Upon entering the postgame press conference after his team’s showing against visiting South Carolina, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes quipped, “That was really a thing of beauty, wasn’t it?”
The sarcasm in his tone was palpable. In the Vols’ first game without former guard Detrick Mostella, Tennessee squandered several opportunities in a sloppy 70-60 loss to South Carolina on Wednesday night.
Both teams struggled to find their stroke in the early going, as the two teams combined to score only 14 points almost midway through the first half. The Gamecocks eventually found their footing, going on a 19-9.
Trailing 27-14 with a little under four minutes left in the opening half, the Vols transformed into a different team and mounted a furious comeback.
But as halftime came, so did another quick surge from South Carolina.
Similar to its performance in the first half, Tennessee muscled its way back to within single digits several times in the second half, but couldn’t close the gap enough to truly threaten the Gamecocks.
Both team committed 22 turnovers, but the most glaring difference between the two squads came from beyond the arc. South Carolina converted on 7-of-13 three-point shots, while the Vols went an abysmal 1-of-11, with the lone three coming from Lamonte Turner in the second half.
Barnes didn’t mince words after the game.
“Our offensive performance was woeful,” Barnes said. “I just did not enjoy watching our team play tonight.”
It wasn’t just shooting from behind the three-point line. Tennessee couldn’t buy a basket, finishing the game 17-of-52 from the floor.
For South Carolina, this victory marks head coach Frank Martin’s third against the Vols and the Gamecocks’ third SEC win of the season.
“That’s awesome for our guys,” Martin said. “It’s awesome for our fans, but it’s not gonna help us beat Ole Miss on Saturday. From games like this, we gotta figure out a way to build confidence. They just brought it to us, and we answered the bell.”
Tennessee travels to Nashville this Saturday to take on its in-state rival, the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Tip-off is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET at Memorial Gymnasium. The game will be shown on SEC Network.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Randy Sartin, courtesy of USA Today
Sports editor Jake Nichols has been part of the TNJN staff in two different capacities. His freshman and sophomore years, Jake worked as a staff writer before moving on to write for Rocky Top Insider, and he also worked with VFL Films and the SEC Network for a semester his junior year. When asked the summer before his senior year to return to TNJN as the sports editor, Jake jumped at the chance to end his time in Knoxville working with the organization he first began with as a freshman. Jake is excited to help lead younger writers, much like former editors Cody McClure and Jordan Dajani aided him. Jake also does freelance sports coverage and photography for The Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn., and in his spare time, he can be found with family, his girlfriend or driving his Jeep, most likely with his Canon in tow. Be sure and follow Jake on Twitter and Instagram at @jnichols_2121, and keep up with TNJN Sports on Twitter as well!