In other words: the Vols have an opportunity to take down one of the SEC’s hottest teams in its own house on Saturday.
It won’t be easy. As I said, the Gamecocks are playing really good basketball, lately. They’ll also be looking for revenge after a 56-55 loss in TBA earlier in the year.
One thing’s for sure, Tennessee has shown over the year that its not afraid of any challenge.
But will the Vols be able to overcome said challenge on Saturday?
Conference Record and Standings
- Southeastern Conference
- 15-9, 7-4 (t-4th)
- Won last two
G A.J. Lawson: 14.0 PPG, 43.2 FG%, 73.6 FT%, 35.7 3PT%, 3.4 REB, 1.9 AST, 2.0 TO, 1.1 STL, 27.8 MIN
It’s easy to see why Lawson is South Carolina’s best player. He can do everything as a 6-foot-6 guard and when he gets going, he’s hard to slow down.
He can be sloppy with the ball at times, which should bode well for Tennessee. If the Vols can use their length to make life tough in the lane, then there’s a good chance they can force Lawson into mistakes.
But if he’s allowed to get going, it will free up everyone else around him, which would not be good for Tennessee.
F Maik Kotsar: 10.3 PPG, 51.5 FG%, 64.5 FT%, N/A 3PT%, 6.4 REB, 1.1 BLK, 2.1 AST, 1.5 TO, 29.5 MIN
Even though he probably won’t light up the stat sheet, this guy will likely be Tennessee’s biggest problem on Saturday.
That’s because he will likely require the attention of more than one defender for most of the game. Uros Plasvic is still finding his way on the court and while Yves Pons will certainly be involved, there will be times where he will be focused on other assignments.
Kotsar can beat you down low, he can rebound, and he can even dish it out to his teammates. He literally has a better assist-to-turnover ratio than Lawson, the team’s best point guard.
He can also block shots.
As I said, this guy will be an issue on Saturday.
Frank Martin couldn’t have been more happier with his team’s performance against the Bulldogs. It was true “Martin-ball”, as the Gamecock defense smothered the Georgia offense en route to a 75-59 win earlier in the week.
The Gamecocks had 10 steals in the victory and led 27-5 with six minutes remaining the first half at one point. Georgia All-Star Anthony Edwards led the way with 16 points, but he was held to 4-of-13 from the floor, including an 0-of-7 mark from the perimeter.
“They just outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” said Edwards. “Every aspect of the game. That’s all I can say.”
Lawson was the Gamecocks’ leading scorer with 20 points of his own. Three other players scored at least 10 points and Alanzo Frink led the team with nine rebounds.
It was the second straight win in which the Gamecocks held its opponent to under 60 points.
It’s obvious that the Vols are going to have to find some offense on Saturday, which isn’t really their forte, BUT the good thing is they are coming off of one of their best offensive performances of the season.
It’s perfectly reasonable to worry about Kotsar due to his size and effectiveness in the paint. South Carolina’s offense is a grind-it-out, beat-you-up down low type of offense, so if the Vols can find a way to curtail the post game, then South Carolina should have a tough time scoring.
This will be a defensive game. I’m talking low, low-scoring. But as we saw earlier in the year, the Vols can go toe-to-toe with these guys.
Just like the previous games, there’s no telling how this one will go. I do like Tennessee’s defense against SC’s offense, but SC has just as much an advantage the other way around.
The Vols dig deep and pull this one out for their second straight win.