Date: Monday, March 25, 2013 Time: 9:30 p.m. (ET) Location: Boulder, Colo. - NCAA Tournament Second Round Arena: Coors Events Center (11,064) TV: ESPN2 (Full game in team markets, whip-around coverage out of market) Online Video:ESPN3 (If outside the U.S., click here) Radio: WISW 1320 AM Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Kansas Series: First Meeting
Lauded for their defense all season, the Gamecocks are showing more efficient offense in the postseason. In two SEC Tournament games and its NCAA opener, South Carolina averages 7.3 points more than it did in the regular season (67.7-60.4). All three shooting percentages are up as well, most notably 3-point shooting as the Gamecocks have hit 36.4 percent during the postseason compared to 24.4 percent in the regular season.
It is still defense that drives South Carolina's success, and the Gamecocks have not sacrificed it in favor of offense in the last three games. Their three opponents averaged 49.3 points on 31.7 percent shooting while being out-rebounded by 13.7 boards per game.
Senior forward Ashley Bruner is averaging a double-double in postseason action (14.7 ppg/12.0 rpg), turning the feat in all three games. In just 28 minutes against South Dakota State, she turned in her most well-rounded performance of the season, adding three assists and four steals to her 15 points and 11 rebounds. She moved into 14th place in school history in career rebounds (689) with the effort.
Sophomore Elem Ibiam has been a sizeable factor in the Gamecocks' postseason fortunes. Averaging 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in the regular season, the 6-foot-3 center has added 11.3 points and 8.0 boards per postseason outing. Since missing the Ole Miss game (Feb. 17) to have her broken nose repaired, Ibiam has averaged 8.2 points and 5.3 boards, compared to her 4.3 point and 4.0 rebound averages up to that point.
The Gamecocks are in the midst of their second-straight 20-win season, just the fourth for the program since joining the SEC. South Carolina's 23 regular-season wins tied the school record, set by the 1979-80 team en route to a 30-6 finish. The Gamecocks' 25 wins this season ties for the most since 1979-80 as well.
SEC Defensive Player of the Year Ieasia Walker has celebrated her award by pouring on the offense. In the postseason, the senior guard is averaging 12.7 points to go with her 4.7 assists, including 15 points in each of the last two games.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Put the Gamecocks in the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second-straight season and the fifth time in school history.
Be the Gamecocks' 26th of the season, the most in the SEC-era and the most since the 1979-80 team won 30.
By the Numbers
3 Double-doubles by senior forward Ashley Bruner in the three postseason games this season, giving her eight on the season 3 Seasons since 1980-81, including the last two, in which South Carolina has won at least 25 games 4 Opponents that have scored 60 or more points against the Gamecocks this season, helping South Carolina to No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense 11.3 Points per game by sophomore center Elem Ibiam in postseason play this season (three games) 13.2 Points per game by senior guard Ieasia Walker in the last five outings, including 12.7 points per posteason contest 14 Place in total rebounds in school history for senior forward Ashley Bruner, whose 689 career boards have her 38 behind Martha Parker (1986-89) in 13th place 14 Points needed by senior guard Ieasia Walker to move into 20th place in school history in career points 17 Double-doubles posted by sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch (9) and senior forward Ashley Bruner (8) this season 42 Points in the paint for South Carolina against South Dakota State, tied for the third-most this season 44.5 Percent field goal shooting by the Gamecocks in postseason play, compared to 38.5 percent shooting at the end of the regular season 67.7 Points per game by the Gamecocks in their three postseason games after entering the SEC Tournament with a 60.4 scoring average 76.9 Percent free throw shooting by the Gamecocks against South Dakota State (March 23), a season high that included 12-of-14 (.857) accuracy in the second half
Gamecocks' Five-Second Count
With a complementary blend of youth and experience, South Carolina opened a season 10-0 for the first time since the 1981-82 team also won its first 10 contests. The Gamecocks, now 25-7 overall and 11-5 in SEC action, have shown they have both inside and outside offensive options and are dominant on the glass this season while the defense has dropped off very little from last season's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 effort. Four Gamecocks average more than nine points with four others netting 4.0 or more per game. South Carolina ranks ninth in the nation with a +9.3 rebounding margin and has two players ranked among the SEC's top 10 rebounders. Defensively, the Gamecocks are fourth in the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 49.5 points per game. South Carolina has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points 20 times in 31 games and limited an opponent to under 30 percent field goal shooting eight times, including Hampton (Nov. 22), which hit just 19.3 percent (11-57) from the field for the second-lowest opponent field goal percentage of the Staley era, and Vanderbilt (Jan. 10), which shot just 26.5 percent after coming into the game with the SEC's second-highest field goal accuracy at 45.2.
South Carolina has scored at least 40 points in a half seven times this season, including two of its three postseason games. The Gamecocks' 44 first-half points against South Dakota State were the second-most in a half this season, trailing the 49 second-half points against Alabama in the SEC Tournament second round and tying their 44 in the first half at Kentucky. The Gamecocks are 6-1 on the season when scoring at least 40 points in one half.
On the other hand, South Carolina has also posted total points in the 40s five times this season, including a season-low 40 points at then-#13/12 Georgia. The Gamecocks are 2-3 in those low-scoring games.
Safe at Sixty
With the Gamecocks' steady defensive effort, the offense has not had to put up gaudy numbers to win games in the Dawn Staley era. In South Carolina's 157 games under Staley, the Gamecocks have scored 60 or more points 86 times with a 68-18 record in those games. That number includes a 16-1 mark this season with the lone loss coming in the Gamecocks' 78-74 defeat at then-No. 9/7 Kentucky. Defensively, in the 129 games played in the last four seasons (including this season), a South Carolina opponent has scored 60 or more points just 29 times. The Gamecocks have won just seven of those games.
NCAA Tournament Tally
South Carolina is making its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance and its second in as many seasons. The Gamecocks are 11-9 overall at the event, including last season's 2-1 mark en route to the Sweet 16. The program's four Sweet 16 appearances include a run to the 2002 Elite Eight - the deepest into the event any South Carolina basketball team has gone. The Gamecocks have won at least one game in the tournament in six of the nine previous seasons at the event.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has taken a team to the NCAA Tournament seven times, including two South Carolina teams. She is 5-7 as a head coach at the event.
Looking at South Carolina's roster of seven guards and four forwards/centers, the casual observer might think that rebounding would not be the Gamecocks' bailiwick, but South Carolina has out-rebounded its opponent in all but six games this season - at Missouri (-8, Feb. 28), then-#14/16 Texas A&M (-9, Feb. 10), Auburn (-7, Feb. 3), at Arkansas (-7, Jan. 27), #5/4 Kentucky (-1, Jan. 24) and then-#1/1 Stanford (-11, Dec. 19). The Gamecocks' effort includes six games of 20 or more rebounds more than their opponent, including a Dawn Staley era record +29 at Alabama (Feb. 7), and nine others in which they out-boarded the opposition by at least 10. The team effort has the Gamecocks ranked ninth in the nation in rebound margin at +9.3.