Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 & under) beginning at halftime of men's game Parking: Free in all lots beginning at halftime of men's game Television: FSN South (Andy Demetra and Debbie Antonelli) Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Series History: Stanford leads 4-0; In Columbia: Stanford leads 1-0; In Palo Alto: Stanford leads 2-0; Neutral Site: Stanford leads 1-0
South Carolina men's and women's basketball teams and staff will wear green ribbons during Wednesday's doubleheader to honor the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
This is the ninth time the Gamecocks are facing the nation's top team, looking for their first win over a No. 1-ranked opponent.
For the first time under head coach Dawn Staley, just one of the team's top three scorers is a guards as forwards Aleighsa Welch (11.9 ppg) and Ashley Bruner (11.0 ppg) are first and third, respectively, on the season.
The Gamecocks have held eight of their 10 opponents under 50 points this season and rank second in the nation in scoring defense.
South Carolina is also second in the nation in rebounding margin (+16.4). A Gamecock has pulled down double-digit rebounds in a game 12 times this season, compared to just seven all of 2011-12.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Make the Gamecocks 11-0, which would be the out-right school record for wins to open a season.
Be the program's first ever over a team ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Give head coach Dawn Staley her first career coaching win over her former U.S. National Team head coach, Tara VanDerveer.
By the Numbers 0 Points the Gamecocks allowed Drexel leading scorer Hollie Mershon in the final nine minutes of the game to key their comeback from a 14-point halftime deficit 1 Rank of sophomore Aleighsa Welch in double-doubles in the SEC, a category in which she also ranks 17th in the nation 2 South Carolina's ranking nationally in scoring defense (45.0 ppg) and rebounding margin (+16.4) 4 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have out-rebounded their opponent by 20 or more - vs. Florida Gulf Coast (+26; Nov. 24), vs. Hampton (+25; Nov. 22), vs. Savannah State (+24; Nov. 15) and Elon (+20; Nov. 9) 6 Double-digit rebound games this season by sophomore Aleighsa Welch, which is tied for the lead in the SEC 7 Double-doubles recorded by the Gamecocks this season after last season's squad posted just two 8 Games in school history played against a team ranked No. 1 in the nation 10 Rebounds more than Drexel that South Carolina collected after halftime, turning a nine-rebound deficit at the break into a 38-37 advantage at the final horn 14 Deficit at halftime for the Gamecocks against Drexel before coming back to win in overtime, the largest deficit South Carolina has overcome since rallying from 18 points down with 8:15 to play in the first half against LSU on Jan. 6, 2011 and the largest second-half deficit overcome by the Gamecocks in the Dawn Staley era
The Stanford Series
The Gamecocks and Cardinal have met four times, most recently in the 2012 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. Stanford has won all four meetings, including last season's 76-60 decision in Fresno, Calif., as the Cardinal went on to the Final Four. South Carolina has hosted Stanford once before - a 78-47 Cardinal victory on Dec. 19, 2008.
Scouting the Cardinal
Stanford comes to Columbia as the top team in the nation behind an undefeated record. The Cardinal reached that plateau because they do almost everything well and with unfailing precision. Stanford is second in the nation in turnovers per game (11.9), third in field goal percentage (.518), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.33), seventh in rebounding margin (+14.6) and ninth in field goal percentage defense (.316). It is also among the country's top 20 in scoring (78.6 ppg, 12th).
Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike leads the Cardinal, averaging a double-double with 22.0 points and 11.9 rebounds. She ranks among the nation's top 15 in both scoring and rebounding and leads the country in field goal percentage, hitting 65.6 percent of her attempts.
Senior Joslyn Tinkle is not far behind her frontcourt mate, scoring 15.9 points per game on 55.0 percent shooting. Sophomore Amber Orrange rounds out the trio of double-digit scorers with her 10.6 points per game.
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer is in her 27th season, leading the Cardinal to a 718-149 record, which pushes her career record to 870-200 in her 34th season.
Gamecocks' Five-Second Count
With a complementary blend of youth and experience, South Carolina has opened the season 10-0 for the first time since the 1981-82 team also won its first 10 contests. The Gamecocks have shown they have diverse 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. Three Gamecocks average double-figure points with two other netting six or more points per game. South Carolina ranks second in the nation with a +16.4 rebounding margin and has three players ranked among the SEC's top 20 rebounders. Defensively, the Gamecocks have held eight of their 10 opponents this season under 50 points and limited five of the 10 to under 30 percent field goal shooting, including Hampton which hit just 19.3 percent (11-57) from the field for the second-lowest opponent field goal percentage of the Staley era.
