USC Men's Basketball

Chris Silva shines, but No. 1 Tennessee proves too much for Gamecocks

The best photos as Gamecocks drop game to No. 1 Tennessee

South Carolina loss to the Tennessee Volunteers 92-70 at Colonial Life Arena Tuesday Jan. 29, 2019, in Columbia, SC.
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South Carolina loss to the Tennessee Volunteers 92-70 at Colonial Life Arena Tuesday Jan. 29, 2019, in Columbia, SC.

If Colonial Life Arena was featuring a solo act Tuesday night, the 18,000 who crammed into the building left feeling more than satisfied.

Chris Silva, South Carolina’s main attraction for the past couple years, turned in a show-stopping performance. He was everything for the Gamecocks, finding success close to the rim and out beyond the 3-point line. He wowed spectators with highlight-reel blocks and and strong drives through multiple defenders.

But the capacity crowd probably figured they’d get such entertainment from an All-SEC player. They wanted more. What could the rest of USC’s cast have to offer?

Against college basketball’s No. 1 team? Not a whole lot.

Top-ranked Tennessee was the complete package in its 92-70 win over South Carolina.

Four Volunteers scored in double figures while the Gamecocks countered with Silva’s 28 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

“He was in a street fight all by himself,” said Carolina coach Frank Martin. “No one helped him.”

USC (10-10) dropped to 5-2 in the SEC and missed out on a fourth straight home win over a ranked league opponent. The Volunteers improved to 19-1 and remained undefeated in the SEC.

South Carolina loss to the Tennessee Volunteers 92-70 at Colonial Life Arena Tuesday Jan. 29, 2019, in Columbia, SC.

After three Tre Campbell free throws cut the UT lead to two with 13:07 left, the Volunteers outscored the Gamecocks 32-12 the rest of the way.

Grant Williams, proving why he’s a shoo-in for a second straight SEC Player of the Year honor, had 23 points and eight rebounds. Admiral Schofield, Williams’ top sidekick, had 20 of his 24 points in the second half, including a 3 at the 10:15 mark that established UT’s double-digit advantage.

The 6-foot-6, 241-pound Schofield was Martin’s biggest concern entering the game. He feared Carolina lacked a defensive answer for him at the small forward position.

“I know (UT coach) Rick (Barnes),” Martin said. “Rick was gonna go at that matchup the whole game. And that’s what he did. He created problems for us in that matchup.”

Tennessee shot 56 percent from the floor. It made 64 percent of its 2-point attempts and had seven more assists than turnovers. Point guard Jordan Bone had 19 points and nine assists, running an offense that scored more on the Gamecocks than any Carolina opponent of the last five years.

“He was really terrific in transition,” Barnes said of Bone. “We opened the post up a little bit to let him get down the lane and see what he can do. He made some nice reads for us.”

Considering all that happened, South Carolina wasn’t in terrible shape at halftime. The Gamecocks were down nine despite the Volunteers doing whatever they wanted on offense. It shot 58 percent and scored 47 points.

Tennessee out-raced USC down the floor on several occasions. When things slowed and the Vols had to run half-court sets, they sent everything through their best player.

Williams was a magnet to his preferred spots, often just needing a couple power dribbles to get near the rim. The Naismith Award candidate had 17 points on 17 shots — from the field and the line — in the opening period. His jumper with 1:53 left put Tennessee up 44-32, matching its biggest advantage to that point.

Williams was only outdone early by Silva, who scored 15 of Carolina’s final 19 points of the half. He was held to six points in the second half.

“I gave everything I had in the first half,” Silva said. “I still had energy. They did what we expected them to do. They doubled the post. I guess I didn’t do a good job of being available and asking for the ball in the second half.”

Silva might have worn down, but assistance was sparse. Only Campbell (14) joined him as a double-figure scorer.

“On the interior, no one helped him,” Martin said. “We got not help from Maik (Kotsar), Felipe (Haase) or Alanzo Frink. Keyshawn (Bryant) didn’t provide any help either.”

The Gamecocks return to action Saturday at Georgia.

BOX SCORE

No. 1 TENNESSEE 92, SOUTH CAROLINA 70

TENNESSEE (19-1)

Williams 9-15 5-8 23, Alexander 1-3 0-0 2, Schofield 9-17 5-5 24, Turner 5-8 0-0 13, Bone 7-13 2-2 19, Fulkerson 3-4 0-0 6, Pons 0-2 0-0 0, Walker 1-1 1-5 3, Johnson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 36-64 13-20 92.

SOUTH CAROLINA (10-10)

Silva 7-13 12-16 28, Bryant 0-3 0-0 0, Kotsar 4-7 0-2 8, T.Campbell 4-8 3-3 14, Lawson 4-13 0-2 9, Haase 1-2 1-4 3, Frink 0-0 1-2 1, Gravett 2-8 0-0 4, Hinson 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 23-57 17-29 70.

Halftime: Tennessee 47-38. 3-Point Goals: Tennessee 7-19 (Bone 3-5, Turner 3-6, Schofield 1-5, Pons 0-1, Williams 0-2), South Carolina 7-22 (T.Campbell 3-4, Silva 2-3, Hinson 1-3, Lawson 1-5, Haase 0-1, Bryant 0-1, Kotsar 0-1, Gravett 0-4). Fouled Out: Alexander. Rebounds: Tennessee 34 (Williams, Schofield 9), South Carolina 28 (Silva 10). Assists: Tennessee 17 (Bone 9), South Carolina 7 (Gravett 3). Total Fouls: Tennessee 20, South Carolina 19. A: 18,000 (18,000).

NEXT GAME

Who: South Carolina at Georgia

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Stegeman Coliseum in Athens

TV: SEC Network

South Carolina loss to the Tennessee Volunteers 92-70 at Colonial Life Arena Tuesday Jan. 29, 2019, in Columbia, SC.

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.

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