James, Zeigler lead No. 11 Vols to rout of Gamecocks
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For a second time this season, Tennessee defeated South Carolina by at least 40 points, taking down the Gamecocks in dominant fashion, 85-45 Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee's pair of wins over South Carolina totaled an 83-point margin, as the Vols won 85-42 in Columbia on Jan. 7. Tennessee has won each of the last six meetings in Knoxville against the Gamecocks and 10 of the last 11 meetings overall in the series.
The Vol's four total turnovers Saturday stood as UT's fewest in a game during the eight-year tenure of head coach Rick Barnes.
Five Vols scored in double figures Saturday as Tennessee assisted on 29 of its 36 made field goals. UT shot 58 percent from the floor and just over 43 percent (10-of-23) from 3-point range.
Coming off a four-game injury absence, Josiah-Jordan James tied for a game-high scoring effort, leading the Vols with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including a 4-of-7 mark from 3-point range, two rebounds and an assist. Jahmai Mashack logged 14 points, connecting on 5-of-7 field-goal attempts and made both of his 3-point attempts to go along with six rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals.
Zakai Zeigler posted a double-double, scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field-including his 3-of-4 clip from beyond the arc-and dishing out a career-high 11 assists.
Olivier Nkamhoua recorded an efficient performance, totaling 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, eight rebounds and five assists in the win. Uros Plavsic finished with 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting effort. Santiago Vescovi logged seven points, four assists and four rebounds.
South Carolina had just one player score more than seven points, with Hayden Brown registering 18 points on a 7-of-14 shooting effort.
James led Tennessee in scoring in the first half, coming off the bench for 10 points in as many minutes. Zeigler and Plavsic weren't far behind, scoring eight apiece in the opening half. Tennessee matched South Carolina's first-half point total of 26 with 26 points of its own just in the paint, taking a 12-point lead into the break, 38-26.
Early in the second half, Jonas Aidoo hammered down an alley-oop dunk off a Zeigler assist to put Tennessee up by 19 points, before a Nkamhoua jumper the following possession gave the Vols their first lead of 20 points, leading by 21 at 51-30.
With just under nine minutes remaining in the game Saturday, Tennessee had four double-figure scorers-Zeigler, Nkamhoua, Plavsic and James-compared to one for South Carolina, Brown.
Through the first 13 minutes of the second half, South Carolina amassed just four made field goals with five turnovers. At that point, just three Gamecocks had registers points in the second half, combining for eight points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field.
Tennessee used a 22-5 second-half run to take a 73-39 lead and ended the game on a 34-11 run over the final 12:35 of play. UT made six of its final seven field-goal attempts on the night.
SCORIN' AND DISHIN': Saturday's 13-point, 11-assist double-double is Zakai Zeigler's fifth points/assists double-double this season, but ties him for the program's career record, which was set by Rodney Woods from 1972-75.
STIFLING DEFENSE: For the 12th time this season, Tennessee held its opponent to 50 or fewer points-a mark that leads the nation.
THE WINNING MARGIN: Saturday's 40-point victory also marked Tennessee's 12th win this season by 20 or more points-a program record for 20+ point wins in a single season.
MAKING IT RAIN: Tennessee shot .567 from the field in the first half and .594 in the second half, its best shooting percentages in any half since shooting .625 in the second half against Texas on Jan. 28.
The Vols have now shot 50 percent or better from the field during a half 18 times this season.
MONEY: Tennessee hit 10 3-pointers Saturday night, marking its 10th game with at least 10 made threes this season. With the Vols making 10+ threes 14 times last year, it becomes the first time since the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons in which Tennessee has made 10+ 3-point shots in a game at least 10 times in consecutive seasons.
UP NEXT: Tennessee is back inside Thompson-Boling Arena for the final time this season for Senior Night, taking on Arkansas on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN2.