#5 VOLS FALL TO SOUTH CAROLINA, 63-59

Courtesy / UT Athletics

#5 VOLS FALL TO SOUTH CAROLINA, 63-59

Courtesy / UT Athletics

Game Recap: Men’s Basketball | January 30, 2024

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee men’s basketball team dropped a 63-59 decision Tuesday night against South Carolina at Food City Center.

Fifth-year guard Dalton Knecht scored a game-best 31 points, his fourth time reaching that mark in the last five outings, for fifth-ranked Tennessee (15-5, 5-2 SEC) in the setback.

South Carolina (18-3, 6-2 SEC) raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first 2:05, as the Volunteers went scoreless until the 16:12 mark. They, however, then went on an 11-2 run to go ahead, 11-9, with 11:36 on the clock.

Tennessee upped its edge to 16-12 with 8:53 left in the half, but the Gamecocks answered with a 14-6 burst to flip the four-point advantage the other way, 26-22, with 3:01 to go before the break. The visitors’ lead remained four, 30-26, entering the locker room despite 13 points from Knecht.

Both teams shot under 37.0 percent from the field in the opening session, with the Volunteers at 12-of-33 (36.4 percent) and the Gamecocks at 11-of-30 (36.7 percent). Tennessee, though, shot no free throws, while South Carolina went 4-of-6 on its attempts.

The Gamecocks’ leading scorer, junior guard Meechie Johnson, opened the second half with his lone basket, a 3-pointer just 25 seconds in to make it 33-26. Tennessee, though, scored seven straight points in 1:29 to level it at 33 with 17:47 remaining.

South Carolina pushed its lead back to six, 46-40, with 11:31 remaining, as Tennessee had a span of 7:48 without a made field goal. The Volunteers’ cold shooting extended to a 1-of-13 stretch over nearly 15 minutes, as South Carolina went up by a game-high nine, 55-46, with just 3:05 on the ticker.

Knecht responded with a personal 7-1 burst, including three straight made field goals and a free throw, in just 1:50 to slice the deficit to three, 56-53, with 1:07 to go, but graduate student guard Ta’Lon Cooper hit a 3-pointer at the other end to double the advantage 26 seconds later. A Knecht 3-pointer with 31.1 ticks to play cut the margin back down to three, 59-56.

After a pair of free throws by junior guard Myles Stute, Knecht hit another 3-pointer to make it 61-59 with 5.3 seconds left, giving him a personal 13-6 run in just 2:26. Stute, though, knocked down two more free throws at the other end to seal the victory for the Gamecocks.

Knecht, who eclipsed 30 points for the fifth time this season and third straight time at home, finished 11-of-24 from the field. The Thornton, Colo., native, who grabbed seven rebounds, became the first SEC player in exactly 14 years to record 30-plus four times in a five-game span. He also became the third Power Six player in the last decade with 190 points in a six-game stretch—the others are Marquette’s Markus Howard and Oklahoma’s Trae Young—and the first SEC player in 14 years with 25-plus points in five consecutive affairs.

Fifth-year guard Santiago Vescovi, who moved into a tie for eighth place on the SEC’s all-time made 3-pointers list, scored 10 points and notched a pair of steals.

Cooper paced the Gamecocks with 18 points and went 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Graduate student forward B.J. Mack had 16 points despite Tennessee holding him to a 4-of-15 clip, including a 1-of-8 mark from deep, as he went 7-of-8 at the stripe.

Stute logged 13 points, hitting all three of his 3-pointers and all four of his free throws. Johnson finished just 1-of-8 from the floor, but led all players with six assists.

Tennessee limited South Carolina to 19-of-56 (33.9 percent) shooting, but the Gamecocks went 15-of-18 (83.3 percent) at the line and the Volunteers were just 12-of-20 (60.0 percent). Additionally, South Carolina had a 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) mark on 3-pointers compared to Tennessee’s 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) tally.

Up next for the Volunteers is a top-10 clash Saturday at 8: 30 p.m. in Lexington, Ky., as they take on No. 10/8 Kentucky, live on ESPN from Rupp Arena.

To keep up with the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team on social media, follow @Vol_Hoops on Instagram and X/Twitter, as well as /tennesseebasketball on Facebook.  

