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HomeSports#22 Tennessee Vols Basketball travels to South Carolina, Saturday

#22 Tennessee Vols Basketball travels to South Carolina, Saturday

#22 Tennessee (15-6 | 6-3 SEC) at South Carolina (13-8 | 4-5 SEC)
Saturday, February 5th, 2022 | 12:02pm CT
Columbia, SC | Colonial Life Arena | TV: CBS

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsKnoxville, TN – The 22nd-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team is set to face off with South Carolina for the second time this season, taking on the Gamecocks on the road in Columbia on Saturday at 12:00pm CT.
 
Fans can catch Saturday’s game on CBS and online or on any mobile device through the CBS Sports app. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Jim Spanarkel (analysis) will have the call.
 
Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp calling the action. The broadcast is also available on channel 138 on Sirius, channel 190 on SiriusXM and channel 961 on the SiriusXM app.
 
Last time out on Tuesday, Tennessee (15-6, 6-3 SEC) defeated Texas A&M at home, 90-80. The Vols had a standout night offensively, shooting 51 percent from the floor and 42 percent from 3-point range.
 
Five Vols scored in double figures, led by Kennedy Chandler’s 16 points. Chandler also dished out seven assists and had three steals. Olivier Nkamhoua tallied 15 points and had three blocks, while Josiah-Jordan James and Zakai Zeigler each posted 14 points. Santiago Vescovi finished with 13 points while shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point range.
 
Saturday marks the second regular-season matchup between Tennessee and South Carolina this season. The Vols defeated the Gamecocks in Knoxville on January 11th, 66-46. Since 2018, Rick Barnes and his staff have guided the Volunteers to a 15-5 record in regular-season rematch games (SEC Tournament games not included).

The Series

Tennessee leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 49-28, dating to 1927. The Vols have won seven of their last eight games against the Gamecocks.

With a win on Saturday, Tennessee could even the series at 17-17 when it is contested in Columbia.

Tuesday marks the 20th head-to-head meeting between good friends Rick Barnes and Frank Martin. See “Former Big 12 Rivals” note below.

In three career games against South Carolina, Charleston native Josiah-Jordan James averages 10.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting .476 from the field and .667 (6 of 9) from 3-point range.

This matchup has not been featured on CBS since February 22nd, 1997, when the ninth-ranked Gamecocks beat the unranked Vols, 69-58, in Knoxville.

Layup Lines – Team

The Volunteers are riding a four-game win streak in SEC play.

Tennessee stands at No. 13 in the NCAA’s latest NET ratings. Each of UT’s six losses are Quad 1.

Tennessee ranks 18th nationally on the NCAA’s official “toughest schedule” metric.

The Vols rank among the Division I top 12 in steals per game (10.0, eighth), turnover margin (+4.7, ninth), and turnovers forced per game (17.6, 12th).

According to KenPom, the Vols rank eighth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 88.1 points per 100 possessions.
 
Despite the Vols’ overall defensive prowess, opponents are shooting .491 and averaging 79.8 points in UT’s four SEC road games.
 
Tennessee averages an SEC-best 16.0 assists per game during league play (144 assists on 216 FGs).

Layup Lines – Players

All-SEC candidate Santiago Vescovi has increased his team-leading 14.0 ppg scoring average to 16.0 ppg in SEC play. His 3.67 3-point makes per game during SEC play rank second in the league.

Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and Bob Cousy Award candidate Kennedy Chandler’s 2.3 steals per game rank 13th nationally and second among all Division I true freshmen.
Chandler has scored (267) or assisted (233) on 32 percent of Tennessee’s total points this season (500 of 1,559).

Chandler’s 46 steals are the most by any Vol since Josh Richardson (now with the Boston Celtics) totaled 67 steals in 32 games in 2014-15.

Over Tennessee’s last five games, true freshman and SEC Sixth Man of the Year candidate Zakai Zeigler is averaging 10.6 points and has attempted a team-high 21 free throws (19 for 21, .905).

The SEC record for career games played is 152, held by Kentucky’s Darius Miller (2008-12). John Fulkerson is closing in, having now appeared in a Tennessee-record 151 career games.

About the South Carolina Gamecocks

After starting SEC play with a 1-4 record in conference, South Carolina (13-8, 4-5 SEC) has won three of its last four games. The Gamecocks defeated Georgia and Vanderbilt at home and Texas A&M on the road before falling at Mississippi State on Tuesday.

The Gamecocks are 9-2 at Colonial Life Arena this season, only dropping contests to the current No. 1 team in the nation, Auburn, and Florida.

South Carolina ranks 30th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing 93.0 points per 100 possessions. The Gamecocks rank 219th in adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring 100.1 points per 100 possessions.


James Reese V, who had a game-high 15 points in the first meeting with Tennessee on Jan. 11, is South Carolina’s second-leading scorer with an overall average of 10.9 points per game. Over South Carolina’s last three games, Reese is averaging 18.0 points per game.

