Vols dismantle Gamecocks on the hardwood

For the second straight game, No. 8 Tennessee dominated on both ends of the floor and led from start to finish, dismantling South Carolina on the road Saturday, 85-42.

The Vols' 43-point margin of victory marked the third-largest margin of victory in a road game in program history and largest since Feb. 8, 1965. It's also tied for the fourth-largest win over an SEC team in program history.

Olivier Nkamhoua led the Vols in scoring and rebounding and tallied his third career double-double, posting a 21-point, 10-rebound effort. Nkamhoua's 21 points came by way of a 10-for-10 shooting performance from the field, which tied a Tennessee program record for field goal makes without a miss in a single game.

The performance comes almost 11 months to the day after Nkamhoua's 2021-22 season was cut short due to a season-ending injury at Colonial Life Arena last Feb. 5.

Fellow big man Jonas Aidoo also showed out on the offensive end for the Vols, scoring a career-high 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting—including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi were the third and fourth Vols in double figures, each tallying 12 points and connecting on a pair of 3-pointers. As a team, Tennessee shot 51 percent on the afternoon—even while missing 14 of its final 18 shots when the game was already in hand.

Defensively, Tennessee (13-2, 3-0 SEC) forced 18 South Carolina turnovers, while the Gamecocks only made 12 total field goals (tying a UT Barnes-era record for fewest field goals allowed).

The Vols also continued their streak of holding the opponents' leading scorer to single digits during SEC play, as South Carolina leading scorer GG Jackson II was held scoreless—shooting 0-for-8 from the field. Entering Saturday, Jackson had scored in double figures in every game this season and was the SEC's fourth-leading scorer.

In a game that it led from wire to wire, Tennessee dominated from the jump Saturday. Teed off by back-to-back threes from South Carolina native Julian Phillips and Nkamhoua on its first two possessions, Tennessee raced out to a 15-3 lead by the 14:23 mark of the first half—with five different players making field goals during that span.

After steadily building their lead over the course of the half, the Vols achieved their largest lead of the opening period right at the buzzer—as Vescovi drained a deep 3-pointer from the left wing on the final possession of the half to put Tennessee in front at the halftime break by 22 points at 43-21.

Tennessee didn't slow down during the second half. The Vols outscored South Carolina 16-7 in the first five minutes of the period, but then unleashed a kill shot during middle part of the second half—rattling off a 15-0 run spanning from the 14:09 to 9:33 mark of the second half that widened the gap to 74-30.

The Vols led by as many as 45 points in the final minutes of the game.

Tennessee is back home for a pair of games next week—beginning with a matchup against in-state foe Vanderbilt on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET on SEC Network.

Coupled with Tuesday's 34-point win over Mississippi State, Tennessee has won back-to-back games over SEC opponents by 30 or more points.

It marked the first time that the Vols have defeated SEC opponents by 30 or more points in back-to-back games since 1965—when Tennessee defeated Georgia on Jan. 30, 1965, 83-49, and then beat Florida on Feb. 1, 75-43.

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