Vols draw on renewed energy to survive a scare from South Carolina, 70-67

The Tennessee basketball team was looking to put a humiliating loss to Alabama last Saturday behind them with a great performance against South Carolina last night, and it’s a good thing they came out with a lot more energy and focus than they displayed against the Tide because without it, they would have lost to a Gamecocks team that was on a five-game losing streak.

As it turns out, though, that energy, effort, and focus translated into a good 70-67 win over Frank Martin’s South Carolina team in Thompson-Boling last night.

They looked much better right out of the gate, but the Gamecocks were looking good as well, and the Vols had a tough time pulling away. They led by as many as 10 points in the first half and went into halftime leading 38-34.

Carolina came out swinging in the second, though, and tied the game at 40 early. When Tennessee answered by going on an 18-5 run, the Gamecocks responded with a 10-0 run of their own.

As the game wound down, Carolina continued chipping away at the Vols’ lead and narrowed it to a single point with 36 seconds left. At that point, the Vols advanced the ball to halfcourt, called a timeout, and designed a play for Grant Williams on the block. Good call, as Williams hit a well-contested shot just before the double-team arrived and put his team up 70-67 with 11 seconds to go.

Rick Barnes instructed his team to foul on Carolina’s final possession, and they didn’t, but Carolina missed a desperation three anyway, and the Vols went to the showers with a 70-67 win.

Williams led Tennessee with a solid all-around night:

Despite the return of the energy, defense, and focus that has characterized this team most of the season, the recent trend of turnovers by Tennessee’s guards is beginning to become a bit worrisome. It’s entirely unexpected for a team with such a high assist percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio on the season.

But it was a win, and the Vols move to sole possession of second place in the SEC standings with a record of 9-4, 1.5 games behind Auburn. Next up is a trip to Georgia this Saturday at 6:00 p.m.


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