Familiarity Breeds Competition
For the fourth time this season, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has strong ties to her counterpart on the opposing team's bench. Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer was Staley's head coach on the U.S. Women's National Team in 1995-96, the first time the group went into residency for a full year to prepare for the 1996 Olympic Games. That group of players went 52-0, culminating in an Olympic gold medal, the first of Staley's three during her playing career.
Staley came out on top in each of this season's first three outings against her former teammates or coaches - vs. Charlotte Smith of Elon, at Teresa Witherspoon's Louisiana Tech team and at Anne Donovan of Seton Hall. If she continues that trend tonight, it will be her first head coaching win over a VanDerveer-coached squad.
Against the Best
South Carolina women's basketball has faced the nation's top team eight times in program history, including four games in Columbia, but the Gamecocks are looking for their first-ever win against a top-ranked opponent. Tonight's meeting is the second against the No. 1 team in the country during the Dawn Staley era as Connecticut brought the highest ranking into Colonial Life Arena on Dec. 28, 2008, in her first season at the helm.
Six of the eight games have been during the course of SEC regular-season play and includes four meetings with Tennessee. Connecticut is the lone non-conference opponent to bring a No. 1 ranking into a game with South Carolina.
The highest ranked team the Gamecocks have defeated is No. 3, which they accomplished twice against the same opponent in two different seasons. South Carolina first defeated a top-three foe on Dec. 29, 1990, when the unranked Gamecocks upended Auburn 83-76 in Columbia. Two seasons later, Auburn returned to Columbia with a No. 3 ranking, and again the unranked Gamecocks claimed the victory, 59-47 on Feb. 27, 1993. The Gamecocks' last win over a top-five team came in a 70-66 decision over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998, in Columbia.
Home Sweet Home
South Carolina is in its 11th season at Colonial Life Arena and enjoys a 110-55 (.667) record in that time. Overall, the Gamecocks are 354-152 all-time in home games. Since South Carolina first entered a conference in the 1983-84 season, the Gamecocks are 286-131 in non-conference home games.
Head coach Dawn Staley has amassed a 44-22 home record in her fifth season at the helm, including a 27-5 mark in non-conference action.
Deciding in December
South Carolina has a 153-77 (.665) record all-time in the month of December, including a 21-7 (.750) record under fifth-year head coach Dawn Staley. In fact, December is the lone month during which Staley has had a winning record each of her first four seasons. The Gamecocks are 91-22 (.805) at home in the final month of the calendar year with a 51-17 (.750) mark at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina is 33-30 in road games in December and 24-23 at neutral-site contests during the month.
Reading the Rankings
South Carolina is ranked in both national polls for the second-straight week. The Gamecocks climbed to No. 21 in the Associated Press Poll this week after finally cracking into that ranking at No. 24 the week of Dec. 10. The USA Today Coaches' Poll has not been released yet this week, but the Gamecocks came in at No. 18 last week.
The Gamecocks were receiving votes in both polls right out of the gate, finally breaking into the coaches poll at No. 24 on Nov. 26 behind a 7-0 record. South Carolina moved up to No. 21 the following week before climbing to No. 18. The AP voters added the Gamecocks to their top 25 at No. 24 the week of Dec. 10 before lifting them to No. 21 this week. It is the program's highest ranking in the poll since finishing the 2002-03 season at No. 16.
Rendering the RPI
With a 10-0 record, including five games away from home, the Gamecocks are among the nation's top 15 in RPI (varies depending on the organization). In the SEC, only Tennessee has a higher RPI than South Carolina.
The Gamecocks' strength of schedule ranks in the top 100 but will continue to build over the course of the season. The Gamecocks are slated to play five teams currently ranked in the top 25 as well as two others that are in the next five vote getters in the AP Poll. That stretch of games begins tonight against No. 1 Stanford and includes a road game at Georgia (6), home and road games against Kentucky (7), and home games against Tennessee (10) and Texas A&M (22). Arkansas and Vanderbilt are just outside the top 25, and South Carolina will take those teams on in road and home games, respectively.
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 outrebounded every one of its 10 opponents this season, including four by more 20 or more. The team effort has the Gamecocks ranked second in the nation in rebound margin at +16.4. In comparison, last season's squad out-rebounded its 13 non-conference opponents by just 7.2 boards per game.
While rebounding is a team focus, this season has seen a surge in individual performances. In 2011-12, a Gamecock posted double-figure rebounds just seven times over 35 games. Through just 10 games this season, South Carolina has amassed 12 double-digit rebound efforts, including six from sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch, who is tied for the SEC led in the category.