Wednesday features an SEC matchup as the South Carolina Gamecocks (12-11, 7-3 in the SEC) travel to the Thompson-Boling Arena to take on the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers (22-1, 10-0 in the SEC).
For the Gamecocks, even though they have a modest 12-11 overall record, they have performed well in the SEC, going 7-3 and ranking fourth in the conference. They come into this one 2-2 in their last four, including losses at No. 5 Kentucky (76-48) and a home loss to Tennessee (92-70) back on January 29th. Now playing on the road, they will need a much better showing to beat the best team in the country.
For the Volunteers, their lone loss was against Kansas back on November 23rd. Since then, they have won 18 games in a row, including an undefeated run in the SEC. In their first game against South Carolina, they were led by Grant Williams (23 points, 9 rebounds) and Admiral Schofield (24 points, 9 rebounds). South Carolina and Tennessee will square off again Wednesday with tipoff scheduled for 6:30 pm ET.
In this contest, the Tennessee Volunteers come in as 16-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for this game is set at 155 points.
By The Numbers
Offensively, Tennessee has been one of the best teams in the country. They currently rank 7th overall averaging 85.4 points per game. They are especially dominant when it comes to their efficiency, shooting 51.6% from the field (2nd in the nation). They also distribute the ball well, also ranking 2nd in the nation as they average 19.9 assists per game. For South Carolina, they rank 145th overall, averaging 74.1 points per game.
On the defensive end, it is once again the Volunteers leading the way, as they rank 73rd in the country, allowing an average of 67.3 points per game. Not only does Tennessee shoot it well, but they also prevent opponents from doing the same. They are letting opponents shoot just 39% from the field, which ranks 13th overall. For South Carolina, they are allowing 73.7 points per game to opponents, which ranks 240th in the country.
Gamecocks Looking For Signature Win
For South Carolina, their record is certainly not where they would want it to be, but they have to be encouraged by their record in the SEC. What could top it off would be an upset over the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. While they weren’t able to take care of business at home a couple of weeks ago, they will look to catch them napping in Tennessee.
Leading the way for South Carolina is the duo of Chris Silva and A.J. Lawson. For Silva, the senior forward is averaging 13.7, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He is also shooting 52.1% from the field. For Lawson, the guard is also averaging 13.7 points in addition to 4.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
The only other double-digit scorer is guard Hassani Gravett. He is averaging 10.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Forward Keyshawn Bryant is close, averaging 9.3 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Volunteers Look To Remain Perfect In The Conference
It has been a remarkable season for Tennessee this year, but they have to be careful of the occasional letdown game. While they were able to take care of South Carolina earlier in the game, you still have to expect that coach Rick Barnes will have his squad ready to roll at home.
Leading the way for the Volunteers is junior forward Grant Williams and senior Admiral Schofield. Williams is averaging 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. For Schofield, he is averaging 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1 steal per game.
The most remarkable thing for this solid Tennessee unit is that they still have three other players averaging double-digits. Jordan Bone (13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists), Lamonte Turner (11.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists) and Jordan Bowden (11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists) have all played well.
Tennessee Doubles Up On Victories
I have a hard time seeing South Carolina winning this game. Tennessee is simply superior in every element of the game and if Tennessee’s 22 points win over the Gamecocks wasn’t bad enough on January 29th, this time the Volunteers get to play at home. Unless Tennessee just has a major letdown, my money is on them running away with this one. For me, I am taking Tennessee despite laying the 16 points.