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS POSTGAME NOTES
• Tennessee now owns a 29-9 (.763) record under ninth-year head coach Rick Barnes while ranked in the top five of the AP Poll.
• For the first time all season, a Volunteer other than freshman guard Cameron Carr or redshirt freshman guard D.J. Jefferson did the pregame “One Fly We All Fly” dunk, as sophomore forward Tobe Awaka did so on his birthday.
• From the 17:21 to the 15:47 marks of the second half, Tennessee committed five personal fouls, including three in the first three seconds of that stretch, and South Carolina eventually entered the bonus with 9:32 left.
• From the 17:46 to the 2:57 marks of the second half, the Volunteers went 1-of-13 from the field and 11-of-18 at the line.
• At least one Volunteer has scored 20-plus points in 10 of the past 12 games, with a total of 12 such performances in that stretch.
• Vescovi tied Alabama’s John Petty (2017-21) for eighth place on the SEC’s all-time made 3-pointers leaderboard, as he now owns 311.
• Vescovi moved past C.J. Watson (2002-06) for second place on Tennessee’s all-time minutes played leaderboard, now with 4,081.
• With 13 points before the break and 18 after it, Knecht reached 11-plus for the 10th and 11th times in the last 12 frames, dating back to the second session at Mississippi State on Jan. 13.
• Tuesday marked the sixth time this season Knecht has scored double-digit points in both halves of a contest.
• Knecht is the only Division I player this season with a six-game 25-point scoring streak, as the last individual to do so was the second-leading scorer in DI history, Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis, who had a nine-game stretch from Feb. 2-28, 2023.
• The last Power Six player with a six-game streak of 25-plus points was Iowa’s Luka Garza, who did so over two seasons, from Feb. 29, 2020, in the 2019-20 campaign to Dec. 3, 2020, in the 2020-21 season.
• The last Power Six player with a single-season streak of 25-plus points was Marquette’s Markus Howard, who amassed a seven-game mark from Jan. 4-24, 2020.
• The only other SEC player in at least the last 19 seasons with 25-plus points in six straight games is South Carolina’s Devan Downey, who compiled eight in a row from Jan. 9-Feb. 6, 2010.
• Before Knecht, the aforementioned Downey was also the last SEC player with 30-plus points four times in a five-game span, as he did so from Jan. 16-30, 2020.
• The last Power Six player with at least 30 points four-plus times in a five-game stretch was Marquette’s Markus Howard, who logged five such performances in a row from Feb. 22-March 7, 2020.
• Over the last 14 seasons (2010-24), only four other SEC players have registered 30-plus points at least five times in a season: Texas A&M’s Wade Tayor IV (2023-24), Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. (2021-22), Arkansas’ Mason Jones (nine times in 2019-20) and Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody (2015-16).
• The only other SEC player in the last 14 years (2010-24) to surpass 30 points—scoring 31-plus—at least five times in single campaign is the aforementioned Jones, as seven of his nine 30-point showings were above that number.
• Knecht, with 191, is the only SEC player in at least the last 19 seasons (2005-24) with 190-plus points in a six-game stretch.
• In the last two seasons, the only other Division I player with 190 points in a six-game span is Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis, who had seven instances in 2022-23.
• Over the last 10 seasons (2014-24), the only other Power Six players with 190 points in a six-game stretch are Marquette’s Markus Howard (three concurrent stretches in an eight-game span from Jan. 1-24, 2020, as well as from Dec. 1-28, 2018) and Oklahoma’s Trae Young (six concurrent stretches in an 11-game span from Nov. 23, 2017-Jan. 30, 2018).
• Furthermore, over the last 19 seasons (2005-24), only four other Power Six players logged 190 points in a six-game span: NC State’s T.J. Warren (three concurrent stretches in an eight-game span from Feb. 18-March 14, 2014), Providence’s Marshon Brooks (two concurrent stretches in a seven-game span from Feb. 2-27, 2011), Kansas State’s Michael Beasley (two concurrent stretches in a seven-game span from Feb. 13-March 4, 2008) and Duke’s J.J. Redick (eight concurrent stretches in a 13-game span from Jan. 11-Feb. 22, 2006).
• Knecht is the 13th Division I player this season with a 20-point scoring streak of even six games, including the third from a Power Six conference, alongside Cal’s Jaylon Tyson (Dec. 29, 2023-Jan. 13, 2024) and North Carolina’s R.J. Davis (eight games from Nov. 23-Dec. 29, 2023).
• Just two other SEC players in the last five seasons (2019-24) have scored even 20-plus points six games in a row: Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. (seven straight from Feb. 12-March 5, 2022) and LSU’s Cameron Thomas (10 straight from Jan. 26-March 6, 2021).
• Knecht’s 13 straight Tennessee points to close the night tied for the 11th-highest individual run in program history and marked his second stretch of at least that many in a row this season.
• Knecht is the third Volunteer in the last 17 seasons (2007-24) with at least seven 25-point performances in a single campaign, joining Kevin Punter Jr. (eight in 2015-16) and Jordan McRae (seven in 2013-14).
• Knecht’s five 30-point performances are the most in a season for a Volunteer since Chris Lofton logged six in 2006-07, while his five with 31-plus match Lofton’s total that season.

Courtesy / UT Athletics

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