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***2020-21 #5/6 South Carolina (19-3) at #3/3 Texas A&M (21-1) Game Thread***

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#5/6 SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS AT #3/3 TEXAS A&M AGGIES

 

#5/6 SOUTH CAROLINA (19-3, 14-1) AT #3/3 TEXAS A&M (21-1, 12-1)
2 P.M. (ET)   |  COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS  |  REED ARENA

South Carolina Game Notes (PDF) | WATCH: ESPN2 | LISTEN: 1320 AM | Live Stats | Staley Media Availability

 

ABOUT THIS GAME

  • South Carolina is 7-3 all-time against Texas A&M after winning the last seven meetings. Eight of the 10 meetings were decided by single digits with five of those settled by three or fewer points.
  • This is the second-straight season that the Gamecocks closed out their SEC slate with the Aggies. Last season's 60-52 victory in Columbia capped South Carolina's perfect 16-0 league record.
  • With both teams suffering just one loss in league play this season, the winner of today's game will be the 2021 SEC Regular-Season Champion.
  • A South Carolina win today would move head coach Dawn Staley into a tie with Texas A&M's Gary Blair for the most league wins by an active SEC head coach (153).
  • This game features the SEC's two stingiest defenses in league play, during which the Gamecocks have allowed just 59.7 ppg and Texas A&M has yielded 60.7.
  • South Carolina enters the game as the "underdog" (lower-ranked team) for the first time this season and the first time since they upset then-No. 2 Baylor on Nov. 30, 2019, as the No. 5 team in the country.

 

GAMECOCK NOTABLES

  • South Carolina's defense has held 16 opponents under 60 points this season, including eight of 15 SEC foes. Only five teams have scored at least 70 points against the Gamecocks with four of those games still yielding South Carolina victories.
  • Ranking fourth in the nation in offensive rebounds (17.0), the Gamecocks have scored 17.6 second-chance points per game, which accounts for 22.4 percent of the team's total scoring.
  • Unanimous AP Preseason All-American Aliyah Boston is the cliche of a walking double-double, posting one in 11 of her 22 games so far this season to rank 16th in the nation. Six of those double-doubles came against ranked opponents. More impressively, she averages a double-double overall (13.0 ppg/11.7 rpg), against SEC teams (13.4 ppg/12.3 rpg) and against ranked opponents (13.8 ppg/12.2 rpg).  She is 12th in the nation in rebounding average, 20th in offensive rebounds per game (4.2) and 10th in blocked shots per game (3.0). Boston is on the current watch list for every National Player of the Year award, including Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and is on the Lisa Leslie Award Top 10, an award she won last season.
  • Sophomore guard Zia Cooke has scored in double figures in all but three games this season, including four 20-point outings, which ties Boston for team-high honors. She has been the team's top scorer in 11 of 22 games to lead the Gamecocks as well. She is on the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Top 10 and The Dawn Staley Award Midseason Watch List.
  • Junior Destanni Henderson is the lightning-quick engine that powers the Gamecock offense, especially on the fast break. In SEC play, Henderson averages 4.5 fast-break points per game and assists on another 3.0, meaning 7.5 of the team's 16.1 fast-break points per game (.463) go through her hands.
  • As opponents have locked in on stopping the Gamecock offense's primary options, senior LeLe Grissett and sophomore Laeticia Amihere have stepped up their contributions the last two games. The duo combined to average 22.5 points per game in the last two victories, shooting 48.5 percent from the field.

https://gamecocksonline.com/news/2021/2/27/womens-basketball-top-5-showdown-for-sec-title-sunday.aspx

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I'm excited for this game! I hope our ladies have grown up from all the lessons learned over the season. I think this game will show if we have what it takes to make it to the final four.

Also, random thought, but we seem to be following the same footsteps as UCONN last season...losing to the best of the best and beating the rest (with the exception of the UT loss). I hope this game doesn't prove this true. We really need this win. For as many top 25 teams we have beaten, they're all grouped in that 15-25 range. I really want to see this team take down a top tier team and here is our chance...

