Tennessee's lackluster defensive effort enabled a Gamecock team that was shooting just 39 percent for the season to burn the nets for 61.5 percent in the second half Saturday, turning a five-point halftime lead into a lopsided victory.
"It was very disappointing to not be able to close out better at each position," Pearl said. "And the fact that we left shooters consistently ... KEPT on leaving shooters."
Although Tennessee's defensive play was awful, it was only slightly worse than the offensive performance. After producing 25 assists and just 8 turnovers in Tuesday's upset of No. 20 Kentucky, the Vols registered 8 assists and 13 turnovers against the lowly Gamecocks, who had dropped five games in a row coming into the game.
Pearl bemoaned his team's "impatience offensively," noting: "Whereas we had 25 assists against Kentucky, we had three assists (vs. Carolina) at halftime and eight for the game. It was an absolute season low."
Tennessee scored the game's opening basket Saturday, then went ice cold. Meanwhile, South Carolina hit its first five shots and eventually built a 25-14 cushion.
"All of a sudden you're down 10 right away, and then you get impatient," Pearl said. "Everybody wants to win it. Everybody wants to get a basket. (Everybody adopts the mindset) 'I'll get it back' and we take an early shot.
"There were a lot of factors there."