Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 Time: Noon Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 & under)
TV: None Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
Live Video:GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com SC State Series: SC leads 22-9; In Columbia: SC leads 16-2l In Orangeburg: SC leads 4-3; At Neutral Site: Never Met
South Carolina Notables
Today is head coach Dawn Staley's 100th game at the South Carolina helm.
Senior guard Markeshia Grant leads the team with 10.4 ppg after her first career 20-point game Sunday against Furman.
Junior transfer Sancheon White has shot 50.0 percent from the field for 7.3 ppg over the last three games.
Freshman Aleighsa Welch has averaged 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds over the last four games, shooting 71.4 percent during that span.
Senior La'Keisha Sutton needs four points and seven assists to become just the 11th player in school history to amass at least 1,000 points and 300 assists in her career. The last to reach both marks was Cristina Ciocan in the 2003-04 season.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Make the Gamecocks 8-2 to start the season, the best mark since opening the 2003-04 season with the same mark.
Be head coach Dawn Staley's 50th at South Carolina, tying her with Terry Kelly for fourth place in school history for career wins.
Be the Gamecocks' ninth straight over an opponent based in the state of South Carolina.
Be the Gamecocks' 98th in Colonial Life Arena.
By the Numbers
2 South Carolina's national rank in scoring defense - the Gamecocks' 46.2 points per game by opponents is behind only UConn's 40.8 average
3 Times this season that senior guard Markeshia Grant has tied or exceeded her previous career high of 14 points - 14 vs. College of Charleston, 18 at Xavier and 22 against Furman
4 Points away from 1,000 for La'Keisha Sutton, who would become the 27th Gamecock to reach that plateau and the first since Lauren Simms hit the mark in the 2006-07 season - Sutton is also seven assists away from 300, becoming just the 14th Gamecock to hit that mark
25.0 Field goal percentage of both Furman (11-44) and Presbyterian (10-40), which is the lowest by an opponent in the Dawn Staley era at South Carolina
39 Margin of victory over Furman, the most decisive win of the Dawn Staley era and the highest margin on the road since the Gamecocks topped Savannah State 86-47 (39) on Jan. 6, 2008
51.4 Percent of points scored by the bench, which includes five games of accounting for more than half the team's total points - at Illinois, vs. College of Charleston, vs. Presbyterian, at Xavier and at NC State
59.7 Percent of points scored by the starting lineup against Furman, all of which game from the trio of starting guards - Markeshia Grant (22), La'Keisha Sutton (11) and Ieasia Walker (10)
SC State Series Notes
South Carolina holds a 22-9 series lead over its in-state rival South Carolina State. The last meeting in the series came on December 30, 2010, when the Gamecocks defeated the Lady Bulldogs 63-44. Currently, South Carolina has won 18 in a row in the series, with its last loss coming by a 75-72 score in a matchup on the Lady Bulldogs' home court on February 21, 1980.
Reading Is Fundamental
South Carolina women's basketball will celebrate the winner of the first segment of this season's Read with the Gamecocks program. In its 13th season, the program is broken up into three segments for 2011-12.
The first segment measured pages read from Oct. 31-Nov. 11. The 27 schools/organizations that participated supervised 6,057 participants who read 2,042,049 pages. The winners from each grade level as well as the overall school/organization winner will be recognized on the court at halftime.
The second segment of the program has already concluded, and those winners will be recognized at halftime of the Jan. 15 game against Kentucky. The third segment runs Jan. 16-Jan. 27.
For more information on the Read with the Gamecocks program, contact Chanell Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit GamecocksOnline.com/readingprogram.
Bringing the Defense
In the NCAA statistical rankings released through games of Dec. 11, the South Carolina defense is second in the nation in points allowed per game (46.2) behind just Connecticut (40.8). The Gamecocks have allowed more than 55 points just once in nine games this season - Xavier netted 56 on Nov. 30.
Under head coach Dawn Staley, stingy defense has been a staple of the Gamecock game plan. South Carolina has allowed just 60.7 points per game on Staley's watch, including a 46.2 average this season and a 59.6 mark in 2010-11. In the last two seasons, the Gamecocks allowed 55 or fewer points in a game 22 times, including eight of nine games this season. In the 99 games with Staley at the helm, South Carolina has held an opponent to 55 points or fewer 30 times. In that same period, an opponent has netted 70 or more points in a game just 26 times.
One of the more interesting facets of that statistic is that the Gamecocks have not necessarily held opponents to a sub-par shooting percentage. Through Staley's tenure, opponents have shot 41.2 percent from the field. South Carolina has shot 39.1 percent during that time with the Gamecocks' season field goal percentage exceeding that of its opponents just once (2009-10). The defensive success appears to come from limiting opponent shot attempts entirely as South Carolina has put up more shots than its opponents every season except Staley's first (2008-09). This season alone, the Gamecocks have taken 13.6 more shots per game than their opponents.
More Defensive Data
In addition to scoring defense, South Carolina ranks among the country's top 10 in turnover margin (+8.9, 6th), steals per game (12.1, 34th) and block shots per game (5.8, 48th).
The trio of experienced guards have helped the Gamecocks on both sides of the turnover margin. The Gamecocks have forced 20 or more turnovers in six of their nine games this season while committing 20 or more turnovers only once (vs. College of Charleston, Nov. 23). In fact, that is the only game South Carolina has turned it over more than 15 times this season.
South Carolina's double-digit steals average may also be a product of that experience on the perimeter in conjunction with a more active Ashley Bruner in the post. While junior guard Ieasia Walker leads the team and is sixth in the SEC with 22 steals, the number is not unprecedented as she finished her sophomore season ranked third in the league in that category (2.4 per game). Bruner's 21 steals through nine games is just three shy of her previous career high in a season of 24.
The Gamecocks have not had a true shot blocker since Lakesha Tolliver's graduation in 2008. But the combination of Bruner and freshman Aleighsa Welch, who have swatted 11 and 13, respectively, have given opponents driving to the basket something extra to think about this season. Freshman Elem Ibiam has added seven in just seven games as well.