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No. 5/6 Gamecocks Looking for "The Force" Sunday vs. No. 14/16 Duke
Dec. 2, 2017

#5/6 South Carolina vs #14/16 Duke

COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 5/6 South Carolina will a nationally ranked opponent for the first time this season when No. 14/16 Duke comes to Colonial Life Arena for a noon tipoff on Sun., Dec. 3. The Gamecocks are 1-1 against ranked teams so far this season, defeating then-No. 15/13 Maryland on the road and falling to then-No. 6/6 Notre Dame in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. Doors open for the Star Wars-themed game at 11 a.m.


Parking in Lots A and B will be pass only, however, public handicap parking in those lots will be $10. Additional private and city lot parking is also $10. Shuttles from the Pendleton and Park Street garages will begin two hours prior to tip-off, and will be $3 roundtrip.

South Carolina Notables

In the Dawn Staley era, the Gamecocks are 51-46 against nationally ranked opponents, though the number is skewed somewhat by her early “building seasons” in Columbia. Since the start of the 2014-15 seasons, South Carolina is 36-7 against ranked foes, including a 35-4 mark when toting a better ranking than its opponent.
South Carolina has answered the critics who feared the Gamecocks would struggle to rebound with the graduation of Alaina Coates. Out-rebounding opponents by 10.9 boards per game, the Gamecocks lead the SEC and rank 25th in the nation in that category.
The Gamecocks’ offense has been built around constant ball movement throughout the possession. As South Carolina embraces the Staley philosophy that the ball will find who should shoot it, the Gamecocks average 17.1 assists per game on 31.6 made field goals per game. The movement has created the most efficient offense of the Staley era as South Carolina is shooting an SEC-best 51.1 percent from the field to rank fifth in the nation.
Senior forward A’ja Wilson, espnW Preseason National Player of the Year, has long played her best against the best competition, and this season is no different. In 43 career games against ranked opponents, she averages 17.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. In the Gamecocks’ two games against ranked foes this season, she has 33.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.
The Gamecocks have been without senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore (knee sprain) so far this season, but the setback has allowed freshman Bianca Jackson more playing time. The daughter of two college basketball coaches, Jackson has added a steady 5.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game to the Gamecocks’ effort.

By the Numbers

1 Gamecock in the Dawn Staley era who has recorded a double-double that included assists – Tyasha Harris 10 pts/10 assists vs. Western Carolina (Nov. 30)
2 Players who rank among the nation’s top 50 in scoring, rebounding and blocked shot averages, led by A’ja Wilson in 3rd, 23rd and 7th, respectively
3 30-point outings against nationally ranked opponents by A’ja Wilson, the most in program history
5 SEC individual stats led by a Gamecock – steals per game by Tyasha Harris; 3-point field goal percentage by Lindsey Spann; and points per game, blocked shots per game and double-doubles by A’ja Wilson
17 Double-doubles by A’ja Wilson in 43 career games against nationally ranked opponents (7 more games missing it by 1 rebound)

Duke Series Notes

The Gamecocks are 3-2 all-time against the Blue Devils with three of those game featuring both teams ranked in the AP top 15, as they are today. South Carolina won the only previous meeting between the two in Columbia with a 66-55 decision on Dec. 6, 2015, when the Gamecocks were ranked No. 2 and Duke was No. 14 in the AP Poll. Duke claimed the most recent matchup, as the unranked Blue Devils upset third-ranked South Carolina 74-63 in Durham as the Gamecocks suffered a pair of tough-shooting second and third quarters. The more iconic matchup in the Dawn Staley era of the series was the Gamecocks’ previous visit to Durham on Dec. 7, 2014. Ranked No. 1 in the nation, South Carolina needed late-game heroics to hold off No. 9 Duke in a low-scoring affair. After trailing by four at halftime, the Gamecocks surged ahead early in the second half. The Blue Devils reclaimed held a 50-46 lead with 42 seconds to play. Tiffany Mitchell hit a tough 3 from the top of the arc with 19 seconds on the clock. The Gamecocks aggressively trapped Rebecca Greenwell on the sideline on the in-bounds play, stripping the then-freshman and calling timeout with 11 seconds to go. With four seconds on the clock, Mitchell drove for a layup that missed, but then-freshman A’ja Wilson reeled in the miss and quickly went back up for the short jumper that delivered the 51-50 victory.

Ranked Readings

Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 51-46 against nationally ranked opponents, although that record is skewed by the early seasons of her tenure as the Gamecocks are 36-7 versus ranked foes since the start of the 2014-15 campaign. South Carolina is 17-5 against top-10 opponents during that time. Staley’s Gamecocks are 18-18 against ranked opponents in Colonial Life Arena after 14 of the last 15 such contests dating back to the start of the 2013-14 season.

They’re Free, Take Two!

Built around an inside presence for the last three seasons, South Carolina retains its annual spot among the top teams in free throws made and attempted this season. The Gamecocks are second in the nation in both free throws made (142) and attempted (201). They trail just Kent State’s totals of 148 and 204, respectively.

Just Jennings

Junior transfer Alexis Jennings has strengthened the Gamecocks’ frontcourt, providing a steady, physical presence in the lane. After averaging 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in her two seasons at Kentucky, the powerful post has elevated her play this season. Jennings is third in the SEC in field goal percentage (.655) and 20th in rebounding (6.6 rpg). Both her scoring and rebounding were on display early against the historically strong rebounding Maryland team as she picked up her first double-double in a Gamecock uniform with 12 points and a team-high 13 boards. She has four other double-figure scoring games this season, including a 25-point outing against St. John’s (Nov. 25).




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