COLUMBIA, SC – A monster second half powered South Carolina (21-8, 11-5 SEC) to an impressive 82-55 home win over Tennessee (15-14, 7-9 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks out-scored the Volunteers 44-25 in the final 20 minutes, and four players scored in double figures, led by sophomore PJ Dozier’s 19 points.
Six points off five turnovers helped Carolina push out to an 8-2 lead at the first media timeout with 15:52 to go. Sophomore Chris Silva had four points early for the Gamecocks. The Volunteers came within three, 10-7, but Carolina used an 8-2 run to take an 18-9 lead at the under 12 media timeout in the first half. The Gamecocks started the game 6-for-12 (50 percent) from the floor and were 6-of-7 (86 percent) at the charity stripe.
Freshman Rakym Felder found Thornwell for an easy transition bucket, forcing Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes to take a timeout with 8:50 on the clock, his team trailing 24-9 after Carolina extended the run to 16-2. Senior Duane Notice knocked down a three to give the Gamecocks their biggest lead of the half, 27-9, just before the under eight media timeout. Turnovers continued to lead to points for Carolina, as the team tallied 14 of its first 27 points off takeaways.
Tennessee cut the deficit to 12, 32-20, at the final media timeout of the first half with 3:46 remaining. After the Gamecocks’ lead went back to 15 with just under three minutes to play in the opening half, the Volunteers closed on an 8-1 run to trail 38-30 at the break.
Dozier was the only player in double figures on either side at the half, as he scored 11 on 5-of-10 shooting. Thornwell and Notice each has six, while Felder (5) and freshman Seedee Keita (4) had nine of the team’s 11 first half-bench points. Grant Williams and Robert Hubbs III each had eight points to lead the Volunteers.
The teams exchanged buckets out of the break, and the game remained tight, 43-38, at the first media timeout of the second half with 15:52 remaining. Colonial Life Arena erupted after back-to-back Notice 3-pointers put the Gamecocks in front with a commanding 51-38 lead, forcing a Barnes timeout with 14:34 to play. The long ball was Notice’s fifth 3 of the game and his third of the half.
A Dozier layup with 13:29 remaining put Carolina in front 55-38 and the lead remained steady at 17 at the under 12 media timeout, 57-40, with 11:15 to go. Consecutive 3s, this time by Felder and Thornwell, gave the Gamecocks their first 20-point advantage of the afternoon, 63-43, with 9:01 to play.
The lead remained 63-43 at the under eight media timeout with 7:38 to go and stayed at 20, 70-50, at the final media timeout after a Thornwell dunk. Carolina led by 20 the rest of the way en route to the 82-55 win.
Notice (15), Thornwell (15) and Felder (12) joined Dozier in double figures for the Gamecocks. Those three, along with Dozier, combined for 33 of the team’s 44 points in the second half.