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Top of the Key: WBB vs. No. 18/19 LSU

The women’s basketball team travels to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers for the second time this season. You can listen live on 1320 AM (Columbia) or on GamecocksOnline.com. Follow @GamecockWBB on Twitter for news and score updates.

South Carolina (10-7, 3-2) Notes

  • South Carolina never trailed against Auburn en route to a dominating   63-49 win at home last Sunday. This was the Gamecocks’ third-straight SEC victory, the first time they have put together three straight league wins since the 2005-06 season.
  • Valerie Nainima scored a game-high 20 points, and freshman all-star candidate Kelsey Bone added 15 points. The two have formed one of the SEC’s top scoring tandems as Nainima and Bone average 18.5 and 14.4 points per game, respectively.
  • Center Kelsey Bone earned her second SEC Freshman of the Week honor of the season after helping the Gamecocks to a pair of victories last week. Shooting 65.4 percent from the field, Bone averaged 19.0 points and 9.0 rebounds during the two-game week as South Carolina topped Kentucky and Auburn at Colonial Life Arena.
  • In SEC play only, South Carolina leads the league in 3-point percentage (.483) and ranks third in both field goal percentage (.461) and rebounding margin (+6.0)
  • In the Dawn Stanley era, the Gamecocks are 10-3 when scoring at least 70 points, incluing a 6-2 mark this season.

No. 18/19 LSU (13-3, 2-2) Notes

  • Wednesday’s matchup will be the second matchup of the season between South Carolina and LSU. LSU was a 70-58 winner in the SEC opener in Columbia on Jan. 3. Hightower scored 23 points to carry the Lady Tigers.
  • LSU has won 13 games in a row over South Carolina dating back to 1999. The Lady Tigers are 9-1 all-time in Baton Rouge and lead the entire series 19-3. The last time LSU lost to South Carolina was Feb. 26, 1998, at the SEC Tournament.
  • LaSondra Barett who averages 12.6 points per game overall, ranks second in scoring in league only games with a 12.5 point per game average, taking on a starring role in the SEC.
  • Barrett has combined for 70 points in her last five of halves of basketball dating back to the second half of the Arkansas game on Jan. 7. Senior guard Allison Hightower still leads the team in points at 16.1 per contest.
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Keys to the Game: MBB vs. LSU

Key Moment

After finally battling their way back into a 45-45 tie with LSU with eleven minutes to play, the Gamecocks didn’t want the game to slip away.

South Carolina locked down on defense (with a little momentum help from the Garnet Army) and went off on a 17-5 run to put the game away for good en route to a 67-58 win on Wednesday night.

One series of plays during the run sent the crowd into a frenzy and put the game away for South Carolina. Clinging to a five-point advantage with under four to go, senior guard Devan Downey put on a brief clinic for those in attendance.

Downey hit a floater to push the lead to seven points and then stole the ball on LSU’s next possession. The guard spotted up and drilled a three-pointer to extend Carolina’s lead to ten. Downey then picked up another steal. He missed the layup, but Lakeem Jackson was there for the follow and within a minute, the Gamecocks were up twelve.

“It was off defense. Every time you’re out there playing well defensively, good things will happen on the offensive end,” said Downey.

After forcing only five turnovers in the opening period, the Gamecocks pressured LSU into ten after the halftime break.

“We keep pressing and attacking them defensively,” said senior Brandis Raley-Ross. “It’s a mentality. It’s a mindest. Our practices are like that. That’s us. That’s South Carolina right there.”

The Gamecocks trailed for most of the first half and didn’t tie the score until the 15:40 mark of the second half.

“The biggest key to the second half is that we made some shots,” said Head Coach Darrin Horn. “At the end of the day, that’s what you have to do in this game. That’s our strength and it helps make our defense go.”

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
G Devan Downey 10-22 6-12 3-6 7 29 2 4 0 3 37

As if there were a question about who would go in this spot. Downey followed up his 33-point performance against Auburn with a 29-point effort against LSU tonight (For the mathematically-challenged, that’s 62 points in two SEC games). In addition, Downey surpassed the 1,500 career points mark as a Gamecock. Downey moved into seventh place on the all-time scoring list at South Carolina. He’s 18 points away from the next player on the list, Carlos Powell.

“Nothing he does surprises us,” said Horn. “That’s what makes special players special is they can do what they want to do and he did that tonight.”

“The last 10 minutes the little guy did what he does best. He made some things happen defensively. He made tough shots. Little guy plays a big game. We’re talking about Downey, of course,” said LSU Head Coach Trent Johnson.

“Monster games. He can put up numbers like that,” said Raley-Ross. “He’s showing it. He’s putting in extra hours in the gym and it’s showing.”

Key Stats

  • The Gamecocks open SEC play with a 2-0 record for the first time since the 96-97 season when South Carolina won their first 11 league games en route to a 15-1 mark.
  • South Carolina hit eleven 3-pointers for the second consecutive game, shooting 11-of-32 from behind the arc on Wednesday night.
  • The Gamecock defense held the Tigers to just 1-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. LSU had averaged 4.6 treys per game coming into tonight’s contest.

