Vols hold off South Carolina, 73-69

South Carolina Gamecocks forward Johndre Jefferson (32) tries to block a shot by Tennessee Volunteers guard Josh Bone (24) during the first half of action Thursday against Tennessee at the Colonial Life Arena.Tennessee won, 73-69.

Photo by TRACY GLANTZ/THE STATE

South Carolina Gamecocks forward Johndre Jefferson (32) tries to block a shot by Tennessee Volunteers guard Josh Bone (24) during the first half of action Thursday against Tennessee at the Colonial Life Arena.Tennessee won, 73-69.

Bruce Pearl on the Vols' win against South Carolin

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tennessee shot the ball as well as it has all season in building a 17-point halftime lead over South Carolina.

As it turned out, the Vols needed almost every bit of that lead to win their ninth straight in their series with the Gamecocks.

Tennessee held on for a 73-69 win over South Carolina before an announced crowd of 10,137 at Colonial Life Arena on Thursday night.

Tennessee freshman Tobias Harris scored a career-high 25 points and junior Scotty Hopson added 24 to ruin the Gamecocks’ Senior Night.

The Vols (18-12, 8-7 SEC) played South Carolina (14-14, 5-10) without senior center Brian Williams, who missed the game with a back injury he suffered in UT’s 70-69 loss to Mississippi State last Saturday.

The Gamecocks took advantage, outrebounding the Vols 35-27 and pulling down 20 offensive rebounds to UT’s 19 defensive rebounds.

“We played so well so early ... and that was my anticipation,’’ Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. “I don’t think we let down in the second half; I think it was elevated play by South Carolina.

“They were getting the ball to the basket and they hurt us on the boards.’’

Pearl pointed out the Gamecocks rallied from 14 down to beat Vanderbilt earlier this season, and with their pressing, up-tempo style of play are well-suited for such rallies.

Indeed, South Carolina scored on 14 of its first 16 second-half possessions, and when Ramon Galloway (15 points) threw in a leaning, one-handed shot with 7:57 remaining, the Vols’ lead was cut to 58-54.

“It did get kind of tight, but we stayed confident out there,’’ said Hopson, who’s averaging 23.7 points per game over the past seven contests. “We knew we’d make the plays down the stretch to finish off this game.’’

Tennessee withstood the Gamecocks’ initial burst out of the halftime locker room and was back up by 11, 69-58, with 2:38 left after Hopson threw down his fourth dunk of the night.

South Carolina answered with an 8-0 run, cutting the Vols’ lead to 69-66 with 1:06 left when senior Sam Muldrow (24 points) scored on a conventional three-point play.

Hopson drove the lane on the ensuing possession and Muldrow recorded his fifth blocked shot, but UT came up with the loose ball and Melvin Goins hit a jumper with 32.7 seconds left to make it 71-66.

Cameron Tatum buckled down on defense on the Gamecocks’ next trip up the floor, forcing a tie-up with the possession arrow favoring UT.

“I was just trying to contribute all the way around tonight,’’ said Tatum, who scored seven points and had a team-high four assists to go with four rebounds. “Coach Pearl has talked to me about making game-winning plays, and we needed that.’’

Goins split a pair of free throws with 19.8 seconds left to increase the Vols’ lead to 72-66.

South Carolina came up empty on the offensive end, and Harris hit one of two free throw attempts with 8.3 seconds left to seal the win.

Harris was 11-of-14 shooting from the foul line and led the team with six rebounds.

“It got close, but I pretty much knew the whole time we were going to get it done,’’ said Harris, who played some of his minutes at center. “We’re really coming together at the right time, and this gives us some confidence.’’

The Vols led by as many as 20 points in the first half. UT’s 13-of-21 shooting (61.9 percent) through the opening 20 minutes was their best mark in a half this season.

Tennessee returns to action at noon on Sunday in Thompson-Boling Arena against No. 20 Kentucky (21-8, 9-6).

The Vols can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the SEC East with a win over the Wildcats, depending on Saturday’s results involving Georgia at Alabama and Florida at Vanderbilt.

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Comments » 86

rockytopnation16 writes:

I'll take it.

Razor784 writes:

Excellent win, they stayed from the 3-pointers for the most part and pounded it inside. If Brian Williams had been healthy and helping out on the boards this one would have been a blow out. Now lets go beat the Cats on Sunday. GBO

vol98champ writes:

I told my wife at halftime that SC would out score us by 10 points in the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half. I think I missed it by 15 seconds. By the way isn't an undercut without going for the ball a technical foul? Is Pearl the 3rd or 4th best player on this malfunctioning team? Oh well, a win is a win.

