A day of struggles at the foul line ended on a high note for USC as Maik Kotsar made four straight pressure free throws in the final 21 seconds, and the Gamecocks rallied for a 63-61 win over Tennessee at the Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks improve to 16-9 and 8-4 in the SEC with their 3rd straight win and sixth in last seven games. They will remain in at least a tie for 4th with Florida in the SEC standings pending the outcome of the Gators’ game at Vanderbilt.
Inside the Gamecock victory
- USC trailed 58-52 with 3:40 to play, then went on a 7-0 run to take the lead on a three-pointer by AJ Lawson. John Fulkerson, who had a career high 25 points, put the Vols back up with a layup with 1:15 left.
- The Vols forced a Trae Hannibal turnover on a bad pass, but the Gamecocks played tough defense and Kotsar came up with a steal and was fouled as he raced to the basket. He made both free throws to put the Gamecocks back on top for good 61-60 with :21 left.
- More strong Gamecock defense on the next possession as Keyshawn Bryant drew a charge on Fulkerson. Kotsar again is fouled going down the court and he nailed two more free throws for a 63-60 lead with :07 left.
- The Gamecocks fouled Josiah-Jordan James before he could get off a three on the Vols’ next possession. He made the first free throw, missed the second intentionally off the front of the rim and ran down the loose ball near the baseline. James fired off a shot that was off the mark and the Vols were not able to get off another shot as the game expired.
- It was a struggle offensively all game for USC, just as it was in the one point loss at Tennessee in January. The Gamecocks finished at 40% from the floor, were 4-13 on threes and 19-32 from the line.
- USC’s defense also made it tough on Tennessee. The Vols finished with a 43% shooting night and 20 turnovers which the Gamecocks converted to 16 points.
- Kotsar led the Gamecocks with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Jermaine Couisnard added 12. The Gamecocks also got a boost off the bench from Jalyn McCreary who had 8 points and 4 rebounds in the first half. But he suffered a head injury and was not able to play in the second half.
- Final Box
Frank Martin postgame press conference
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes postgame press conference