The 2014-15 regular season comes to an end tonight for this edition of the South Carolina Men's Basketball team.
After the home finale Thursday night against Arkansas, the Gamecocks hit the road for the final act of Frank Martin's third year at the helm. USC tips-off with the Tennessee Volunteers in a late afternoon match-up that will have little effect on the SEC Tournament next week.
South Carolina is currently in 11th place and has locked themselves into one of the two games next Wednesday that pits the 11th seed vs. 14th seed and the 12th vs. the 13th. UT is tied for the ninth position with Alabama but would be the 10th seed next week at the moment because the Tide own the tiebreaker.
The Gamecocks suffered a disappointing loss on Senior Night just a few days ago in Columbia. Shortly before halftime Arkansas built a 20-point lead on South Carolina. The home team battled back and even built themselves a lead of their own. USC was up by as much as 11 late in the second half. Arkansas switched to their extra gear and outscored the Gamecocks 20-3 in the final seven minutes of the ball game. No. 18 Arkansas escaped with a win but the Gamecocks put up a good fight against a nationally ranked opponent.
South Carolina shot a season high 50.1 percent in the game. Senior point guard Tyrone Johnson scored 18 points to go with six assists and three steals to complete a solid Senior Night. The senior suffered a minor knee injury and cramps with 2:30 left to play and was not able to return in the games closing moments.
Today's game will be the second match-up between the two schools this season. Back on January 20, the Volunteers left Colonial Life Arena with a 66-62 road win early on in the SEC season. The cause for many losses this year, second half scoring droughts, doomed South Carolina in that game but Sindarius Thornwell had one of the best games of his sophomore season. The wing led the Gamecocks with 17 points and seven rebounds while knocking down eight of his nine free throw attempts.
The Vols are led by senior guard Josh Richardson who averages 15.7 points per game, a mark that ranks sixth in the SEC. Richardson also averages two steals a game which leads the league. Junior forward Armani Moore had a solid outing last time out against South Carolina and he pairs with Richardson for a nice inside-outside duo. Moore averages 11.1 points per game and a team-high 6.9 rebounds per outing. Most recently, Tennessee took down tourney-bound LSU on the road, 78-63. Richardson led the way with 20 points, three assists, and five steals in the win.
UT is just 2-6 in SEC games at home this season and have lost four in a row within the airport hanger that is Thompson-Boling Arena. That mark is embarrassing but it shouldn't matter against the Gamecocks. The Vols own USC. The 66-62 win in January was UT's 15th-striaght win in the series. Tennessee has won the last 11 meetings at home against South Carolina.
South Carolina is searching for its first win in Knoxville since 2002. The quest begins at 4 p.m. ET on FSN where James Bates and Matt Carroll will have the call.