Gamecocks close out SEC campaign with rout of Vols

uschoops-24utThe South Carolina men’s basketball team closed out the regular season in a big way Saturday afternoon, taking down Tennessee on the road with a 60-49 win. Four Gamecocks reached double figures in scoring, led by 14 from Michael Carrera. The win evens the team’s record at 15-15, 6-12 in the SEC, while Tennessee falls back to 15-15 and 7-11 in conference play.

After making nearly 60 percent of its shots in the first meeting back on Jan. 20, the Volunteers threatened to repeat their performance early in the game. Converting on four of its first five attempts, Tennessee jumped out to an early 10-5 lead before Carolina put its foot on the gas offensively.

Boosted by 3s on back-to-back possessions from Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell, the Gamecocks hit a stretch where the team made five straight field goals and 9-of-11 from the 16-minute mark until eight minutes remained in the half. It entered that streak trailing 6-2, but emerged with a 26-14 lead after a jumper by Michael Carrera, who scored six points in that stretch.

The home side’s fast start quickly devolved into a major slump. The 4-of-5 start was followed with just three field goals in the final 15:29 of the game. Carolina’s lead would climb as high as 15 points and it carried a sizable 36-21 lead into intermission. Of that total, 16 points came in the paint and 13 were directly off turnovers.

The Gamecocks shot 62 percent from the field (13-of-21) with 11 assists. Carrera and Notice led the way with eight apiece, while Tyrone Johnson added five points and three assists. It marked the third straight game that the team scored 36 points or more in the opening half.

Photo courtesy of UT Athletics

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