After enduring a few blowout losses over the past couple weeks, the South Carolina Gamecocks entered Knoxville looking to make things interesting against the No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers. While they succeeded in making the Vols sweat, the Gamecocks came up just short in their bid for an upset, falling 70-67 on Tuesday night.
South Carolina went to the half trailing just 38-34, and stayed within striking distance of Tennessee thanks in part to an 81% performance from the free-throw line. But an ill-timed scoring drought after the Gamecocks had tied the game early in the second half allowed Tennessee to jump out to a 14-point lead, and South Carolina was forced to play catchup. Despite being hamstrung by starters’ foul trouble — Felipe Haase and Jason Cudd saw extended minutes, and even Ibrahim Foumake Doumbia made a rare appearance — the Gamecocks stayed in it and had a chance to tie the game on their final possession. But Justin Minaya’s 3-pointer fell short, and the Volunteers (19-6, 9-4 SEC) escaped.
Frank Booker led the Gamecocks with 19 points, and Chris Silva and Hassani Gravett added 12 each. While South Carolina (13-13, 4-9) continues its slide with a sixth straight loss, it was nonetheless encouraging to see some effort and fight from this team after it had looked so listless against recent competition. Wins may remain elusive, but there’s some hope if the Gamecocks can keep turning in competitive performances like this.
Up next: The Gamecocks return home to host No. 10 Auburn on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.