TopTenn writes:

Just beat the cats Sunday. GBO!!!!!!!!!!!!

bUTchVFL writes:

This team had so much promise. It's all about the dance now.

mhsvol writes:

Good win. Come tournament time however, if the Vols get in, Scotty Hopson is going to be profiling once too often after one of his circus dunks, and while he's standing in front of the crowd, his man will be doing the same thing on the other end. Don't know why Pearl puts up with this kind of stuff.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I'm not disappointed.

huntined#565710 writes:

Just stay on the bench at half time. don't know what they do at half time but what ever it is they need to change it..so many games they are way ahead and in the second half they are not the same team..but as you guys said a win is a win and at this point we need all we can get!!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

We actually blew a 20 point lead in this one, and you knew even someone like S C would make a run. They were hitting outside shots and getting to the rim, coupled with our sloppy passes and our getting back to missing free throws after a great beginning. In fact, that's where we won the game.........at the line.

In this one, several guys stepped up, noone bigger than Goins' short jumper after the key offensive rebound at the end. Tatum played much better, making his free throws, Steven made several key shots underneath, but I'm glad Bruce took him out at the end because you just know S C would have put him on the line.

We can be displeased with letting the lead slip away, but give S C a bit of credit in storming back. Great effort by Scotty and Tobias tonight, in particular.

Big qx is now what happens Sunday with the Cats?

TommyVols writes:

Harris, was awesome he was the different on the game he's our leader. Hopson played well selfish at time but will take the win.

theoldbear writes:

Should have been the blow-out it started out to be.

All you Steve Pearl haters,did anybody contribute more, or hustle more?

Fields, Williams, Goins, and maybe Hopson, will be playing their last home game, and against Kentucky, Sunday.

I'll be hurrying home from church! That one is the one that will tell more about the heart and character of this team. If they've got any, Sunday is the time to show it.

davidray31#232814 writes:

5 conference road wins.That is impressive anyway you slice it!!

Vols4Ever writes:

A win is a win, except when the win is the 8th win in the conference away from home. This team reminds me of many football teams. Don't bank it in the W or L column until its over (except when the head ref announces over the PA, standing on the playing surface, and proclaims its over, when, in the first time in 50 years of Volunteers I've ever witnessed (and hopefully the last) it isn't really over).

We are in the Big Dance. Just as with our head coach, I don't know how long we'll be around. Just replicate the beat down we gave Tiger High against the Cheating Cats and atone for the not so good home performances. GBO !!!

everydayisorange writes:

This was a good road win for UT.If all the dominoes fall in order,the Vols can finish 2cd in the east.That would be a hugh accomplishment considering how this team has played since the NCAA investigation was made public.Good free throw shooting helped in the win.Now if we can beat the cats, maybe we get a little better seed.By the way,Mr. Mathews,what did UT do wrong in this game?

charlyand#601962 writes:

in response to TommyVols:

Harris, was awesome he was the different on the game he's our leader. Hopson played well selfish at time but will take the win.

How can Scotty be selfish when he often is the only one making his shots?? You people are never happy with him. Most of the time, he carries this team. Great win!!

Willis writes:

183 DAYS TILL FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!!!!!

westknoxrepub writes:

Good win, beat the Cats

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to bigorangegoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

more like a 9 seed maybe a 10

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to TommyVols:

Harris, was awesome he was the different on the game he's our leader. Hopson played well selfish at time but will take the win.

sellfish ? you cant be serious

b24vol writes:

in response to bigorangegoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hope we make the show,but 4th seed....that would make us have to be in the top 16 ranked teams! I feel a 8-10 seed more like it, if we make it.

VOLliven2it writes:

Should never have been as close as the finish. And no I do not give SC a lot of credit. We were playing poorly, giving up an 8-0 run late in the game. We did win. I am glad. I do not see how this team is less than a 6th seed in the NCAA tournament unless they beat the Cats and win at least two in the SEC tourney. As much as I want to see them win, I have to say I have no idea how they will play on Sunday or in the SEC tournament. I do know if they play as they did the past two games in the Dance, they will sit early and it will not be pretty. If they happen to get a 4th seed I will be amazed.

BigBadVol writes:

We won and you still complain. What a group of losers.

One_in_West_Knox writes:

Do that passing the ball around the perimeter on Sunday afternoon, and have the Wildcats easily "scratch" out a win.

The_Mayor writes:

Good game. They seem to play at whatever level their competition presents. I don't have a problem with that...as long as they win. Tobias grew up some tonight, and that is very, very encouraging as we get ready for post season.

77VolFS writes:

in response to theoldbear:

Should have been the blow-out it started out to be.

All you Steve Pearl haters,did anybody contribute more, or hustle more?

Fields, Williams, Goins, and maybe Hopson, will be playing their last home game, and against Kentucky, Sunday.

