basketball Edit

MBB: Tennessee pulls away from South Carolina

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS MEN'S BASKETBALL

Tennessee pulled away from South Carolina in the second half for a 92-70 win.

South Carolina stayed within striking distance for most of the game, and even cut Tennessee’s lead to 60-58 midway through the second half. But then Tennessee’s explosive offense took over. Jordan Bone scored five straight, and then Admiral Schofield and Lamonte Turner made a pair of threes and in the blink of an eye the two point game was a ten point game.

Silva’s first-half performance was outstanding, reminiscent of Devan Downey against Kentucky or Sindarius Thornwell against Alabama. Silva had 22 points, six rebounds, and a block in the first half, single-handedly keeping South Carolina in the game.

Not surprisingly, Silva could not continue playing at that pace. Tennessee didn’t change anything at halftime, but Silva was less effective in the second half. Silva said he wasn’t tired, but Frank Martin thought he was. Both agreed that South Carolina didn’t do a good enough job of getting him the ball. Silva still finished with 28 points, ten rebounds, and two blocks, the second-highest scoring game of his career.

“I gave everything I had in the first half and I still had energy,” Silva said. “They did what we expected them to do as far as doubling the post. I didn’t do a good enough job of making myself available in the second half.”

“He was in a street fight all by himself and nobody helped him,” Martin said. “I think he wore down a little but.”

Mostly though, South Carolina just couldn’t keep pace with Tennessee and its litany of scorers. Every time South Carolina would lock down on one player, another player would make a basket. Tennessee entered the game shooting 51 percent from the floor and was even better Tuesday night, shooting 56 percent.

“They’re relentless at making the right play on offense and defense. Every time we made a mistake they made us pay,” Martin said. “They played downhill the whole game.”

Grant Williams, the SEC’s leading scorer, went for 23 points and nine rebounds. The battle between Williams and Silva, to of the conference’s best forwards, lived up to the hype even though they only matched up one-on-one occasionally.

Bone added 19 points and nine assists. Turner, who hurt the Gamecocks last season, only had 13, but they seemed all come at critical moments. Schofield led the Vols with 24 points, and also grabbed nine rebounds, and Rick Barnes credited Schofield for turning the tide of the game with the three-pointer in the second-half that put the Vols up 10.

“I thought he was really locked in,” Barnes said. “He let everything come to him.”

The game had no flow due to seemingly constant whistles by the officials. Calls were inconsistent from possession to possession and only served to prevent players from getting into a rhythm and take the sellout crowd, which had a healthy dose of orange, out of the game. In fact the only time the garnet- and orange-clad fans were united was when they chanted “Refs you suck!”

There were 39 fouls called and 49 free throws attempted, but it wasn’t just the number of fouls called, it was the inconsistency. On the plus side, South Carolina shot 29 free throws, nine more than Tennessee, reversing a free throw disparity that had plagued South Carolina recently. Neither team shot well from the line, though. Tennessee went 13-20 and South Carolina was 17-29. And yes, Tennessee missed two free throws late to give the fans free chicken.

Notes:

Injured Justin Minaya took shots with the team in warmups, but did not dress. Minaya has not played since November 18 due to a knee injury. … South Carolina finished with just seven assists on 23 made baskets. Tennessee had 17 on 36. … Maik Kotsar had eight points and four rebounds. A.J. Lawson had nine points and five rebounds. Tre Campbell had 14 points, his most since scoring 15 against Stony Brook. … Tennessee was without sixth man Jordan Bowden, who is averaging 16.2 points in SEC games. … Keyshawn Bryant played with a hyperextended left knee. He was scoreless with three fouls in 10 minutes. … Announced attendance was 18,000. It was the first sellout of the season, the twelfth for men’s basketball at Colonial Life Arena, and fifteenth for men and women at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina dropped to 5-7 in sellouts at Colonial Life Arena. … South Carolina’s next game is Saturday at Georgia.

ALSO SEE: USC-Tennessee box score