Thornwell’s 22 leads South Carolina to 70-60 win at Tennessee

Courtesy: South Carolina Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.South Carolina (13-3, 3-0 SEC) picked up a 70-60 road win at Tennessee (8-8, 1-3 SEC) Wednesday night, as head coach Frank Martin earned career victory No. 200. Senior Sindarius Thornwell finished with 22 points, including 16 in the second half, as the Gamecocks improved to 3-0 in league play for the first time since 1997.

A made layup by sophomore Hassani Gravett gave Carolina its first lead of the game, 8-6, with 11:56 to go in a physical first eight minutes. The Gamecock defense held the Volunteers to 20 percent shooting (3-for-15) to start the game, including an 0-for-9 field goal draught.

A 3-pointer by sophomore PJ Dozier pushed the lead to 13-7 with 10:44 on the clock. Tennessee snapped its field goal draught with 8:40 to go, as it cut the lead to 13-9. South Carolina answered with a 5-0 run to push the lead to 18-9 with 7:50 left, forcing a timeout by Vols head coach Rick Barnes.

Two layups by freshman Rakym Felder extended the lead to double-digits as the Gamecocks led 24-11 with 5:14 to go and 27-14 at the under four media timeout with 3:55 left in the half.

Tennessee responded with a 9-0 run to end the half, cutting the lead to 27-21 at the break. Gravett led the way with in the first half with seven points. Thornwell had six to lead the starters. Carolina’s defense forced 14 turnovers in the first half and held the Vols to 24 percent shooting (6-for-25). The 21 points allowed marked the ninth time this season the Gamecock defense held its opponent below 30 points in the first half.

Carolina came out of halftime swinging, as senior Duane Notice hit a 3 from the right wing to cap a 7-0 run that put the Gamecocks ahead 34-21 with 18:28 to go. Tennessee answered with a 6-0 run over the next 2:15 to trim the deficit back to single-digits, 34-27, at the first media timeout of the second half with 15:45 left.

A Gravett 3-pointer in front of the South Carolina bench off an out of bounds play put the Gamecocks ahead by 10, 43-33, with 12:51 to go. The lead was cut to seven, 50-43, with 8:28 on the clock after a layup by Robert Hubbs III.

Thornwell then scored his 20th point after splitting the defense for a close-range bucket to put Carolina up comfortably, 58-47 with 4:27 left in the contest. A layup by freshman Maik Kotsar made it 60-47 just before the final media timeout with 3:48 to go.

South Carolina remained ahead by nine or more the remainder of the game en route to the 70-60 victory. Gravett finished with 12 points and Notice with 11. Kotsar led the way on the glass with eight boards.

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