UT cold-cocks Cocks, 80-56

Tennessee used a spurt at the start of the first half and another at the start of the second half to manhandle South Carolina 80-56 Saturday night in Columbia.

The eighth-ranked Vols outscored the Gamecocks 11-0 to open the game and 20-3 to open the second half, taking the fight right out of the hosts.

"We just jumped on 'em right right from the start," UT head coach Bruce Pearl said on his post-game show. "Our kids were excited about playing, and they were very, very prepared."

The win, Tennessee's ninth in a row, improves the Vols' record to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in SEC play. The Gamecocks drop to 8-8 and 0-2.

JaJuan Smith continued his fine play, pacing Tennessee with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.

"If you looked at his energy – the way he was playing and the way he was guarding early – it was 11-0 on the road," Pearl said. "We sent those guys a message that we came here to do a job."

Wayne Chism, limited to just 14 minutes by foul trouble, still managed to chip in 13 points. Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince added 11 apiece. All-American Chris Lofton's struggles continue. He sank just 1 of 4 from 3-point range and finished with 5 points.

Devan Downey led Carolina with 24 points. Dominique Archie and Zam Fredrick added 11 each.

Chism picked up two fouls in the game's opening five minutes but finished the half with 9 points in a mere six minutes. He incurred foul No. 3 just 35 seconds into the second half, and Mike Holmes' ensuing free throw narrowed the gap to 43-36.

Tennessee caught fire at this point, however. Tyler Smith sandwiched two assists to Chism for layups around a breakaway bucket by Lofton, bumping the lead to 49-36. After a 10-foot jumper by Archie, the Vols went on a 14-0 run. Jordan Howell scored on a putback to open the spurt. Prince scored on a dunk, then JaJuan Smith cashed in on an inbounds steal.

Ramar Smith, who was 0-7 from the floor but 8-8 from the line, hit a couple of fouls shots, then Prince added a 6-footer. Ramar Smith then closed the Vols' 14-0 burst with two more free throws.

"The start of the second half, they came out of the locker room very excited about playing," Pearl said. "Normally, it's close early and then we get away at the end of the game because we're playing nine guys and the pressure defense. But that wasn't the case."

Up 61-38 with 13:35 remaining, the Vols coasted home from there.

"The last 10 minutes," Pearl noted, "it was just playing not to lose."

Tennessee shot just 42 percent from the floor but played an excellent game defensively. The visiting Vols limited Carolina to 37 percent from the field and just 23.8 percent (5 of 21) from beyond the arc. The Vols also forced 17 turnovers (six more than SC's average) and outrebounded the Gamecocks 43-31.

Tennessee hosts No. 13 Vanderbilt Thursday at 7. The Commodores suffered their first loss after a 15-0 start Saturday at Kentucky.


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