Gamecock Gameday: No. 4/4 South Carolina Opens NCAA Tournament Friday|
March 16, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. No. 4/4 South Carolina kicks off play in the NCAA Tournament Friday evening at Colonial Life Arena. The top-seeded Gamecocks (27-4, 14-2 SEC) host Big South Tournament champion UNC Asheville at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
South Carolina Notables
Five Second Count
South Carolina is one of three programs in the nation to appear in every AP top 10 since the start of the 2014-15 season. The Gamecocks have played in four of the last five NCAA Sweet 16s, including the 2015 Final Four. In the SEC, South Carolina is now just the second program in league history to win four-straight, regular-season championships and has claimed the last three SEC Tournaments, also just the second program to achieve that mark. In the last four seasons, the Gamecocks are 123-14 (.898) overall and 59-5 (.922) in SEC action
By the Numbers
2 Programs with longer active AP top-10 ranking streaks than the Gamecocks (70) -- UConn (233), Notre Dame (126)
UNC Asheville Series Notes
The Gamecocks and Bulldogs have met three times in program history with South Carolina picking up all three wins by an average of 47.7 points. The teams last met the season before current head coach Dawn Staley took over the Gamecock program.
NCAA Tournament Tally
South Carolina is in its 14th NCAA Tournament and sixth straight under head coach Dawn Staley, making this season's senior class just the fourth in program history to play in the NCAA Tournament every season and the second straight to do so. South Carolina earned its fourth No. 1 seed in as many seasons
The Gamecocks are 19-13 overall in the NCAA Tournament with seven Sweet 16 appearances, highlighted by 2015's run to the program's first NCAA Final Four.
In her 17th season as a head coach, Staley has taken a team to the NCAA Tournament 10 times. She is 10-11 at the event, including an 11-5 mark at South Carolina.
Gamecocks Against the Field
South Carolina has faced 14 teams that made this season's NCAA Tournament, including one other team in the Stockton Region (Missouri). The Gamecocks went 14-4 against those 14 teams, which includes seven SEC foes, and 4-2 against teams seeded in the top three in their region. Just six of those 18 games came at home.
In addition to their seven SEC rivals in the field -- Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas A&M -- the Gamecocks faced non-conference games against Duke, Hampton, Louisville, Ohio State, Texas, UCLA and UConn.
In the 18 games against the NCAA Field, the Gamecocks averaged 74.4 points on 47.0 percent field goal shooting, while allowing 62.7 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting. South Carolina out-rebounded those teams by 3.6 per game and averaged 7.2 steals and 5.1 blocks. The Gamecocks significantly out-scored those teams at the free throw line, making 17.1 per game to their opponents' 10.1. A'ja Wilson averaged a team-best 18.7 points per game to go with 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Allisha Gray, Kaela Davis and Alaina Coates also averaged double-figures in those 18 games, each posting just over 12.0 points per game.
SEC Tournament Rewind
South Carolina won its third-straight conference tournament for the first time in program history and joined Tennessee as the only programs to win three straight SEC Tournament championships, capturing the 2017 title in front of a largely home crowd at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. The Gamecocks' three-year sweep of regular-season and tournament titles from 2015 through 2017 matches the Lady Vols' stretch from 1993 to 2000 as well.
In the 2017 tournament, junior forward A'ja Wilson drew Tournament MVP honors behing her 19.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. In the title game, she posted seven points and eight rebounds in the fourth quarter to power the Gamecocks to the win. Junior guard Kaela Davis also earned All-Tournament honors, putting together her most efficient offensive games of the season with 16.3 points per game on 50.0 percent field goal shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. As a team, the Gamecocks brought home the trophy behind a pair of wins over ranked opponents and topped their three opponents by an average of 15.3 points. Defensively, they held their quarterfinal and championship game opponents -- Georgia and Mississippi State, respectively -- to under 50 points.
The Gamecocks' frontcourt of senior Alaina Coates and junior A'ja Wilson has captured national attention all season long, beginning with espnW naming them the No. 9 and No. 1 player in the nation, respectively, coming into the 2016-17 campaign.
Named to ESPN's All-America First Team this week, Wilson continues to be in the running for national player of the year honors as a member of the Wooden National Ballot and the Naismith Trophy Semifinal list. She was also on the last Wade Trophy and USBWA Drysdale Award watch lists released.
Coates is also in the running for All-America status, ranking among the nation's top 20 in field goal percentage (3rd), rebounding (12th) and double-doubles (19th). She was on the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy late-season watch lists.
Five different Gamecocks have led the team in scoring at least once this season, led by A'ja Wilson's 19 games. Six have been the team's top rebounder -- a list paced by Alaina Coates' 20. Even more diverse is the collection of assist leaders. While dominated by freshman point guard Tyasha Harris at 13, there are eight total Gamecocks who have led the team in at least one game.