Late UT run sinks Gamecocks, 63-55

With a star player not scoring and shots not falling, the Gamecocks were forced to dig deep in order to hang with a nationally ranked Tennessee team that gave them a 26-point blowout in their last meeting. However, despite leading at halftime, it was not enough, as the Volunteers went on a late run and used their strong inside presence to get stops on defense, and get the win, 63-55.

"We came into this game knowing it would be tough with Tennessee's talent," said Horn. "With all of the games we've played, we've wanted to put ourselves in a position to be there in the last five minutes and to have a chance to make some plays and win the game. We just had a stretch where we did not score at all."

Not only was Devan Downey cold from the field in the first half, the Gamecocks could not take advantage of the 3-ball, shooting 4-14 from beyond the arc in the opening half. It's hard to imagine it getting worse from downtown, but that's exactly what happened, with USC dropping to only 8% shooting on 3-pointers with just 1-12 falling in the second half.

Although South Carolina seems to have made a habit of falling behind early and battling back, they were able to hold their lead despite Downey's small contribution of 3 points in the first half.

With Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince in foul trouble during the latter stages of the first half, the Gamecocks were able to take a slim four point advantage into the halftime break. With Downey off his usual pace, Brandis Raley-Ross was able to pick up the slack, adding 10 in the opening frame.

The Gamecocks were able to outscore the Vols by 4, despite shooting only 33% from the field. In the first half alone, the Gamecocks took 13 more shots than Tennessee, and threw up 22 more in the game. As they have had to do many times after the dismissal of several players earlier this year, UT was able to get contributions of the bench with 7 first half points.

Bench contributions became a huge key for the Vols down the stretch, outscoring USC's bench by a total 20-3 margin.

Still, the Gamecocks failed to take advantage of several chances early to widen the gap, leading by as many as six, at 28-22.

With a little over eight minutes left in the game, the Vols were able to take control with a quick 11-3 run, and never looked back. Although the Gamecocks continued to throw up 3's with the hopes of going on a run of their own, they continued to miss from long range.

Tennessee's inside defense was too strong late, forcing the Gamecocks into ill-advised shots, both inside of and outside the arc.

"I think their length is always an issue but it only bothered us to some degree because we quit doing what our game plan was which was to attack off their movement," said Horn.

The Tennessee rally started with 8:16 left in the game with Kenny Hall throwing down a dunk to give the Vols a 1-point advantage. From there it was back-to-back shots from both Chism and Prince, extending the lead to 5 before Downey was able to make a 3.

From there the Vols were able to lengthen the lead to as many as 12 before the final whistle. Coach Horn said that fatigue was not a factor for his team in this game, and he would refuse to let it become an excuse for poor play in the remaining SEC schedule.

"It's a combination of things," alleged Horn. "The reality is that this isn't a news flash, we're not in a position where we can have those kinds of lapses against this kind of team."

The Gamecocks limited Wayne Chism to 11 points, but the Vols were helped by Bobby Maze with 14 and J.P. Prince with 10. Chism and Prince both missed significant time with foul trouble, but their play late sealed the deal for the Vols. Prince, despite just 1-4 shooting from the field, hit 8-10 from the free throw line.

Brandis Raley-Ross scored 16 points to lead the Gamecocks and go with Downey's 15. Freshman Lakeem Jackson contributed 10 in the losing effort.

With the loss, USC dropped to 5-7 in the conference.

Carolina will once again hit the road for a game this Thursday at Kentucky. The Wildcats will no doubt be looking for revenge after their 68-62 loss at Colonial Life Arena earlier this season.

With a conference record that is sinking and postseason possibilities continuing to decline, coach Horn and his staff know that they will have to keep competing every night, and hoping that in the end, their results will speak for themselves.

"We're going to keep playing," noted Horn. "We need to move forward in a way that we understand that we are building a program regardless of how games turn out. And that's going to be the case whether it's five years from now or if we were undefeated right now, that's going to continue to be the focus."

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories