Tennessee (14-8, 5-4 SEC) vs. South Carolina (8-14, 1-8)
Saturday, Feb. 8, 3:05 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) . Knoxville, Tenn.
Radio: Vol Network (WGOW-FM 102.3, Chattanooga)
Series Record: Tennessee leads 38-23
Probable South Carolina Starters
G-Duane Notice, 6-2, 221, FR (7.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.9 apg)
G-Brenton Williams, 5-11, 172, SR (14.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, .432 3FG%)
G-Sindarius Thornwell, 6-5, 206, FR, (13.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, .365 3FG%)
F-Michael Carerra, 6-5, 215, SO, (6.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg)
C-Demetrius Henry, 6-9 215, FR (5.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, .434 FG%)
Key Reserves:Mindaugas Kacinas (7-0, 215); Justin McKie (6-4, 195, FR); Laimonas Chatkevicius (6-7, 210, SO)
Probable Tennessee Starters
G-Darius Thompson, 6-5, 180, FR, (3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.8 apg)
G-Jordan McRae, 6-6, 185, SR, (19.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.8 apg)
G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 190, JR, (9.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .423 3FG%)
F-Jeronne Maymon, 6-8, 260, SR (11.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.7 orpg)
F-Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, 260, JR, (13.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 4.3 orpg)
Key Reserves:Antonio Barton (6-2, 180, SR); Derek Reese (6-8, 220, SO); D’Montre Edwards (6-6, 205, SR); Pops Ndiaye (6-10, 275, JR)
The opening tip
If all had gone as planned, Tennessee would be trying wrap up a four-game winning streak and then would be moving on to a crucial two-game stretch against Florida and Missouri.
But Wednesday’s trip to face Vanderbilt didn’t go as expected and the Vols now must regroup and take care of business against a young South Carolina team to avoid an even shakier status on the NCAA tournament bubble.
That’s been the issue all year for this talented UT team. The Vols looked to be hitting their stride after comfortable wins over Ole Miss and Alabama, but the Commodores, playing with just seven scholarship players, held on for a 64-60 win over UT, setting the Vols back yet again.
And while the Vols haven’t strung together more than two consecutive SEC wins this season, they also haven’t lost consecutive conference games. They have a good chance to keep that streak alive against a reeling South Carolina squad that is just 1-8 in SEC play. Nothing is a given in league play, however.
Though the Gamecocks have clearly struggled, they did knock off Texas A&M – a team Tennessee lost to at home – and have only dropped their last two SEC games by a total of nine points. With Tennessee’s up-and-down play this year, there are few certain wins left on the schedule.
“I mean it’s tough for us, but we just got to make sure everyone on the team doesn’t stop and keeps going harder in practice, doing everyday things like that.”
– Tennessee guard Jordan McRae on trying to stay consistent
Tennessee is currently riding a three-game home winning streak . Tennessee junior forward Jarnell Stokes is the only SEC player averaging a double-double in SEC play (13.8 ppg, 12.1 rpg). . Senior forward Jeronne Maymon has hit 18 consecutive free throws. . A win would give UT a 13-game winning streak over the Gamecocks, the longest current streak over any SEC opponent. . UT senior swingman D’Montre Edwards is a South Carolina resident.
Tennessee 70, South Carolina 58
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter@DanielNooga