The Gamecock men’s basketball fell to Tennessee 85-45 on the road Saturday in the teams’ second matchup of the season.
On Jan. 7, the Volunteers beat the Gamecocks 85-42 in Columbia, and South Carolina was unable to create much more success in the rematch.
The loss marks the second time the Gamecocks have scored less than 50 points in a game this season, the other being the first game against the Volunteers.
“It feels like déjà vu all over again," head coach Lamont Paris said. "Just the way that it was played.”
The Gamecocks were able to improve its shooting about 10% from the first matchup against the Volunteer defense, bettering a 25% field goal percentage from January by hitting 35.2% of its shots from the floor tonight.
However, this still came nowhere near Tennessee’s 58.1% field goal percentage that allowed the home team to convert nearly double as many shots as South Carolina. Much of that scoring came in bunches, as the Volunteers managed 8-0 and 11-0 scoring runs in the first half, as well as a 14-0 run in the second.
“I think the physicality is a big part of it,” Paris said. “They’re on one end of the spectrum physically, in terms of how physical they play, and we’re probably more towards the finesse side of things.”
When the Gamecocks needed to improve and find opportunities most in the second half, the team only seemed to struggle more.
South Carolina scored fewer points and managed fewer rebounds in the final 20 minutes, adding just 19 points and 13 rebounds in the second half to 26 points and 17 rebounds from the first half.
“There were some good things in the first half,” Paris said. “(We) didn’t shoot the ball well necessarily and went in down 12 and felt okay ... then just was looking forward to trying to come out in the second half and cut into that, and it went the other direction.”
This decline was made even worse by Tennessee’s own improvements after halftime. After socring 38 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the opening half, the Volunteers added 47 points and 19 rebounds to close the game.
Individually, Gamecock graduate forward Hayden Brown matched Tennessee’s leading scorer, Josiah-Jordan James, with 18 points, but no other player on the South Carolina roster made it above 7 points.
“We, as a collective group, had a hard time scoring,” Paris said.
And while South Carolina’s junior forward Josh Gray led all players on the court in rebounds, the Volunteers as a team managed four more boards than the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks fall to 10-19 on the year and 3-13 in the SEC.
The team will be back in action on the road one final time this season for a game at Mississippi State on Tuesday at 9 p.m.