Vols rebound from loss at A&M to beat South Carolina

Published 3:43 pm Monday, February 27, 2023

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For a second time this season, Tennessee defeated South Carolina by at least 40 points, taking down the Gamecocks in dominant fashion, 85-45 Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee’s pair of wins over South Carolina totaled an 83-point margin, as the Vols won 85-42 in Columbia on Jan. 7. Tennessee has won each of the last six meetings in Knoxville against the Gamecocks and 10 of the last 11 meetings overall in the series.

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The Vol’s four total turnovers Saturday tied the program’s record for fewest in a game (tracked since 1977-78).

Five Vols scored in double figures Saturday as Tennessee assisted on 29 of its 36 made field goals. UT, which lost 68-63 on Feb. 21 at Texas A&M, shot 58 percent from the floor and just over 43 percent (10-of-23) from 3-point range.

Coming off a four-game injury absence, Josiah-Jordan James tied for a game-high scoring effort, leading the Vols with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including a 4-of-7 mark from 3-point range, two rebounds and an assist. Jahmai Mashack logged 14 points, connecting on 5-of-7 field-goal attempts and made both of his 3-point attempts to go along with six rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals.

Zakai Zeigler posted a double-double, scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field—including his 3-of-4 clip from beyond the arc—and dishing out a career-high 11 assists.

Olivier Nkamhoua recorded an efficient performance, totaling 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, eight rebounds and five assists in the win. Uros Plavsic finished with 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting effort. Santiago Vescovi logged seven points, four assists and four rebounds.

South Carolina had just one player score more than seven points, with Hayden Brown registering 18 points on a 7-of-14 shooting effort.

James led Tennessee in scoring in the first half, coming off the bench for 10 points in as many minutes. Zeigler and Plavsic weren’t far behind, scoring eight apiece in the opening half. Tennessee matched South Carolina’s first-half point total of 26 with 26 points of its own just in the paint, taking a 12-point lead into the break, 38-26.

Early in the second half, Jonas Aidoo hammered down an alley-oop dunk off a Zeigler assist to put Tennessee up by 19 points, before a Nkamhoua jumper the following possession gave the Vols their first lead of 20 points, leading by 21 at 51-30.

With just under nine minutes remaining in the game Saturday, Tennessee had four double-figure scorers—Zeigler, Nkamhoua, Plavsic and James—compared to one for South Carolina, Brown.

Through the first 13 minutes of the second half, South Carolina amassed just four made field goals with five turnovers. At that point, just three Gamecocks had registered points in the second half, combining for eight points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field.

Tennessee used a 22-5 second-half run to take a 73-39 lead and ended the game on a 34-11 run over the final 12:35 of play. UT made six of its final seven field-goal attempts on the night.

Tennessee is back inside Thompson-Boling Arena for the final time this season for Senior Night, taking on Arkansas on Tuesday at 9 p.m.