The Gamecocks take on Cuonzo Martin's Tennessee Volunteers this evening at 8:00 ET. The Vols won the first matchup between these two teams, 69-57. The contest was largely controlled by UT, although Carolina did make it interesting at times. That game was in Knoxville; this one is in Columbia. Tennessee currently sits at 15-13, an overall record that belies a solid 7-6 conference performance; the team has played better since talented forward Jarnell Stokes came in to provide much-needed bolstering to the Vols' front line.
One thing to note about the game is that Carolina hasn't beaten UT since the 2006-2007 season, when it won 81-64 in Columbia. Under ousted coach Bruce Pearl, the Vols were a huge thorn in the side of the Gamecocks; Pearl owned us. It would be hard to call anything about this season a large-scale win for the program, but I'm sure that a lot of us would like to see Darrin Horn and his team put this losing streak to rest.
One thing the Gamecocks will need to do to end their woes against the Big Orange will be to defend the three much better. Perimeter defense has been a sore spot for Carolina all season, and in Knoxville, Tennessee made us pay, shooting 10-20 from beyond the arc. The key player to watch is Skylar McBee, a sharpshooter who hit 4-7 against us last time.
The other key thing is for us to find some kind of offense from a player not named Malik Cooke. And no, I don't mean Bruce Ellington or Damien Leonard scoring 10 off 15-20 FGA. Those two players are likely the key, though. We need one or both of them to shoot the ball well if we're going to have anything resembling a solid offense. Other guys that can help us include Brenton Williams and Anthony Gill. I expect Damontre Harris to get his points, but he scores more off dishes and put backs, so I don't really think of him as being someone who can lead on the offensive end.
I have some faith in us slowing down Tennessee's offense; as far as us scoring more points, that I'm not so sure about. Therefore, I'm expecting a bit of a slugfest in this one. Hopefully the Gamecocks can come out on top, like they did against Georgia.