Tennessee (15-13) at South Carolina (10-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) -- Columbia, South Carolina. Television: FSN-S. Home Record: UT 13-3, USC 9-7. Away Record: UT 1-8, USC 1-8. Neutral Record: UT 1-2, USC 0-2. Conference Record: UT 7-6, USC 2-11. Series Record: Tennessee leads, 36-23.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Southeastern Conference rivals try and take a step forward in the standings tonight, as the South Carolina Gamecocks welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.
Tennessee bounced back nicely from a loss to Alabama with a thorough 73-60 victory over Ole Miss at home on Wednesday. The Vols overcame a rocky start to place five players in double figures and outrebound the Rebels, 40-28. UT converted 11 turnovers into 20 points and outscored Ole Miss by a 26-10 margin off the bench. Junior Jeronne Maymon led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Jordan McRae came off the bench to score 16. Trae Golden added 11 points and five assists, as the Volunteers earned their fifth win in six games to improve to 7-6 in the SEC.
South Carolina struggled to mount any kind of consistent offensive attack in dropping a 59-48 decision at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. The defense did well to hold Vandy to 38.5 percent shooting but the Gamecocks managed just a 32.7- percent shooting clip and attempted a mere foul shots to the Commodores' 25- of-28 showing at the stripe. Bruce Ellington paced the effort with 15 points and Damien Leonard added 10 points as USC lost for the seventh time in eight tries to stumble to 2-11 in league action.
Tennessee has owned this series of late and comes into Saturday's matchup riding a 10-game win streak against the Gamecocks. The Vols most recently captured a 69-57 victory in Knoxville on February 8. UT holds a 36-23 edge in the all-time series, although USC has a 14-11 advantage in Columbia.
The Volunteers get a number of contributions on the offensive side, but at the end of the day remain fairly pedestrian. Overall, UT averages 68.6 points per game and shoots a decent percentage from the field at 44.3 percent. The sophomore Golden is the Vols' top scoring option at 13.0 ppg and stands among the league leaders in assists with 4.7 per game. Maymon is a solid second option at 12.5 ppg with a 57.0 shooting percentage while ranking among the SEC's elite rebounders with 8.0 per game. McRae and Cameron Tatum add depth at 9.0 and 7.8 ppg, respectively, while Skylar McBee averages 6.6 points and leads the club with 52 threes on 39.4 percent shooting. Jarnell Stokes has stepped up recently as well, posting 8.4 ppg thus far in 11 games. The defense does well to hold opponents to 65.1 ppg and a 41.8 shooting percentage while the Vols' rebounding game stands second in the SEC with a plus-3.3 margin (36.2-33.0).
The Gamecocks struggle on offense and sit second from the bottom in the SEC at 61.5 ppg on just 40.7 percent shooting. The defense allows it to be somewhat competitive in holding opposing teams to 64.6 ppg -- but strangely on a league-worst 44.6 percent shooting from the field. The Gamecocks don't do themselves any favors in the rebounding department either, securing a conference-low 31.2 per game. Despite having a favorable rebounding defense at 32.9 per contest, USC's margin stands second from the bottom in the SEC. Malik Cooke's 12.2-point average paces the offense and his 4.7 rpg are tied for second on the club with Anthony Gill and behind Damontre Harris (5.4 rpg). Ellington slots in second on the team with his 10.4 ppg followed by Gill (7.7 ppg), Harris (7.0 ppg) and Leonard (6.7 ppg), who is also USC's top three- point threat with 45 on 31.7 percent shooting.
Tennessee has improved dramatically as the season works toward the SEC Tournament, getting solid production from a number of sources. USC is still trying to figure out how to win and should find the Vols on top of their game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 65, South Carolina 56
02/25 10:37:21 ET