins this season are the most since the 2002-03 team finished its season 23-8. Since South Carolina joined the Southeastern Conference for the 1991-92 season, the most wins the Gamecocks have posted in a season are 25 (2001-02). The team's 10 SEC wins this season tied the 2001-02 team's effort for the most in school history.
South Carolina advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the first time in program history.
The Gamecocks have defeated five nationally ranked opponents this season, including three wins over top-20 foes.
Six of South Carolina's nine losses have been by fewer than 10 points. The Gamecocks have lost their games this season by an average of 7.9 points, compared to their 16.8 point average margin of victory.
The Gamecocks built their success this season around a team defense that ranks fourth in the nation in scoring defense. South Carolina has held a team below its scoring average 31 times this season, holding a team at least 10 points under that mark 20 times, including 10 of 16 SEC games. Only six games have seen an opponent score 60 or more points.
The Gamecocks found success at the SEC Tournament getting points outside the usual sources. Entering the event accounting for 64.3 percent of the team's offense by either points or assists, South Carolina's trio of starting guards - who each earned All-SEC Second Team honors - had a hand in just 48.3 percent of the team's scoring in the first two games of the event, both Gamecock victories.
Three Gamecocks - guards Markeshia Grant, La'Keisha Sutton and Ieasia Walker - earned spots on the All-SEC Second Team, the most in program history. Sutton became the first Gamecock named to the league's All-Defensive Team.
A South Carolina Win Would... ,br>
Make this the Gamecocks' third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance to yield at least one win.
Keep the Gamecocks perfect against Mid-American Conference foes in program history.
Give the Gamecocks a winning record in NCAA Tournament history, pushing their mark to 9-8 all-time.
By the Numbers
2 Gamecocks that stand over six-feet tall - Elem Ibiam (6-3) and Pamela Decheva (6-1)
3 Wins this season that senior guard La'Keisha Sutton has sealed at the free throw line - at Florida (Jan. 8), at Tennessee (Feb. 2) and Florida (Feb. 12)
3 Gamecocks on the All-SEC Second Team, the most recognized by the league coaches in program history
4 Times this season that forward Aleighsa Welch pulled down six offensive rebounds, the fourth-most by a freshman in school history
7 3-pointers by senior guard Markeshia Grant at Tennessee (Feb. 2), which is tied for the most in the SEC this season
7.9 Margin of defeat in the Gamecocks' nine losses this season, including five games decided by five or fewer points
8 Games this season that junior guard Ieasia Walker has handed out five or more assists, during which the Gamecocks are 6-2
8 Wins in a row by the Gamecocks (Dec. 11-Jan. 8), the longest win streak of the Staley era and the longest for the program since 2003-04
8.7 Points per game from freshman guard Tina Roy in three games at the SEC Tournament, after entering the event averaging 4.1 points
11 Games this season decided by five or fewer points, during which South Carolina is 6-5, including a 4-3 mark in SEC action
14 Games in which freshman Aleighsa Welch has led the team in rebounding, during which the Gamecocks are 12-2
16 Rank of senior guard La'Keisha Sutton on the Gamecocks' career points list (1,263),
17 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
20 Rank of senior forward Charenee Stephens on the Gamecocks' career rebounds list (586), just two shy of 19th place
22 Games this season in which the Gamecock defense held its opponent to 55 or fewer points, during which South Carolina is 18-4
23 Points scored by the Gamecock frontcourt of the team's total of 50 at #13/10 Kentucky - the highest percentage of scoring by post players (.460) since the forwards netted 53.8 percent of the team's 65 points against Vanderbilt (Jan. 5)
25 Games in which South Carolina has led at halftime, during which the Gamecocks were 22-3
65 Games won by this year's senior class (assumes four-year careers), making it the most since the 2005 class captured 66
Eastern Michigan Series Notes
Neither South Carolina nor head coach Dawn Staley has faced Eastern Michigan before today's contest. The Gamecocks have played five other Mid-American Conference schools in their history with a perfect 10-0 record againt them. South Carolina is 4-0 against Ohio, including a win in Staley's first season at the Gamecock helm.
Reaching their first SEC Tournament semifinal in school history is just one part of the Gamecocks' best season in nearly a decade. South Carolina has found success behind a steady dose of stifling defense, ranked fourth in the nation, and a diversified offense. The Gamecocks have allowed more than 55 points just nine times this season and have held five nationally ranked opponents to that mark or lower. Seven different players have led the team in scoring, and eight have scored in double figures at least once. South Carolina's 14-2 start earned the program's first national rank since the end of the 2002-03 season, and the Gamecocks have been ranked a total of four weeks this season. The Gamecocks have the most overall wins since 2002-03 and the most SEC wins since the 2001-02 team also had 10. Signature league wins include the program's first sweeps of Vanderbilt and Florida and its first win over Tennessee in Knoxville.
SEC Tournament Flashback
The Gamecocks advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the first time since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. After finishing the season tied for fourth in the league, South Carolina was the tournament's No. 6 seed. The Gamecocks cruised through the first round to defeat Alabama for the third time this season. South Carolina faced Georgia in the second round for the second-straight year, and the Gamecocks avenged both last year's loss at the event and a narrow Lady Bulldog victory earlier this season with a 59-55 win in Nashville. It was a total team effort for South Carolina as only one Gamecock reached double-figure points. The game featured six ties and six lead changes before South Carolina clinched the win with six straight free throws down the stretch. Playing their third game in three days, the Gamecocks ran out of steam in the semifinals against Tennessee.
Senior guard La'Keisha Sutton led the team offensively with 11.0 points per game at the tournament, while freshman guard Tina Roy was the surprise standout, adding 8.7 points per game. In her first games back after missing the last two regular-season games due to an injury, freshman forward Aleighsa Welch was the team's top rebounder at 4.7 boards per game. Junior guard Ieasia Walker was second in the category with 4.3 boards per outing while tying for team-high honors with five assists.
Gamecocks Against the Field
South Carolina played 14 games this season against the 2012 NCAA Tournament field, posting a 7-7 record against the eight different opponents. The Gamecocks were most successful against Florida (2-0), a No. 9 seed playing its first round in Bowling Green, Ohio, and Vanderbilt (2-0), the No. 7 seed hosting their first round game. South Carolina split its two meetings with Arkansas (No. 6 seed, College Station), Georgia (No. 4 seed, Tallahassee) and Tennessee (No. 2 seed, Chicago). The Gamecocks also faced Kentucky, (No. 2 seed, Ames) LSU (No. 5 seed, Baton Rouge) and Penn State (No. 4 seed, Baton Rouge).