Key Quote

“I don’t know who y’all have as player of the game, but I have our crowd. I thought they were tremendous in the second half run, especially our students.” – Coach Horn

“Thank you to the fans. [They] were the player of the game, I wasn’t the player of the game tonight.” – Devan Downey.

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Top of the Key: MBB vs. LSU

The Gamecocks hope to continue their winning ways in SEC action as they host the LSU Tigers Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena. The game will be televised on the SEC Network (Eric Collins and Mark Gottfried will have the call). You can also listen live on the Gamecock ISP Sports Network or on GamecocksOnline.com to hear Andy Demetra and Casey Manning.

South Carolina (10-5, 1-0) Notes

  • Senior point guard Devan Downey leads the team and the league in scoring with 19.5 ppg. Downey scored 33 points on Saturday to lead the Gamecocks to an 80-71 win on the road at Auburn.
  • Downey is just six points away from 1,500 career points as a Gamecock. He needs 103 points to top 2,000 for his career (includes 403 points scored in his freshman year at Cincinnati).  Twelve more points would move Downey into eighth place all-time in program history.
  • South Carolina ranks second in the league and fifth in the nation with 7.9 blocked shots per game. Sam Muldrow leads the team with 3.4 blocks per game – good for 2nd in the league and 8th in the country.
  • The Gamecocks are 23-4 at home under Head Coach Darrin Horn. The Gamecocks are 7-1 at Colonial Life Arena and average 83.5 points in home contests.
  • Carolina is 8-0 when it holds its opponent to under 70 points. The Gamecocks are 9-3 when they score more than 70 points.

LSU (9-6, 0-1) Notes

  • South Carolina leads the all-time series between the two teams 12-11, but the Tigers have won five of the last six meetings. LSU won’s last year’s match-up 85-68 in Baton Rouge.
  • The Tigers are led in scoring by senior forward Tasmin Mitchell (17.1 ppg). Point guard Bo Spencer averages 15.8 ppg.
  • Mitchell is on pace to be one of LSU’s top five all-time leading scorers (he is currently at 1,725 career points). If he reaches the 2,000-point milestone, he’ll be just the third Tiger to accomplish the feat.
  • Like the Gamecocks, the Tigers were picked by the media to finish fourth in their division.
  • The Tigers were 6-3 on the road last season, but are still in search of their first road win of the current campaign. LSU is currently 0-4 in road games.

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Keys to the Game: WBB vs. No. 11/12 LSU

Key Moment

A slow start to the first half turned the game into an uphill battle for the Gamecocks as they fell into 40-19 hole with just under four minutes to go.

South Carolina battled back from the end of the first period and into the second half, cutting the deficit to as little as nine. With eleven minutes remaining in the game, LSU led just 52-43. But the Gamecocks were unable to chip away any further than that and the Tigers held on for the 70-58 win.

It was the second time against a ranked team that the Gamecocks fell behind early and were forced to fight their way back into the game. Freshman Kelsey Bone said the team prepares hard in practice for the ranked opponents, but facing the real deal requires an adjustment.

“It’s a totally different ballgame when you have those actual players from these ranked teams that have All-Americans on the floor – it’s not the same as practice,” said Bone. “It takes us a minute to realize what we’re up against and then the game plan starts to kick in for us.”

“We’ve got to get adjusted to playing against these types of teams,” Bone said. “Our preseason schedule prepared us pretty well for what we’re going to face. It’s a matter of knowing it’s going to come and not being worried about it..I think the first ten minutes of these games are hurting us and once we get over that, we’ll be okay.”

“We have to find a way to even the playing field when we come against a team that’s very talented,” said Head Coach Dawn Staley. “We’ve got to work harder. We don’t work hard every possession and that’s what kills us. We have to scrap for 40 minutes. We tell our team all the time that we can’t have mental lapses and we have to out-work people.”

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
G Allison Hightower 8-16 1-2 6-8 4 23 4 1 4 4 40

The 2010 SEC Preseason Player of the Year and candidate for 2010 National Player of the Year, Allison Hightower was a constant presence in the game for the Tigers. The senior shot 50% from the field and committed just one turnover on Sunday night.

Key Stats

  • Despite playing most of the game in foul trouble, Valerie Nainima still managed to score 13 points to maintain her streak of scoring in double figures. The junior has reached double digits in every game this season.
  • South Carolina’s bench made a strong contribution Sunday night, scoring 28 points.
  • The Gamecocks only forced nine turnovers, a season-low.

Quotable

-“We’re in a constant battle to figure out what works and what doesn’t work with a young basketball team like we have.” – South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley

-“[Coach Staley] has this program on the absolute right track and on the fast track. This is a great group of young players.” – LSU Head Coach Van Chancellor

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