I'll be hurrying home from church! That one is the one that will tell more about the heart and character of this team. If they've got any, Sunday is the time to show it.

... and maybe Harris.

SEC1 writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

We won and you still complain. What a group of losers.

a 4pt win vs the worst team in the sec east.... wow... go get'em, we'll see sunday at noon, if harris & hopson shows up vs the cats.... or it's just like football 4th place in the east once again

vol98champ writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

We won and you still complain. What a group of losers.

Have you watched this team play?

VolMoment writes:

Do you complainers ever watch other games. If you could watch some instead of posting here, you would see good teams like Texas, North Carolina and Duke get beat and or lose big leads and hold on to win bt 2 for the same reasons that our Vols do. So if you are really a UT fan then realize they are still young men representing our University the best they can.
Come on do you think they go out there and say I am not going to play good even if it makes me look bad to my friends, parents and coaches.

RoadTrip writes:

This last regular season game is critical to get in and a better seeding. It would be a quality win if they can get by the Cats this weekend. It would also give them some momentum heading into the SEC tourney. A loss and you are looking at a 9 or 10 seed if they win at least their first game in the SEC's. They could bubble out of it if they don't win at least one more game.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

Anybody notice Scottie checking out the young ladies' butts on the way to the lockerroom at half??

Hilarious.

The game is probably on espn3.com, replay,if you want to watch it again.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

No complaints from me, we've got to get KY now! GBO!

toldyouthatspsuckedfor3years writes:

If Bruce does not play Tobias and Scotty 40 minutes in the ncaa tournament then he should be fired.

Ironcity writes:

in response to SEC1:

a 4pt win vs the worst team in the sec east.... wow... go get'em, we'll see sunday at noon, if harris & hopson shows up vs the cats.... or it's just like football 4th place in the east once again

I have a short memory but didn't the worst team in the east beat the living tar out of the Gators in Gainsville this year? Yeah I thought so. I take wins anytime I can get them especially on the road.

bigdisbig writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

We won and you still complain. What a group of losers.

Evidently you didn't watch the second half. First 3 minutes Tennessee played like they had lead boots on. They do this every game when they have a comfortable lead. This team implodes every game. Fortunately SC made some mistakes in the last minute to allow the Vols to finally capitalize which is something they have lacked in many games.
Yes....we are complaining because once again they allowed a less than mediocre team take them to the wire. YOU may be happy with lackluster play but the rest of us are not. Maybe you need to start rooting for the girls badminton team where no one cares.

MusicCityVol writes:

Great win!!!! Harris and Hopson were a fabulous tandem. We are still alive for the coveted 2-seed in the East which will mean a day 1 bye in the SEC Tournament. The UK game Saturday is HUGE!!!

Vols and Cats Play For More Than Pride
http://checkerboardchatter.blogspot.c...

VolNationPride writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Evidently you didn't watch the second half. First 3 minutes Tennessee played like they had lead boots on. They do this every game when they have a comfortable lead. This team implodes every game. Fortunately SC made some mistakes in the last minute to allow the Vols to finally capitalize which is something they have lacked in many games.
Yes....we are complaining because once again they allowed a less than mediocre team take them to the wire. YOU may be happy with lackluster play but the rest of us are not. Maybe you need to start rooting for the girls badminton team where no one cares.

Maybe you should learn something about basketball before you post.

Even though South Carolina has the worst record in the east doesn't mean they are bad. Leading shot blocker in the SEC, Ellington is good, they hit a lot of shots in the second half. We had nobody to match on Mudrow, they fed him low, nothing we could do about that. He shoots well too, even though we pushed him off the block.

TN played a very good game, hit some free throws and hustled. Believe it or not, that will win them some games in the NCAA alone.

PeeEllthree writes:

Going to the dance again and there are whiners everywhere on here.

The_Mayor writes:

in response to MusicCityVol:

Great win!!!! Harris and Hopson were a fabulous tandem. We are still alive for the coveted 2-seed in the East which will mean a day 1 bye in the SEC Tournament. The UK game Saturday is HUGE!!!

Vols and Cats Play For More Than Pride
http://checkerboardchatter.blogspot.c...

You're exactly right on both points. We may have stumbled upon a gem of leadership in a tandem package. If Hopson and Harris can step up and put this team on their shoulders Sunday and then carry that momentum over into the SEC tourney and then slip into a 6,7 or 8 sede for the NCAA, they would be right where they need to be. Tournament success is a matter of being hot at the right time.

TommyVols writes:

in response to chrisw2967:

sellfish ? you cant be serious

Did you watch the game if you did then tell me with a minute left on the clock why would Hopson shoot a three pointer verses running down the clock.

