COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — A monster second half powered South Carolina (21-8, 11-5 SEC) to an impressive 82-55 home win over Tennessee (15-14, 7-9 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks out-scored the Volunteers 44-25 in the final 20 minutes, and four players scored in double figures, led by sophomore PJ Dozier’s 19 points.
Six points off five turnovers helped Carolina push out to an 8-2 lead at the first media timeout with 15:52 to go. Sophomore Chris Silva had four points early for the Gamecocks. The Volunteers came within three, 10-7, but Carolina used an 8-2 run to take an 18-9 lead at the under 12 media timeout in the first half. The Gamecocks started the game 6-for-12 (50 percent) from the floor and were 6-of-7 (86 percent) at the charity stripe.
Freshman Rakym Felder found Thornwell for an easy transition bucket, forcing Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes to take a timeout with 8:50 on the clock, his team trailing 24-9 after Carolina extended the run to 16-2. Senior Duane Notice knocked down a three to give the Gamecocks their biggest lead of the half, 27-9, just before the under eight media timeout. Turnovers continued to lead to points for Carolina, as the team tallied 14 of its first 27 points off takeaways.
Tennessee cut the deficit to 12, 32-20, at the final media timeout of the first half with 3:46 remaining. After the Gamecocks’ lead went back to 15 with just under three minutes to play in the opening half, the Volunteers closed on an 8-1 run to trail 38-30 at the break.
Dozier was the only player in double figures on either side at the half, as he scored 11 on 5-of-10 shooting. Thornwell and Notice each has six, while Felder (5) and freshman Seedee Keita (4) had nine of the team’s 11 first half-bench points. Grant Williams and Robert Hubbs III each had eight points to lead the Volunteers.
The teams exchanged buckets out of the break, and the game remained tight, 43-38, at the first media timeout of the second half with 15:52 remaining. Colonial Life Arena erupted after back-to-back Notice 3-pointers put the Gamecocks in front with a commanding 51-38 lead, forcing a Barnes timeout with 14:34 to play. The long ball was Notice’s fifth 3 of the game and his third of the half.
A Dozier layup with 13:29 remaining put Carolina in front 55-38 and the lead remained steady at 17 at the under 12 media timeout, 57-40, with 11:15 to go. Consecutive 3s, this time by Felder and Thornwell, gave the Gamecocks their first 20-point advantage of the afternoon, 63-43, with 9:01 to play.
The lead remained 63-43 at the under eight media timeout with 7:38 to go and stayed at 20, 70-50, at the final media timeout after a Thornwell dunk. Carolina led by 20 the rest of the way en route to the 82-55 win.
Notice (15), Thornwell (15) and Felder (12) joined Dozier in double figures for the Gamecocks. Those three, along with Dozier, combined for 33 of the team’s 44 points in the second half.
Carolina’s defense was stifling after halftime, holding Tennessee to just 25 percent (6-for-24) shooing from the field in the game’s final 20 minutes. The Volunteers shot just 33 percent (18-for-54) for the game.
- Prior to today’s game, Frank Martin and his wife, Anya, along with Charlotte Price and Maggie Barrett (USC students and the 2017 co-directors for Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life), presented a $579,000 grant check for cancer research to Dr. Jan Eberth, a University of South Carolina Mentored Research Scholar.
- Dozier’s 19 points were his most since scoring 21 vs. Alabama on Feb. 7.
- Thornwell has now scored 15-plus in every SEC game this season except one. He’s scored 15-plus in 21 of the 23 games he’s played in this season overall.
- Notice finished with five 3s, marking the sixth time this season he’s made four or more shots from deep. Four of the six have come in SEC games.
- The Gamecocks scored 23 bench points, led by Felder’s 12. It was his first game in double figures since he scored 13 in a road win at Missouri on Jan. 28.
- Carolina scored 27 points off of 20 Tennessee turnovers Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks have forced 20-plus turnovers in six SEC games.
- The Gamecocks have now won 11 SEC games, matching the second-most conference wins all-time for a single season.
- Carolina has now beaten the Volunteers three times in a row, marking the longest win streak over Tennessee since the team won six-straight from 1995-98.
South Carolina hosts Mississippi State on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. ET matchup on ESPNU. The game will serve as Senior Night for a trio of Carolina guards in Justin McKie, Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell. Senior managers Dalton Abel, Paul Dransfield and William Saxman, along with head senior managers Treis Huggins and Jacob Freeze will also be honored during the Senior Night Ceremony. Mike Couzens (pxp) and Brooke Weisbrod (analyst) will have the call for ESPNU.