Tennessee won its 12th straight game over USC Sunday afternoon at the Colonial Life Arena 66-61 thanks to late offensive rebounds and a pair of three point shots. It was a tight game throughout with 12 ties and 16 lead changes.
The Gamecocks have not defeated the Vols since the 2007 season. The loss drops USC to 12-11 overall and 2-8 in the SEC. The Gamecocks have lost four in a row. Tennessee is 12-10 overall and 4-6 in the SEC.
Two Damien Leonard free throws put USC up 57-55 with with 3:46 to play. Jordan McRae responded with a three pointer to give the Vols a 58-57 lead. Bruce Ellington missed a three for the Gamecocks on their next possession and that opened the door for the Vols to extend their lead.
Trae Golden was off target on a three pointer but Darnell Stokes grabbed the offensive rebound, and that eventually led to a three pointer by Skylar McBee for a four point lead.
Brian Richardson missed a three for the Gamecocks and Tennessee came down the floor with a four point lead. McBee missed a three pointer but Stokes again grabbed the rebound to allow the Vols to run more clock. McRae missed a jumper with :59 left and Ellington was fouled going to the basket. He made one of the two foul shots to cut the deficit to three.
The Gamecocks put Trae Golden on the line and he hit both shots for a 63-58 lead with :46 left. Ellington missed a layup 20 seconds later and McRae iced the win with two more foul shots for a seven point lead with :23 to play.
Richardson did can a long three with :13 left to make it 65-61 but those would be the Gamecocks’ final points.
“Different day, same book,” said USC coach Frank Martin. “Different title, same book. Some how, some way you’ve got to keep fighting and put yourself in the place where you’ve got a chance to win, and when you are in that moment eventually you’ve got to find the courage and the determination and the discipline to make the plays you need to make to win these kind of games.”
Carrera led USC with his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Richardson added 17 points. Stokes led the Volas with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Golden had 16 points off the bench. The Vols’ bench outscored USC’s 30-13.
The Vols had a big edge at the foul line going 27-37 to USC’s 18-25 though UT was whistled for one more personal foul.
US returns to action Thursday night at home against LSU for a 7:00 PM tipoff.