Gamecocks stun No. 14 Tennessee
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) – Tre’ Kelley scored 25 points and Renaldo
Balkman added 16, leading South Carolina to a 79-71 upset of 14th-ranked
Tennessee in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at
Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Tarence Kinsey chipped in 14 points for the Gamecocks (17-14), who shot 70
percent in the second half and avenged a pair of losses to Tennessee during
the regular season with a relatively easy victory. South Carolina will play
third-seeded Kentucky in Saturday’s semifinals.
C.J. Watson scored 23 points for the Volunteers (21-7), who won the SEC East
Division in head coach Bruce Pearl’s first season. Tennessee, which has lost
three of its last four, will still earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina, meanwhile, will likely have to win the SEC Tournament to reach
the NCAA field.
Tennessee scored the first five points and led 8-2 just 3 1/2 minutes into the
game after a three-pointer by JaJuan Smith, but South Carolina kept its
composure and tied it four minutes later at 12-12 on a bucket by Balkman.
It remained close until the final minute of the first half when Kelley drained
a three-pointer and added a jumper to send the Gamecocks into the break with a
The momentum carried into the second half, as South Carolina scored six of the
first eight points to build a 39-29 lead. Tennessee followed with the next
four, but Kelley buried a three-pointer and Kinsey added a pair of free throws
to restore South Carolina’s double-digit cushion.
The Gamecocks maintained a lead of between eight and 12 points for the next
several minutes, then extended it to as many as 17. A tip-in by Brandon
Wallace off a missed jumper by Balkman gave South Carolina a 61-44 advantage
with just over five minutes to play.
Tennessee pulled within nine two minutes later on a layup by Chris Lofton, but
the Gamecocks scored the next six points and were never really threatened the
rest of the way.
A three-pointer by Lofton with 11 seconds remaining made it a 77-71 game.
South Carolina made 14-of-20 shots in the second half and finished shooting 55
percent for the game.
Lofton finished with 12 points and Smith scored nine in defeat…South
Carolina outscored Tennessee 40-22 in the paint…The Volunteers made 11-of-29