VolNationPride writes:

in response to TommyVols:

Did you watch the game if you did then tell me with a minute left on the clock why would Hopson shoot a three pointer verses running down the clock.

He was standing there all alone and not a player within 10 feet, not a bad shot. If he hit it then you would be singing his praises. Not selfish, maybe not the greatest shot but definately not selfish.

lomas98 writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Evidently you didn't watch the second half. First 3 minutes Tennessee played like they had lead boots on. They do this every game when they have a comfortable lead. This team implodes every game. Fortunately SC made some mistakes in the last minute to allow the Vols to finally capitalize which is something they have lacked in many games.
Yes....we are complaining because once again they allowed a less than mediocre team take them to the wire. YOU may be happy with lackluster play but the rest of us are not. Maybe you need to start rooting for the girls badminton team where no one cares.

Do you realize there is another team on the other side fighting their hearts out to compete? It's not like TN is letting them do that. They have pride too and were not going to go down without a fight in the 2nd half. How many games have they had a comfortable lead and let the other team back in? You say every time, but they really didn't allow Ole Miss or Auburn back in the game after having big leads. They didn't allow LSU back in the game after having a big lead. They pretty much dominated Pitt the whole 40 minutes. It seems most of the games TN is coming from behind, not blowing big leads. Even though SC made some runs and did get it close, TN was the better team and wasn't going to allow that to happen. Anytime you can beat a team on the road by 6-10 points you have played well. It would have been 7 pt win if SC didn't hit a LONG 3 at the end.

lomas98 writes:

in response to TommyVols:

Did you watch the game if you did then tell me with a minute left on the clock why would Hopson shoot a three pointer verses running down the clock.

Throwing it back out would have been the text book play, but Scotty was not being selfish. He was trying to deliver the knockout blow to make it an 11 point lead. He missed and then we didn't play defense on the other end. Not the smartest play in the world, but Scotty is certainly not selfish.

charlyand#601962 writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

We won and you still complain. What a group of losers.

Amen to that!!

PeeEllthree writes:

in response to TommyVols:

Did you watch the game if you did then tell me with a minute left on the clock why would Hopson shoot a three pointer verses running down the clock.

To go for the dagger. Not a good shot at that time, but it worked out. He came back, got his shot blocked, but kept it alive. I'll take Scotty trying to finish teams off all day, especially after what he has been through. I wan't him with that shot sunday against ky and to knock it down as TBA goes off. I'll be there. It's march, and we have more ball to play.

lomas98 writes:

As up and down as this team has been all year, most surprising stat is that we will finish with a better road conference record (5-3) than at home. Needed a better home court showing this year although all 4 home losses so far could have easily been wins. We need the home crowd to really step up Sunday and be the difference

bmiller#222442 writes:

This team has alot of potential but lacks true leadership. I propose the trio of Pearl, Hopson and Harris take the responsibility of leading this team on an NCAA tournament run. The addition of Steven Pearl to this leadership role (ie lead by example)is what all great role players evolve into and I think this young man can shoulder the burden. Stay the course and lets make the Big Orange Nation proud! Go Vols!

1vavolfan writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Evidently you didn't watch the second half. First 3 minutes Tennessee played like they had lead boots on. They do this every game when they have a comfortable lead. This team implodes every game. Fortunately SC made some mistakes in the last minute to allow the Vols to finally capitalize which is something they have lacked in many games.
Yes....we are complaining because once again they allowed a less than mediocre team take them to the wire. YOU may be happy with lackluster play but the rest of us are not. Maybe you need to start rooting for the girls badminton team where no one cares.

You sir are a moron

tdvol1989 writes:

Still on the Tourney bubble. Losing to KY and in the 1st Round of the SEC Tournament would put us out. We are loaded with good wins and heinous losses.

We are probably in now, but we are dangling on that 8/9 seed edge. We don't want that. That usually puts you against the best of the mid-majors or an angry power conference team. If you win, you get a 1 seed.

2 straight losses and we are out. Getting to 20 probably gets us in. But we need 3 more wins to stay out of the 8/9 seed zone. And, don't brag about RPI. The seeding has not respected our RPI the last few years. We need KY + 2.

But, I have never witnessed a Vol SEC Tourney Championship. This would be the time to do it.

richvol writes:

Great win. The Vols did come out in the second half with less intensity...I don't care what Pearl says. We did just enough to win.

Tatum made another stupid foul at the top of the key late in the game...Kenny hall is no help whatsoever and Goins made another lazy pass that was intercepted late in the game to let them pull close. It's like they lose their mind with two minutes left.

Harris and Hopson played great...so did little Pearl. Did anyone notice Pearl using his timeouts this time to get them settled late...finally.

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