Cuonzo Martin recaps win over South Carolina
Jarnell Stokes talks about how the Vols' bounce back
A Tennessee men’s basketball team that felt doomed by a flat start on Wednesday avoided the problem Saturday and rode a first-half surge to a runaway win.
UT beat South Carolina 72-53 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols (15-8, 6-4 SEC) dusted themselves off from Wednesday’s 64-60 loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville. They are 6-1 after losses this season. The Gamecocks (8-15, 1-9) cemented their status as SEC bottom dwellers. They have now lost three league games in a row.
UT scored the game’s first 10 points and led by 23 at intermission. The 45-22 advantage marked the most first-half points the Vols had scored this season.
Jordan McRae scored a game-high 24. He made his first four 3-point attempts and closed the first half with a buzzer-beater that thrilled the crowd. Jarnell Stokes scored 17 and pulled down eight rebounds. Jeronne Maymon had 10 points, eight rebounds.
South Carolina freshman point guard Sindarius Thornwell (15 points) carried the Gamecocks. He scored 13 in the first half.
UT coach Cuonzo Martin experimented with his lineup in the second, inserting a host of reserves into the game. South Carolina took advantage, cutting the lead to 13 (54-41) with 9 minutes to play. But Martin sent his starters back in, and the Vols went on an 11-2 run.
Tennessee faces a much stiffer test Tuesday, when No. 3 Florida comes to Knoxville. The Vols lost to the Gators 67-41 in Gainesville on Jan. 25.
Ben Frederickson covers UT men’s basketball. Follow him at twitter.com/Ben_Fred