Haley Salvador / The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks host top-ranked Volunteers

After a non-conference game at Oklahoma State, South Carolina will return to SEC play this week. 

South Carolina (10-9, 5-1 SEC) will take on the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (18-1, 6-0 SEC) for both teams' first SEC game since participating in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Tennessee, who has won its last two games since claiming the top spot in the AP poll, has only lost one game this season. Tennessee's only loss came at the hands of the Kansas Jayhawks in an overtime game at Allen Fieldhouse on Nov. 23. 

Since then, the Vols have won 14 straight games and will look to make it 15 ahead of their conference matchup with the Gamecocks. 

The Gamecocks, who are 3-2 in their last five games, are coming off of a 74-70 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They will look to improve on their 5-1 SEC record, having already beaten Florida, Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Auburn. 

Last season, Tennessee won both meetings against South Carolina. A key component for the Gamecocks on Tuesday night will be how they try to stop Tennessee’s eighth-ranked offense which is averaging 86.1 points per game. 

This includes limiting Tennessee's Grant Williams, who is averaging 20.2 points in 19 games. Williams’ teammate Admiral Schofield rounds out the top five in scoring in the SEC with 16.6 points per game. 

While South Carolina head coach Frank Martin will look for his players to shut down Williams and Schofield, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes will look for his guys to control South Carolina forward Chris Silva in the paint, and force Gamecock freshman guard A.J. Lawson into tough shots, as he has averaged 15.3 points in his last four games.

Even with a top-ranked Tennessee team coming to Columbia, Martin is confident that the Gamecocks will play well in front of their home crowd, even after a loss on the road. 

"I know we're going to play well tomorrow," Martin said to SportsTalk Radio Network, "I just hope we play well enough to win." 

A win over Tennessee would only be the second-ever win over a No. 1 team in program history. The only other win over a No. 1 team was a 68-62 victory over Kentucky on Jan. 26, 2010 at Colonial Life Arena. 

The Gamecocks and Volunteers will tip off for the first matchup between the two in the 2019 season at Colonial Life Arena Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The game can also be seen on SEC Network. 

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