South Carolina vs. Tennessee
Date: Saturday, January 7th
Time: 3:30 PM
Where: Colonial Life Arena - Columbia, SC
The Gamecocks are seeking to bounce back from their first SEC loss of the season versus Vanderbilt against the superior team from Tennessee in the SEC, the Tennessee Volunteers. This will be South Carolina’s toughest matchup of the season, with Tennessee being ranked 2nd in KenPom’s latest advanced metric ratings as well as 8th in the latest AP Poll.
To keep things simple, Tennessee is a really, really good basketball team. They have multiple players who can score at any given moment, as well as play aggressive, tenacious defense. The Volunteers currently have four players averaging double figures in points, with another averaging 9.8 points per game. One of these players is Santiago Vescovi, a senior guard from Uruguay. Vescovi does quite literally everything well on the court, especially on defense, where he swipes 2.4 steals a night.
Another player the Gamecocks have to look out for is sophomore guard Zakai Zeigler. Zeigler only stands at 5-foot-9, but makes his presence felt, mostly on defense. Zeigler is right behind Vescovi, averaging 2.3 steals a game while also putting up 10 points a night.
South Carolina will have to play almost perfectly if they want to even dream about coming out on top over the Volunteers. The Gamecocks just simply cannot expect to shoot free throws as bad as they do and turn the ball over that much and expect to win. South Carolina shoots an atrocious 60.7% from the charity stripe, which is now 655th in the country. The turnovers have been down some, with less than 10 in two of the last three games, but still leave room for improvement.
GG Jackson has got to step up offensively for this game, and just in general. In his last four games, Jackson is only averaging 15.5 points per game, which isn’t that bad until you throw in his shooting percentage, which is 38 percent. In order for Carolina to put up a fight, GG needs to show up.
The guard play for the Gamecocks has been well recently, with Chico Carter Jr. and Meechie Johnson Jr. both having their respective games of 20-plus points. Unfortunately, they will both have to play almost better than they have been for this win.
KenPom is giving the Gamecocks a 5% chance to defeat Tennessee with a score prediction of South Carolina 52, Tennessee 70
My Prediction: South Carolina 57, Tennessee 75