The Gamecocks stretched the lead to 24-6 and again to 38-14 before the Vols went on a 13-2 run at the end of the first half to trail 40-27 at intermission. A good start in the second stanza could have put the Vols back into contention, but again it was South Carolina that got off to a 12-2 run to build a 23-point lead and put the game out of reach.
S.C. held its largest lead at 26 points while the Vols couldn't get any closer than 18 after the Gamecocks pulled away.
The Vols actually shot better than in one-sided road losses to Nebraska and Florida, hitting 44 percent from the field (23 of 52), but defense was again a culprit.
"You can't afford that on the road," Peterson said on the Vol Network of the Vols slow start. "Our defense is what really let us down."
The Gamecocks connected on 33-of-55 field goal attempts for the game (63 percent) including 11-of-17 three-point attempts. South Carolina hit 66 percent in the second half and 63 percent in the first half, as Tennessee has allowed opponents to shoot 60 percent or better in the last four periods on the road.
Tennessee was led in scoring by C.J. Watson and Brandon Crump with 15 points each. John Winchester added 10 points. However UT's leading scorer Scooter McFadgon was held to only seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Even shooting 20 free throws to S.C.'s seven wasn't enough to stave off a Gamecock rout. The Vols also held their own on the boards, trailing South Carolina only 31-27 in rebounds.
The biggest difference in the contest was a trapping S.C. defense that was deployed out of a morphing match-up zone. The Gamecocks forced 13 turnovers in the game and limited the Vols to only seven assists. Conversely, South Carolina had 11 turnovers and 25 assists as the Gamecocks consistently broke down UT's defense. The Vols started the game in a 2-3 zone but the Gamecocks hot shooting forced a change to back to Tennessee's base man-to-man.
The Vols will be back home for a pair of games against Kentucky and Louisville. The Wildcats will be coming into Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday off an upset loss at home to Georgia. Tennessee's next road game is Jan. 28 at Mississippi State.