Gamecocks close pre-holiday schedule with Lady Bulldogs at 1 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena
Dec. 21, 2013
South Carolina Game Notes
South Carolina State
Sunday, December 22, 2013, 1 p.m.
Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
$7 adult, $4 youth (17 and under)
Fox Sports South (Jenn Hildreth, Debbie Antonelli)
WNKT 107.5 FM/WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
SC leads 24-9
South Carolina Notables
- South Carolina will recognize the winners of the second segment of the Read with the Gamecocks program today. Sixty-five elementary schools around the state participated with 4,685 readers amassing 711,351 pages read. Bluffton Elementary recorded a segment-high 65,666 pages, while individual grade winners came from four different schools with Carver-Lyon Elementary 4th grader Zaria Faust reading more than anyone else in the state (5,648 pages).
- One of the offseason focuses for the South Carolina coaching staff was passing, and the work is paying dividends in assist numbers as the Gamecocks rank among the nation's top 30 at 16.6 per game. In the previous five seasons under Staley, the highest season average was 11.2 per game. At least 60 percent of made field goals have been assisted in seven of 11 games so far this season.
- While guard Tiffany Mitchell is the Gamecocks' leading scorer, South Carolina's offense is driven by what happens in the paint. The Gamecocks have scored 39.1 points per game in the paint - more than half of their 77.5 scoring average.
- As South Carolina has been challenged in the last three games, a trio of Gamecocks lifted their games to another level. Junior forward Aleighsa Welch leads the trio offensively with 18.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell has provided the most well-rounded contributions with 17.7 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game. She is shooting 55.6 percent from 3-point range during the stretch. While Welch and Mitchell are expected to deliver when it matters most, junior center Elem Ibiam has delivered the most significant surge. Entering the three-game stint averaging 9.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, she has posted 15.0 points, (a team-high) 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game over the last three outings.
- Junior forward Aleighsa Welch is one of two of the SEC's top 10 rebounders to also rank among the top 15 scorers.
- Sophomore guard Khadijah Sessions suffered an ankle sprain against North Carolina (Dec. 18) and will not play today. Her status will be re-evaluated when the team returns from the holiday next week.
A South Carolina Win Would...
- Give the Gamecocks n 11-1 record for the second time in as many seasons. South Carolina went 12-1 in non-conference action last season - the best mark under Staley, matching the 2002-03 mark as the best since the program first joined a conference in 1983-84
- Be the Gamecocks' 21st consecutive over SC State.
By the Numbers
3 Offensive rebounds needed by junior forward Aleighsa Welch to move into a tie for fifth all-time in career offensive boards - tying Demetress Adams (2006-09)
5 Individual 20-point games this season by the Gamecock - two each by Alaina Coates (CSU, at SDSU) and Tiffany Mitchell (at USC, Winthrop) and one by Aleighsa Welch (vs. UNC)
6 Games in which South Carolina has shot at least 50.0 percent from the field this season after reaching the mark just 12 times in the previous five seasons under Staley
7 Games this season in which South Carolina has scored at least 50.0 percent of its points in the paint, including scoring 70 of 99 points against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8) inside.
52.2 Percent of the Gamecocks' 69 points against Winthrop that sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell either scored or assisted on - 17 in the first half and 19 in the second
61.0 Percent of field goals made this season that have been assisted
SC State Series Notes
The Gamecocks lead the series 24-9 including an 18-2 record in Columbia. South Carolina has won the last 20 meetings with South Carolina State, most recently posting a 65-45 win at Colonial Life Arena on Dec. 21, 2012. The two teams have met each of the last three seasons.
Home Sweet Home
With comprehensive records beginning in the 1976-77 season (the third for women's basketball at South Carolina), the Gamecocks are 368-155 (.704) all-time in games played at home, including a 123-58 mark (.680) in Colonial Life Arena. In the sixth season with head coach Dawn Staley at the helm, South Carolina is 58-25 (.699) at home, including one game at Carolina Coliseum in the 2012-13 season. The Gamecocks have won 44 of their last 55 games played in Colonial Life Arena.
Make It, Take It
South Carolina is exhibiting its most efficient offense of the Dawn Staley era so far this season, leading the SEC and ranking fourth in the nation with 49.4 percent accuracy from the field. The Gamecocks have shot 50.0 percent or higher six times already this season - the most in a season under Staley. In fact, in the previous five seasons, South Carolina hit at least 50.0 percent of its field goal attempts just 12 times combined.
This year's top effort was 60.9 percent against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8) - program best under Staley - followed by a 58.5 percent showing against NC Central (Dec. 2). The Gamecocks made at least 65.0 percent of their attempts in a half five times this season, including a remarkable 73.9 percent (17-of-23) in the second half against Seton Hall (Nov. 17).
All About Adjustments
Ever the tactician, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has her offense clicking best after halftime this season. While the defense is consistent throughout (allowing 25.5 points per first half and 25.6 per second half), the offense takes what Staley has learned through the first 20 minutes of play and applies it to shine in the second half. The Gamecocks are shooting 55.7 percent (152-of-273) in the second half, compared to 44.3 percent (148-of-334) in the first, resulting in 2.4 more points per game after halftime than before it (39.9 to 37.5). The Gamecock guards seem to have an impact on that as they adjust to defensive alignments to get the ball into the paint, handing out 9.2 assists per second half compared to just 7.5 per first half.
Junior forward Aleighsa Welch's SEC-leading .694 field goal percentage is thanks largely to her improved efficiency in the second half of games. While averaging 7.5 points on 58.3 percent shooting in the opening stanza, Welch is hitting 83.8 percent of her second-half attempts to average 7.4 points. The Goose Creek, S.C., native appears to focus more of her first-half attention on rebounding, grabbing 5.2 per opening period compared to 2.7 per second.