#18/14 Gamecocks Head to Arkansas Sunday
Columbia, SC Jan. 26, 2013
Date: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Time: 3 p.m. (ET)
Location: Fayetteville, Ark.
Arena: Bud Walton Arena (19,200)
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com
Arkansas Series: ARK leads 17-9; In Fayetteville: ARK leads 10-2; In Columbia: SC leads 7-5; Neutral Site: ARK leads 2-0
- Guard Tiffany Mitchell earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for the second time this season for her contributions to the team’s wins over LSU and Florida last week. Mitchell averaged 9.0 points and 9.0 rebounds, including 4.5 offensive boards per game, while adding 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game last week.
- Through 20 games, the Gamecock defense has allowed just one opponent to score 60 or more points in a game to rank third in the country in scoring defense. South Carolina is allowing just 47.7 points per game, including just 51.7 points per SEC contest.
- South Carolina’s bench has been a boon the last two games, keyed by sophomore Elem Ibiam and freshman Khadijah Sessions. The four reserves combined to average 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in the last two wins.
- Sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch and senior guard Ieasia Walker have provided the ideal inside-outside threat combination over the last five games, during which South Carolina is 4-1. The pair have combined to score 47.6 percent of the team’s 277 points during the stretch, averaging 13.0 and 13.4 points, respectively. Both rank among the SEC’s top 25 scorers in league games – Welch 22nd at 12.4 ppg and Walker 24th with 12.1 ppg.
- Senior guard Ieasia Walker scored her 1,000th career point as part of her 24-point outing against LSU (Jan. 17). She is the 28th member of that club and just the 12th to also compile at least 200 career steals. She is one of just three active SEC players to have 1,000 career points in combination with 200 career steals and 200 career assists. Walker has an outside chance to reach 500 rebounds as well, sitting at 426 in her career.
- Senior forward Ashley Bruner is one of 26 Gamecocks to amass 500 career rebounds and has a chance to become just the 18th to record at least 600, needing 19 to achieve that plateau.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Make the Gamecocks 6-2 in SEC play for the first time since the 2001-02 team opened league play with a 9-2 mark.
- Be the Gamecocks’ third over Arkansas in the last four meetings and the second in the last three outings in Fayetteville.
By the Numbers
1 Opponent that has scored 60 or more points against the Gamecocks this season, helping South Carolina to No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense
2 Times this season that Tiffany Mitchell has been named SEC Freshman of the Week, including her selection on Monday for her contributions to last week’s wins over LSU and Florida
3 Gamecocks that rank among the SEC’s top 20 in rebounding – Aleighsa Welch (8.4, 5th), Ashley Bruner (7.4, 10th) and Tiffany Mitchell (6.2, 19th)
3.6 Points per game more scored by senior guard Ieasia Walker in SEC games this season than in non-conference play – 8.5 in non-conference, 12.1 in SEC
7 Rebounds needed by senior forward Ashley Bruner to move into the program’s all-time top 20 in career boards
11.5 Points per game scored by freshman guard Khadijah Sessions over the last two contests after entering the stretch with a 3.9 scoring average
12 Gamecocks all-time who have amassed 1,000 career points and 200 career steals after senior guard Ieasia Walker joined the club with her 24-point outing against LSU (Jan. 17) – She is one of just three active SEC players with 1,000 career points along with 200 career steals and 200 career assists.
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
15 Points by Khadijah Sessions at Florida (Jan. 20), the highest scoring output by a Gamecock off the bench this season
29.3 Points below their season average that South Carolina held the #5/4 Kentucky Wildcats in Thursday night’s victory
32 Free throws made by the Gamecocks at Mississippi State (Jan. 6), the most in the Dawn Staley era, the fourth-most in school history and the most ever in a road game
42 Points scored by then-# 13/12 Georgia (Jan. 13), the fewest the Gamecocks have ever allowed in a losing effort
59 Rebounds by the Gamecocks at Florida (Jan. 20), the most in the Dawn Staley era
76.4 Percent of the team’s 1,218 points this season scored by the starting lineup
87 Offensive rebounds by Aleighsa Welch this season, more than half of her total of 168, to lead the SEC in offensive rebounding (4.4 per game)
The Arkansas Series
The Razorbacks lead the series 17-9, but the Gamecocks have won two of the last three and five of the last eight. The team split their pair of games last season with each winning on its home floor. Arkansas struck the first blow with a 68-47 victory at Walton Arena on Feb. 9, 2012, taking some of the shine off the Gamecocks’ win at Tennessee just a week earlier. South Carolina leveled the season series with a 53-47 win on Feb. 26 to send the 2012 senior class out with a victory in the regular-season finale. The Gamecocks have posted just two wins in 12 games in Fayetteville. The most recent was a 64-62 overtime decision on Feb. 6, 2011, that included a pair of free throws from Ieasia Walker to send the game to overtime.
