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Jan. 21, 2015

Final Stats | Quotes | USATSI Photo Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

Team 1st 2nd Total
Tennessee (12-5, 4-1 SEC) 31 35 66
South Carolina (10-7), 1-4 SEC) 26 36 62
Coach Martin
Sindarius Thornwell & Demetrius Henry

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Despite coming across a hot-shooting Tennessee team that would convert on nearly 60 percent of its attempts, the South Carolina men’s basketball team (10-7, 1-4 SEC) found itself down by just two points late in the game Tuesday night. It’s rally back from a 17-point deficit would come up short, though, as the Volunteers (12-5, 4-1) won 66-62. Sindarius Thornwell led the team with 17 points.

The Volunteers broke the game open early after a hot stretch from the floor. With the game tied 6-6 five minutes in, Tennessee would hit on 3-of-4 attempts from 3, turning it into a 18-10 advantage just four minutes later. Michael Carrera would snap Carolina’s three-minute scoreless streak, and an unlikely source would keep the visitors from pulling away.

On the Gamecocks’ very next possession, Marcus Stroman found himself open from deep and sank just the second 3-pointer of his college career to make it a 20-15 game. Three turnovers forced in just over a minute of play would help Carolina inch even closer, trailing 22-19 with seven minutes left to play.

The Vols would hit a scoreless streak of their own late in the half, going over four minutes without a point. It would be turnovers at the root of the drought, as Tennessee committed five in that stretch to allow Carolina to tie the game back up at 22 with 4:14 to play. The Gamecocks weren’t able to capitalize fully, shooting just 3-of-9 during that same stretch.

A pair of baskets on consecutive possessions would push the Tennessee lead back to multiple possessions, 27-22, and it would carry a 31-26 lead into the halftime break. Despite allowing the Volunteers to hit half of their first-half attempts (11-of-22), strong offensive rebounding and nine turnovers forced would give Carolina nine extra shots from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.

While four of Tennessee’s made field goals came from 3, Carolina countered with 22 points in the paint and seven offensive rebounds. Stroman and Sindarius Thornwell paced the offense with five points apiece, but the team’s three leading scorers entering Tuesday night (Thornwell, Duane Notice and Tyrone Johnson) combined to hit just 5-of-20 shots in the half.

A blistering start to the second half would extend the visitor’s lead, as Tennessee made 8-of-11 shots overall and all five 3-pointers in the first 11 minutes of the final frame. The streak saw the Volunteers’ lead grow as large as 17, 56-39, with just under nine minutes to play.

The Gamecock offense would not help its case early on, but used a quick run with under four minutes to play to wake up the crowd at Colonial Life Arena. Trailing 62-47, a basket from Demetrius Henry and back-to-back 3s from Justin McKie and Thornwell would cut the lead to single digits. The seven-point deficit was the closest Carolina had been in over 14 minutes, but it would be the impetus for its final rally.

Tennessee continued to hit from the field to great effect, but it would not be as successful at the free throw line, and the Gamecocks would use that as the focal point of its rally. The Volunteers went without a field goal attempt for the final two minutes and made just one basket in the run of play over the final 4:21.

Over that same span, Carolina would close with a 15-4 run, but its inability to convert offensively would come back to haunt it one last time. Though it would hit all five free throws in the final 90 seconds and saw Tennessee make just two of its seven chances at the line in the same span, the Gamecocks went 1-of-8 from the field down the stretch and fell just short of the miraculous comeback.

The Gamecocks would get within two, 64-62, with 32 seconds left after a tip-in from Michael Carrera. The Volunteers countered with a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game and put the rally out of reach.


After missing its first two shots of the second half, Tennessee would score on six straight possessions to turn a five-point halftime lead into a 46-31 lead with 15:11 to play. The Volunteers hit three 3s, a pair of free throws and two layups during the early burst.

KEY STAT The Volunteers just could not miss from 3-point range in the second half, making five straight out of the halftime break and six of their first seven to build a 17-point lead just 11 minutes in. Tennessee made 10 3s in the game and shot 55.6 percent from deep. The previous high by an opponent was UNC Asheville, who made 51.7 percent.


  • Sindarius Thornwell led the team in scoring with 17 point. It was the sophomore’s highest-scoring game since posting 20 against Charlotte on Nov. 21. He added a season-high eight free throws made to go along with his four field goals.
  • Michael Carrera pulled down a season-high nine rebounds (five offensive) in the game, six of which came in the second half. As a team, South Carolina recorded 17 offensive rebounds and limited Tennessee to five.
  • Carolina made 14-of-15 free throw attempts in the game (93.3 percent), including all 13 second-half attempts. The mark is the highest in the Frank Martin era.
  • Tennessee’s 55.6 percent success rate from 3-point range is the second highest among opponents making 10 or more 3s during Martin’s tenure. Four different Tennessee players made two 3-pointers.
  • After a 4-of-17 night from 3-point range, South Carolina is now shooting 29.2 percent in SEC play. Opponents are converting on 39.7 percent of its attempts.

QUOTABLE South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin

Opening Statement
Well that was pretty. We continue to slide instead of grow, and that’s why I’ve been talking about leadership, focus and energy. We have had none since we got back from New York. We haven’t handled success real good. Unless that changes, we’ll continue in the world that we are in now, instead of the world we were in in December and earlier this month. This league is too good, and it’s a shame. You deal with November and December, and try to learn lessons so you don’t get into all these selfish games that we’re playing right now within our team. It hurts more in league play because these teams are too good for us to play like that. We haven’t handled winning the right way. I’ve tried to stay positive but we have been no good since we got back from New York. The attention to detail, enthusiasm, energy, everything we worked to create for leading into that game in New York, stayed up in Brooklyn, it didn’t come back with us. I’ve tried to stay positive, I’ve tried to figure out a way to get guys into that mindset we had. But the selfishness and individual talents aren’t going to help us win. Unless our players realize that, it’s going to be hard to change. We’re back in school and guys have to go back to class. We haven’t shot the ball worth a you know what since school started, not one time have we shot the ball well since school started. Guys need to find the time to come to the gym and shoot balls. They had the time in November and December, but now they’re not doing it. But unfortunately, we have these things called rules that force them not to do things past a certain time period. All of a sudden we’re too good, and we don’t need to come in and practice. We got what we deserve.


South Carolina will host top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday at Colonial Life Arena at Noon on ESPN. South Carolina is 1-10 all-time vs. the AP No. 1, with the lone win coming against the Wildcats on Jan. 26, 2010, in Columbia. Kentucky has won six of the last seven meetings between the two schools, but the Gamecocks won the last matchup, a 72-67 win over the then-No. 17/15 Wildcats on March 1, 2014, also in Columbia. Mark Jones and Dick Vitale will have the call for ESPN.