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The Aggies lead by just 1 point - 35-34 - at the halftime break. Henderson leads the Gamecocks with 12 pts on 5-9 shooting. The Gamecocks are still turning the ball over too much, and are on pace for a near 20 turnover game. But they are in solid position, and hopefully make the proper adjustments to surge ahead in the 2nd half....

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We got to within three 60-57 with 3 minutes left to play, off of several made three-pointers. But we kept on taking threes, and the pressure got to us.

 

I guess we had no answer as far as driving to the basket, with our bigs and whatnot. All the missed layups are a mental thing now for the team.....

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Gamecocks fall to Texas A&M 65-57. This team is not a #1 Seed caliber team, much less a national championship caliber team. No leadership, no quality coaching on fundamentals. And the coaching plan is rather pedestrian against the better opposing coaching staffs, and is often exposed as lacking. That incoming class better be as talented as they are being hyped, because they will need to be to rise this team above the lead weight that is Dawn Staley's coaching. This current class of talent cannot do it......they are too busy with their heads in the clouds, or more likely up in the rafters looking at that pointless banner....

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1 minute ago, kingofnerf said:

Went for threes instead of driving and drawing fouls to slow the game down.

This is what we get without Ty this year.

I agree - once we got within 3 60-57 with 3 full minutes left to play, I expected us to take the game into the paint. The Aggies had to be staggered at that point. It wasn't like there were 25 seconds left in the game. 3 minutes is a LOT of time to play when the difference is only 3 points. But we just kept on heaving up threes - we were lucky that so many went in to get us back into the game, but we abused it. So the game is now over, and we STILL have just those 57 points......

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It's looking like this is not going to be the year we expected it to be. But I feel all of our ladies are getting some valuable lessons that they can take into the off season and prepare for next season. This team is talented and has potential but just like UConn last season there is something missing...a special player or some off-season gains.

I like our bigs and think they're championship-worthy. Amihere still needs some work and Saxton can stop making bad fouls...but those are small things. They can also work on making the easy shots while under pressure. But to me it seems that our guard play is a step below championship caliber and is what is holding us back this season. I think we area championship team next season if Brea can become a legit 3-point threat, Zia continues to work on her fundamentals and shot choices, and Destanni becomes a more vocal leader and offensive manager. Any help we get from the new freshman will be just a bonus. I expect for us to be ranked #2/3 in the preseason.

For this season, I think we're a sweet 16 team, for sure. After that, it's hard to tell. It will all depend on match-ups. I could see us making it to the final four with the right match-ups. But I think realistically, we won't make it past the elite eight. It is what it is.

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17 hours ago, ConwayGamecock said:

Gamecocks fall to Texas A&M 65-57. This team is not a #1 Seed caliber team, much less a national championship caliber team. No leadership, no quality coaching on fundamentals. And the coaching plan is rather pedestrian against the better opposing coaching staffs, and is often exposed as lacking. That incoming class better be as talented as they are being hyped, because they will need to be to rise this team above the lead weight that is Dawn Staley's coaching. This current class of talent cannot do it......they are too busy with their heads in the clouds, or more likely up in the rafters looking at that pointless banner....

There's a lot of truth here...we've won a lot of games out-talenting teams, not through execution and fundamentals.  We are arguably one of the worst passing teams in the country...we telegraph passes, we lazily "float" passes, we throw passes into crowds...And don't even get me started on lay-ups and free throws.  And yet we win.

And therein lies the conundrum...Coach Staley is maybe the best recruiting head coach in the women's game, and we are going to win a lot of games by out-talenting other teams, but we will also continue to struggle against good talent that has better fundamentals.  Luckily there aren't a whole bunch of those type teams in the country each year.

