Get your mind out of the gutter, folks.
Even though they have one of the more embarassing nicknames in the country, the Tennessee Volunteers embarassed the South Carolina Gamecocks even more on the “hardwood” for their 15th straight win and seventh straight SEC win.
Some good moves in the post created an opportunity for Kyle Alexander to make the first bucket of the game, but he was unable to do finish to get the points. Fortunately, Admiral Schofield was right there to snag the offensive rebound and give the Vols their first points - and lead - of the game, 2-0.
Grant Williams was able to immediately steal the ball away as the Gamecocks were throwing the ball back inbounds. He couldn’t finish at the rim, but Alexander bailed him out with an offensive rebound and a quick shot to give the Vols a 4-0 lead.
But poor defense left Tre Campbell wide open for a quick three from the top corner to cut the Tennessee lead to one point, 4-3. Williams was blocked by Chris Silva on the following possession, but was able to recover with a turn-around jumper that bounced off the glass and put the Vols up, 6-3.
Alexander recorded his second foul early on the in the game after fouling Silva as he made his first bucket of the game. Silva converted the free throw for the three-point play to tie the game 8-8.
South Carolina tried to steal some momentum on an AJ Lawson dunk, but he missed terribly. Luckily for him, Gravett was there for the offensive rebound and the layup to give the Gamecocks a 10-8 lead.
Gravett negated the good play on the next offensive possession after his own turnover led to a Lamonte Turner layup that tied the game at 10-10 with 15:17 left to play in the first half.
Jordan Bone then drained a three to give the Vols the 13-10 lead. He later drained another one after South Carolina had cut to lead to one point. Bone’s eight points in the first 7:30 helped build the Vols’ 18-14 lead.
Turnovers plagued South Carolina in the first half. They had four in a 2:03 span and finished with nine in the first 20 minutes.
The Vols continued to stroke it from beyond the arc as Turner drained a three of his own to give the Vols a 29-21 lead with 8:24 to play.
Some solid plays from Schofield and Williams helped the Vols mount a 6-0 run to push the score to 35-23. They also made six straight shots over the last few minutes.
Silva ended the run after he nailed his first three-point shot of the game to cut the lead to 35-26. Despite Silva’s outstanding performance, it was clear that the Vols were executing so much better on offense compared to the Gamecocks. Without Silva, there would be no telling what the deficit would be.
He continued to shine, scoring his 16th point to cut the Vols’ lead to 38-32, but Bone immediately responded with a bucket of his own to push the lead back to eight points.
The Vols went on another 6-0 run with under 3:00 to play and it was promptly ended by another Silva trey. The score was 44-35 at this point, but this time it was Turner that matched Silva’s effort and pushed the lead back to 47-35.
And speaking of Silva’s effort - this dude had a helluva half. South Carolina went into halftime trailing 47-38 and Silva had 22 of the 38 points.
Both teams were efficient. The Vols shot 58 percent from the floor while the Gamecocks shot 42 percent. The difference was the turnovers, where Tennessee had scored 16 points off of 9 Gamecock turnovers.
With Bowden questionable to even play, the Vols needed both Bone and Turner to contribute in a major way. Both were able to do so, but Turner picked up three fouls in the first half. How Rick Barnes managed the guard position would be something to keep an eye on in the second half.
But he would end up having to figure out how to stop South Carolina’s offense instead. Both teams traded buckets to open the first half, but the Gamecocks didn’t let up after.
A Lawson three from the corner cut the lead to 50-43 with 18:50 left in the game, and then he was able to hit a layup and draw the foul for the three-point opportunity. He couldn’t hit the free throw, but he was still able to slice the lead down to seven, 52-45.
An offensive charge on Grant Williams led to a Kosart bucket to make it 52-47 and the Vols were officially off to a bad start in the second half. But Schofield was able to come through with a jumper to give the Vols a 54-47 lead and some momentum.
That momentum was quickly halted as Silva sliced through three Volunteer defenders for an easy bucket. South Carolina had now hit 6/7 shots to start the second half.
A huge turnover from Gravett lead to another Schofield bucket and gave the Vols a 58-52 lead with 15:29 left. Each team traded a couple more shots and even though Schofield continued to play well, Tre Campbell wanted to show that he could do just as much, if not more.
Campbell nailed his second three of the game to make it a 60-55 game. Silva continued his first half play, making his second block of the game soon after on Schofield, which led a Schofield foul on Campbell.
The problem? It was a three-point attempt.
Campbell hit all three free throws and now the Vols led just 60-58. Colonial Life Arena was rocking and all the momentum was with the home team.
But two key free throws from Bone and a big defensive stop yielded excellent passing that led to another three-point shot from Bone. The Vols quickly silenced the raucous crowd and led, 65-58.
Consecutive threes from both Turner and Schofield pushed the lead to 71-61 with 10:12 to play. Now that Schofield appeared to be out of his recent slump, it was time for the Vols to kick it into high gear.
They did just that, mounting an 18-6 run highlighted by a sick layup by Turner off a great bounce pass from Schofield. Tennessee was able to get out to a 78-65 lead with 7:20 to play in the game.
The Vols continued to pour it on, using a five minute scoring drought from the Gamecocks to build an 84-66 lead. South Carolina had missed six straight shots before Campbell hit another three to end the drought and cut the lead down to 84-69.
Alexander fouled out of the game with under four minutes to play. He would finish the game with two points on 33 percent shooting in 10 minutes.
But it wouldn’t matter as the Vols would go on to destroy the Gamecocks, 92-70
Tennessee will head out on the road once again to take on the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday, February 2nd. Tip-off is scheduled for 8PM EST.