No. 22 Tennessee hangs on to beat South Carolina
Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) – JaJuan Smith scored a game-high 21 points and
added seven rebounds as the 22nd-ranked Tennessee Volunteers held on to defeat
the South Carolina Gamecocks, 64-61, at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Smith finished 7-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-9 from three-point
distance. Wayne Chism chipped in with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and pulled
down 10 rebounds for Tennessee (14-5 overall, 2-2 SEC), which snapped a four-
game losing streak.
Tre Kelley had a team-high 18 points for South Carolina (10-7, 0-4 SEC), which
has dropped five straight contests. Dominique Archie added 12 points on 6-of-7
from the floor and Evaldas Baniulis had 10.
After Kelley hit a jumper giving South Carolina a quick 7-2 lead early in the
contest, Tennessee settled down, going on a 16-6 run led by JaJuan Smith, who
accounted for 10 points during the Volunteers spurt. Tennessee held an 18-13
advantage with just under nine minutes remaining in the opening half.
The Gamecocks trailed 26-22 with 3:54 left in the half, but the Vols got two
free throws from Ryan Childress, a three pointer from Smith and a pair from
the line from Duke Crews to take a 33-22 lead heading into the intermission.
The Volunteers maintained a comfortable lead throughout the early stages of
the second half and opened up a 46-31 lead following a jumper by Smith with
just under six minutes into the stanza.
“I said here after the Mississippi State game that all SEC victories were
precious, but what I do not want is for them to be precious and few,”
Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl said. “On the heels of three close losses and
losing our All-America player, we could have folded. This situation did not
build character; it revealed character.”
South Carolina was not about to go down quitely however. The Gamecocks
answered by going on a 16-4 run and after a made basket by Dwayne Day, the
Vols’ lead was cut to 50-47 with 5:24 left in the game.
Tennessee kept the Gamecocks in check down the stretch, but a three-pointer by
Baniulis trimmed the Volunteers advantage to 59-55 with 48 ticks
remaining. However, Ramar Smith made a pair of free throws on the ensuing
possession and Tennessee was able to hold on in the waning moments.
Tennessee is 23-2 at Thompson-Boling Arena over the last two seasons…The
Volunteers lead the all-time series 26-22 versus South Carolina…The
Gamecocks shot 41 percent from the field, including 38 percent from three-
point distance…The Vols also shot 41 percent from the floor, but were only
4-of-17 from behind the arch.