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Men’s Basketball Preview: South Carolina vs. #11 Tennessee

Another ranked matchup. Can the Gamecocks get it done?

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina vs. Tennessee
Date: February 25th, 2023
Time: 6:00 PM
Channel: SECN
Where: Thompson-Boiling Arena - Knoxville, TN

South Carolina is heading into Knoxville to take on the 11th ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Volunteers currently hold a strong 20-8 record, and are ranked 6th in the KenPom’s latest advanced metric rankings.

The Volunteers are one of the most well-rounded basketball teams in the nation. They have multiple players who are threats to put up 20 or more points on any given night. The Volunteers have three players averaging double figure points, and three players lingering just below that. In order for the Gamecocks to pull off this upset, it’s going to require great defense all around.

Santiago Vescovi leads the team in points per game with 12.6, and also has quick hands on defense, swiping 2 steals a night. Zakai Zeigler is arguably the most impressive player on this Volunteers squad, performing every faucet of the game at a high level. Zeigler is a great facilitator, leading the team with 5.3 assists. Zeigler can also get a bucket when he needs to, averaging 10.9 points a night. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Zeigler is also impressive on defense, swiping 2 steals a night to match Vescovi.

Per usual, GG Jackson is going to have to have a good night for South Carolina to pick up this victory. Jackson had an impressive first half against Alabama, but seemed to fall apart as the game went on, shooting 2-10 in the second half. This cannot be the case tonight, as Jackson has got to stay consistent throughout the entire game in order to be valuable when the game is coming down to the wire.

Staying on the topic of games coming down to the wire, the Gamecocks have got to learn to handle pressure. Multiple times this season, the Gamecocks have folded in clutch moments and looked like a middle school team, running around not knowing what to do. This is seemingly what happened vs. Alabama, as the Gamecocks essentially allowed Brandon Miller to score a free bucket in the final seconds of overtime. For South Carolina to pick up any tough win, handling pressure is a must.

Jacobi Wright has been a huge reason as to why the Gamecocks have been playing much better recently. Compared to his start to the season, Wright has done a complete 180 with the way he has been playing. Last game vs. Alabama, Wright had 18 points, and he is averaging 13.8 points throughout his last five games. If Wright can have another impressive night, South Carolina might just be able to pick up a win.

KenPom is giving the Gamecocks a 3% chance to walk out of Knoxville with a win over the 11th ranked Volunteers with a score prediction of South Carolina 53, Tennessee 74

My Prediction: South Carolina 60, Tennessee 78