One day later than initially scheduled, Tennessee and South Carolina met at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Volunteers once again needed a boost of confidence, following their up-down trajectory of the 2020-21 season. Against the Gamecocks, the good version of Tennessee showed up.
Hot shooting had South Carolina very much in this game early. The Gamecocks hit 7-10 shots from deep in the first 15 minutes, keeping pace with a pretty efficient Tennessee offensive attack. AJ Lawson was the catalyst for Frank Martin, scoring ten early points. He was backed up by TJ Moss, who added ten points of his own.
Tennessee’s answer was more balanced, but it was led by Victor Bailey. The junior guard has been up and down in his first season in Knoxville, but he was white hot in the first half today. Bailey led the way in the first half with 14 points for the Volunteers, hitting 4-7 shots from deep. Jaden Springer added ten points, while Yves Pons put up eight on 4-5 shooting.
It was a 50 point half for Tennessee — a great thing to see considering the struggles that we have seen out of them lately.
The Volunteers caught the Gamecocks at a good time. South Carolina was down two starters — two of their top four scorers — which made things tough for Martin’s group on Wednesday night. Jermaine Couisnard and Justin Minaya were both on the bench tonight following injuries over the weekend.
Despite the absences, the Gamecocks didn’t go away. Jaden Springer and John Fulkerson kept coming at South Carolina on the offensive end, but AJ Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant were able to keep pace in the opening moments of the second half.
Tennessee held a 66-57 mark after eight minutes of play in the second period. South Carolina cut the lead to seven with nine minutes to play, but Bailey quickly squashed that run with another three. Fulkerson added to the lead with a couple of slams on the next possessions. Suddenly the lead was 14, and Tennessee had total control.
The Volunteers cruised to win No. 15 from there, finishing off the Gamecocks to the tune of 93-73. Victor Bailey Jr. led the way with 29 points, shooting 7-10 from three. Fulkerson was next with 19, finally starting to look like his old self again.
Tennessee will welcome Kentucky to Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.