The Gamecocks’ leading scorer, senior guard Erik Stevenson, is averaging 17.0 points in SEC home games, compared to just 7.2 points per game in conference road games.
The Gamecocks rank 13th in the nation and second in the SEC with 13.4 offensive rebounds per game.

South Carolina is also holding its opponents to shooting 40.1 percent from the field, a mark that ranks 40th in the nation and third in the SEC.

Tennessee freshman guard Zakai Zeigler has a history of playing against a pair of players on the Gamecocks’ roster. Zeigler played against South Carolina sophomore forward Josh Gray when they both attended high school in Long Island. And he played against freshman forward Ta’Quan Woodley in various AAU tournaments and camps.

Last Meeting With South Carolina

A balanced offensive effort, coupled with stout defense, led No. 22 Tennessee past South Carolina, 66-46, on January 11th at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Charleston, South Carolina, native Josiah-Jordan James provided the spark for Tennessee (11-4, 2-2 SEC), sinking a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the first half. That gave the Vols’ offense confidence and momentum to start the second period. James finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for his second career double-double. He also had a pair of assists, one block and a steal.

Zakai Zeigler brought an energetic presence to the floor when he checked in. The freshman guard logged the Volunteers’ first bucket of the game and posted four points, a rebound, an assist and two steals his first rotation in the game. He finished with 11 points, four steals and four assists.

In total, four Vols scored in double figures, as Santiago Vescovi led the team with 14 points. John Fulkerson added 10 and blocked two shots.

South Carolina (10-5, 1-2 SEC) was led by James Reese V, who notched 15 points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Gamecocks were stifled in the paint as the Volunteers did not allow either starting forward for Carolina to make a field goal. South Carolina was only 11-of-30 (36.7 percent) on 2-point field-goal attempts, as the Vols made it tough to get shots up around the rim.

The offenses battled in the first half, both jockeying to sustain a lead. As the first-period wound to a close, 3-pointers from Zeigler and Kennedy Chandler helped the Big Orange build a lead, but it was James’ trey as the buzzer sounded that extended Tennessee’s lead to a 30-24 lead, and the Vols would never look back.
 
The Vols rode the offensive momentum to start the second half, starting on a 9-2 run for the first four and a half minutes. Tennessee held the Gamecocks to 8-of-25 (32 percent) shooting from the floor after the break. UT caused 12 turnovers in the first half, seven coming on steals, and carried that success over to the second half, forcing 11 more turnovers.
 
Tennessee held South Carolina to just 0.667 points per possession.

Former BIG 12 Rivals Barnes, Martin Now Under SEC Banner

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes and South Carolina headman Frank Martin meet for the 20th time as conference rivals Saturday and the 13th time under the SEC banner.

The two squared off seven times as coaches in the Big 12 Conference when Barnes was with Texas and Martin was at Kansas State.

Barnes holds an 11-8 edge in head-to-head meetings.

Fulkerson Set To Tie SEC’s Career Games Played Record

After taking advantage of a sixth (COVID) year this season, John Fulkerson has seized Tennessee’s program record for career games played. His record-breaking 143rd appearance was the January 5th overtime win over Ole Miss.

Fulkerson on Saturday will tie the SEC games played record:
 
RANK    PLAYER, YEARS                                   SCHOOL           GP
1            Darius Miller, 2008-12                       Kentucky          152
2            John Fulkerson, 2016-pres.               Tennessee         151
              Wayne Turner, 1995-99                     Kentucky          151
              Walter Hodge, 2005-09                     Florida              151
5            Patric Young, 2010-14                       Florida              150
6            Jamaal Magloire, 1996-2000              Kentucky          145
              Kenny Boynton, 2009-13                   Florida              145

Second Time’s A Charm

Since 2018, Rick Barnes and his staff have guided the Volunteers to a 15-5 record in regular-season rematch games (SEC Tournament games not included).


UT Vols Eighth Nationally In Steals

Tennessee is logging steals at its highest rate of the Barnes era, averaging 10.0 per game. That ranks eighth among Division I teams.

Through Barnes’ first six seasons on Rocky Top, Tennessee averaged just 6.0 steals per game. And UT’s highest per-game average during that span was 7.3 steals per game last season (with two first-round NBA Draft picks manning the wings).

This year’s team is flirting with the Tennessee single-season record for steals per game:
 
RANK    SPG       STEALS/GAMES  SEASON
1.           10.03    301/30 2005-06
              9.96      209/21 2021-22
2.           9.73      292/30 1988-89
3.           9.60      336/35 2006-07

Santi Seeing A Big Rim

With 63 made 3-pointers this season, Santiago Vescovi is on pace to finish the season with the fifth-most made threes in program history (93).

Vescovi is averaging 3.0 made threes per game.

It took Vescovi only 18 games this season to surpass his total of 53 3-pointers in 27 games last year.

Chandler Up For Multiple National Honors

True freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler is one of 15 names on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watch list. He is also among 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.


Next Up For UT Vols Basketball

The Tennessee men’s basketball team is on the road for a second consecutive game, heading to Starkville, Mississippi to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Tip-off is set for 8:00pm CT on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

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