USC had forged a two game winning streak with wins over Georgia and Kentucky by making clutch late shots and free throws. A shot at a third straight win went the way of missed shots from the field and the line in the final minutes in a 70-63 loss in front of 18,000 Saturday night at Colonial Life Arena. The loss also snapped USC’s three game winning streak over the Vols.
The Gamecocks did not make a field goal for the final 3:30 of the game and made only 1 of their last 11 shots. That was unfortunate because the Vols kept the door open by not scoring from the field for the final 3:58.
USC’s last field goal was a three by Wesley Myers that cut the Tennessee lead to 64-62.
What followed was an offensive nightmare for the Gamecocks. Chris Silva, a 76% free throw shooter, missed a pair that would have tied the game. After the Vols hit two free throws, Silva went to the line again but went 1-2.
That left USC down 66-63 with 1:45 to play. After a missed Tennessee three pointer, the Gamecocks had a chance to tie but Silva missed a pair of shots down low, Justin Minaya missed on a tip, and following an offensive rebound, Myers was off target on a three pointer.
And that was that for the Gamecocks.
Lamonte Turner wrapped four free throws around a Minaya three point miss for the final seven point margin and the Vols fourth win in five games. The victory also is Rick Barnes’ seventh against the Gamecocks in 10 games.
The Vols shot 57% for the game and doubled the Gamecocks in the paint 32-16. Turner, off the bench, led the Vols with 25 points including 10-10 from the line. Myers and Minaya led USC with 16 points each.
The Gamecocks fall to 12-7 overall and 3-4 in the SEC. They will play at Florida Wednesday night.
Frank Martin post game press conference
Justin Minaya and Wesley Myers take questions from the media