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17 minutes ago, FurmanCock said:

There's a lot of truth here...we've won a lot of games out-talenting teams, not through execution and fundamentals.  We are arguably one of the worst passing teams in the country...we telegraph passes, we lazily "float" passes, we throw passes into crowds...And don't even get me started on lay-ups and free throws.  And yet we win.

And therein lies the conundrum...Coach Staley is maybe the best recruiting head coach in the women's game, and we are going to win a lot of games by out-talenting other teams, but we will also continue to struggle against good talent that has better fundamentals.  Luckily there aren't a whole bunch of those type teams in the country each year.

I disagree. If anything, recruiting is half of our issue. Both Staley and Frank tend to value athletic ability over shooting ability. Those help create fantastic defensive units but can lead into a steep learning curve on offense. Staley is a fantastic coach. I think expectations were a little too high for our sophomores. They're still learning and developing. For some reason we thought they would play like seniors as sophomores (myself included). There are always exceptions to the rule (Boston and A'ja) but for most players it's a four year journey. Just look at the development of Ty and Kiki. Both had flashes of greatness through their freshman and sophomore years but didn't really start living up to it until their junior/senior years. That doesn't happen without great coaching. In addition, we are a great defensive team -- one of the best in the nation. You don't become a great defensive unit without solid coaching.

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25 minutes ago, USCMM said:

I disagree. If anything, recruiting is half of our issue. Both Staley and Frank tend to value athletic ability over shooting ability. Those help create fantastic defensive units but can lead into a steep learning curve on offense. Staley is a fantastic coach. I think expectations were a little too high for our sophomores. They're still learning and developing. For some reason we thought they would play like seniors as sophomores (myself included). There are always exceptions to the rule (Boston and A'ja) but for most players it's a four year journey. Just look at the development of Ty and Kiki. Both had flashes of greatness through their freshman and sophomore years but didn't really start living up to it until their junior/senior years. That doesn't happen without great coaching. In addition, we are a great defensive team -- one of the best in the nation. You don't become a great defensive unit without solid coaching.

That's fine...this is all opinion.  I would suggest that everything you say above about athleticism supports an out-talent vs out-coach position.  And we typically benefit from a rebounding advantage because we generally have a more talented height advantage across our starting five...and talent coming in off of the bench (all points to great recruiting).  And nobody that I have read is arguing that it's a net zero position, that she is all recruiting and no coaching.  I don't think anyone is arguing that she is a bad coach, certainly not if you define "good coach" as winning games -- in that regards, she is one of the best in the country. But I also didn't hear any arguments against the points made previously on our offensive liabilities...

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1 hour ago, FurmanCock said:

That's fine...this is all opinion.  I would suggest that everything you say above about athleticism supports an out-talent vs out-coach position.  And we typically benefit from a rebounding advantage because we generally have a more talented height advantage across our starting five...and talent coming in off of the bench (all points to great recruiting).  And nobody that I have read is arguing that it's a net zero position, that she is all recruiting and no coaching.  I don't think anyone is arguing that she is a bad coach, certainly not if you define "good coach" as winning games -- in that regards, she is one of the best in the country. But I also didn't hear any arguments against the points made previously on our offensive liabilities...

We are a young team if you look at who was on the court as both young players and first-time starters. All off our offensive woes I think were due to inexperience with expanded roles from last season to this season. Most of our players should probably still be role players in big games but are forced to step into "go-to" roles because of the lack of junior/senior representation and experience. Dawn has repeatedly said that the playbook was condensed due to the youngness of this team. Without a player like Ty, we couldn't organize and execute her offense to perfection. She tailored our offense to our personnel. I think one strategy was to out-athlete our opponents (due to inexperience) but unfortunately that doesn't work again the best-of-the-best and our deficiencies were exposed. There is only so much a young team can do and I think we took some hard knocks and evolved as the season progressed. I call that good coaching. Unfortunately that wasn't good enough to win the SEC regular season. But I think the lessons learned over this season will pay dividends for the next two seasons....or so I hope. Unfortunately, I feel that it's going to take some off-season training for our team to take the next step on offense.

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