KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - As the final seconds wound down, Darrin Horn leaned down, pointed at three of his players and gave them a closing thought:
"Remember this feeling," the South Carolina coach told Devan Downey, Sam Muldrow and Austin Steed. The players nodded, though somewhat dazed.
Remember the most lopsided loss of the season, a 79-53 laugher at No. 14 Tennessee?
Yes, Horn reiterated later.
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"I wanted them to remember that. Remember how that felt. Because we don't want that feeling," Horn said. "Losing is one thing. But doing it when you don't feel like you gave yourself a chance to (win), that's just disappointing."
The loss, which snapped a two-game win streak, against a Tennessee team that has been a tough matchup lately for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks have lost six in a row to Tennessee (18-4, 6-2 SEC) by an average of 17 points, three of them - including Saturday - by at least 24 points.
That this game was added to the blowout list was what stuck in Horn's craw. It was the worst way for South Carolina (13-9, 4-4) to enter the closing stretch of league play.
Downey, coming off three consecutive 30-point games, had 26 points, but much of it came after the game was out of hand. The Gamecocks had a terrible offense in the first half, and a terrible defense in the second.
"From top to bottom we were just outplayed," Downey said. "I was outplayed. Overall, we were just outplayed."
It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for the Gamecocks, who shot 27 percent from the field. They were credited with four assists, only three fast-break points, and nine points off turnovers.
After scoring on the opening possession, USC went nearly 10 minutes without scoring. At the midpoint of the first half, Tennessee led 8-2.
On one possession, USC was saved from a turnover when an errant pass hit the referee. But moments later Ramon Galloway dribbled the ball out of bounds.
Both teams shot airballs from outside. Tennessee missed easy layups, and USC threw the ball away.
But Tennessee eased ahead, 30-16, at the break.
"I wasn't too worked up at halftime," Horn said. "But then to come out in the second half and give them that many easy baskets was just inexcusable."
Tennessee guard Bobby Maze made a few more beautiful driving bankers, and Scotty Hopson's spot-up 3-pointer made it 42-20. The rout was on, as the Volunteers looked like they were playing streetball much of the time.
"I can't even count how many easy baskets they got," Horn said.
A lot of them came from senior Wayne Chism, who had 30 points. The Volts finished with 40 points in the paint.
The only bright spot for South Carolina was Sam Muldrow's career-high 16 rebounds. But the junior center had only six points.
Downey had probably his worst game of SEC play. He was 5-for-20 from the field, getting half of his points from the free throw line. The senior has yet to beat Tennessee in his career.
"Just remember it," Downey said, recalling Horn's words at the buzzer. "We play them again."