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 17-3 overall and 5-2 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. Two Gamecocks average double-figure points with three others netting 5.0 or more per game. South Carolina ranks seventh in the nation with a +11.0 rebounding margin and has three players ranked among the SEC’s top 20 rebounders. Defensively, the Gamecocks are third in the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 47.7 points per game. South Carolina has held 15 of its 20 opponents this season to 50 or fewer points and limited seven of the 20 to under 30 percent field goal shooting, 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.
The Gamecocks are 192-232 (.453) all-time in games on enemy territory, including a 17-27 (.386) mark under head coach Dawn Staley.
In the last two games, South Carolina gotten great contributions off the bench, both in minutes played an timely production. The two Gamecocks leading that charge are sophomore Elem Ibiam and freshman Khadijah Sessions. Ibiam was the first to surge ahead, going back to the LSU game (Jan. 17). In the three outings since – all Gamecock wins – the 6-foot-3 center averaged 6.7 rebounds per game, including 3.7 on the offensive end. Ibiam added timely offense with eight points in the win over #5/4 Kentucky (Jan. 24), including six during a 12-4 run late in the second half that helped propel the Gamecocks to victory. Sessions shot her way into a season-high 28 minutes at Florida (Jan. 20) to finish the game with 15 points. Six of those points came at the free throw line, including three in the final 30 seconds to help the Gamecocks secure the victory. Against #5/4 Kentucky (Jan. 24), the guard delivered 26 minutes of solid ball-handling – no turnovers against UK’s pressure defense – while scoring eight points that included a free throw in the final 11 seconds of the five-point victory.
South Carolina is ranked 24th in the country in turnovers, committing just 14.1 per game. The Gamecocks have committed 10 or fewer turnovers seven times this season, including a pair of seven-turnover games that rank among the top five in the Dawn Staley era. South Carolina has turned it over more than 15 times in a game just six times, while the defense has forced more than 15 turnovers 13 times. The Gamecocks’ 14.1 turnovers per game is the lowest average by the program since the 1983-84 team set the school record of 8.2. The 2011-12 Gamecocks closed the season with a 14.2 turnover average.
Posts Up – Spurs Up
Forwards Aleighsa Welch and Ashley Bruner have been an integral part in the team’s 17-3 start this season, averaging 12.4 and 9.4 points, respectively. Welch is shooting a team-best 63.8 percent from the field on the season, which would lead the SEC if she were not 10 field goals short of the minimum to qualify. The duo are among the league’s top 10 rebounders with Welch ranking fifth at 8.4 per game and Bruner coming in 10th at 7.4. Both are especially proficient on the offensive glass, ranking first and eighth, respectively, in the league. More than half of Welch’s 168 total rebounds have come on the offensive end (87).
Walkin’ on Sunshine
Senior guard Ieasia Walker has shown tremendous leadership in guiding this season’s team that includes four newcomers among its nine active players to a 17-3 record. Walker showed patience through the non-conference season, stepping out of the spotlight to allow her younger teammates to find their way on offense while still providing dominant defense borne of quick hands and lightning fast reflexes. In SEC play, however, Walker as re-asserted herself offensively raising her scoring average from 8.5 in non-conference play to 12.1 in SEC action. She ranks among the 25 top scorers in league games. Walker turned up the scoring while still contributing 2.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game in league play. In evidence that she has spent her career as an all-around contributor, Walker joins Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies and Georgia’s Jasmine James as the only active SEC players to have amassed at least 1,000 points in combination with 200 career assists and 200 career steals.
Movin’ On Up
South Carolina seniors Ashley Bruner and Ieasia Walker have made the most of their time in the Garnet and Black, posting and heading toward significant milestones while moving up the all-time leaderboards in several categories. Bruner made the first move by becoming just the 26th Gamecock to pull down at least 500 career rebounds, hitting the mark as part of her seven-rebound outing at Seton Hall (Dec. 2). Currently 21st on the total rebounding list with 581, she can move into the top 20 with seven more boards, which would tie her for the 20th spot with Ilona Burgrova (2005-08). With 19 more rebounds this season, Bruner will join just 17 other Gamecocks to reach 600 career boards. Walker joined the 1,000-point club 18 points into her 24-point performance against LSU (Jan. 17) at Carolina Coliseum. She is just the 28th Gamecock to reach the plateau and is one of just 12 in the group to pair the milestone with at least 200 career steals. Walker hit that mark with five swipes against Western Carolina (Dec. 29). She moved into the program’s top 10 in that category on the same night she scored her 1,000th point, swiping five steals from the Lady Tigers to get to 216 and climb into sixth place in school history. Currently at 220, she needs seven more to tie Cristina Ciocan (2000-04) in fifth place.