Maik Kotsar led USC against Tennessee with 17 points (FILE/Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

AJ Lawson came down the floor in the final seconds in Knoxville Saturday afternoon with the game in his hands and looking for a call. But that call went against the USC sophomore guard and with it a chance for a key SEC road victory. Lawson was whistled for a charge as he drove the lane with 1.4 seconds left, and the Gamecocks never got that last shot at victory in a 56-55 loss to the Vols. It’s the third straight loss for the Gamecocks and their fourth in a row to UT. They are 8-7 overall and 0-2 in the SEC.

Key notes from USC’s loss at Tennessee

  • Three of USC’s five starters…Lawson, Justin Minaya and Jair Bolden…combined to go 0-16 from the floor and scored just 6 points. Minaya did lead the Gamecocks with 10 rebounds.
  • The Gamecocks led 39-31 with 13:47 left, but the Vols went on an 11-2 run to take a lead they would not relinquish.
  • USC had a chance to win in the final three seconds after the Vols missed a desperation three at the shot-clock buzzer and Lawson grabbed the rebound and sped down the floor. Frank Martin chose to not call a timeout and let his leading scorer try and make a play in transition.
  • The Gamecocks turned up their defensive effort and held the Vols to 26% shooting. The Gamecocks were only slightly better at 33%. But Tennessee made 6 three point shots to the Gamecocks’ 2, and outscored USC from the line 22-13. The Gamecocks missed 8 free throws in the second half.
  • Maik Kotsar led USC with 17 points and Jermaine Couisnard added 15 points off the bench. They were the only Gamecocks to score in double figures.
  • USC is back at home Wednesday night at 6:30 PM against Kentucky

Frank Martin postgame press conference