Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

South Carolina delivered another win over a top-10 opponent, this time on the road with a 63-59 win over No. 5 Tennessee on Tuesday. The win over the Vols marked the Gamecocks’ first victory over a top-5 opponent on the road since the program knocked off No. 3 Kentucky on March 2, 1997. 

Last week South Carolina (18-3, 6-2 SEC) defeated Kentucky at home by 17 points and followed up that performance with a win over Missouri. South Carolina moved ahead of Tennessee in the SEC standings and is just a half-game back of Alabama for first place in the SEC in Year 2 of the Lamont Paris era.

South Carolina guard Ta’Lon Cooper scored 18 points, BJ. Mack added 16 points and Myles Stute knocked down four clutch free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the upset.

Tennessee (15-5, 5-2) came into this game unbeaten at home with a perfect 10-0 record before dropping this game. The Vols came into the week winners of 11 of their last 12 games.

Dalton Knecht recorded his sixth game with at least 25 points, scoring 31 for the Vols. Knecht is only the second SEC player in the last 19 seasons to accomplish that feat, joining South Carolina’s Devan Downey.

South Carolina is a true SEC contender 

In the preseason SEC media poll, South Carolina was tabbed to finish last in the conference. With Selection Sunday seven weeks away, it would take almost a historic collapse for the Gamecocks to miss the NCAA Tournament. They sit at 18-3 overall and are just 0.5 games back of Alabama for first place in the conference. South Carolina coach Lamont Paris deserves a ton of credit for the turnaround and there’s a very strong possibility he will be the SEC Coach of the Year at season’s end. 

South Carolina didn’t just beat Kentucky last week, they dominated. One week later, they went on the road and recorded one of the most impressive wins of any team this season. Teams ranked inside the top 5 were an astonishing 51-2 at home this season. The last time a top-5 opponent lost at home was on Nov. 10, when Arizona went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocked off Duke. 

The Gamecocks went 11-21 overall and 4-14 in conference play last season. Tonight showed that they aren’t just an NCAA Tournament team, but a real threat to win the SEC if they continue this play for the next seven weeks. South Carolina beat Tennessee on the road despite its leading scorer (Meechie Johnson) scoring three points. This was the statement Paris and company needed to make to show they were a real threat. With this win, they did just that.

Knecht is going to be a first-team All-American

Tennessee star guard Dalton Knecht is putting up numbers that haven’t been done in SEC in nearly 20 years. Knecht recorded his sixth game with at least 25+ points and simultaneously posted his fifth 30+ point game in the process. If Zach Edey wasn’t playing college basketball right now, he would be one of, if not the top favorite to win Player of the Year.

Knecht has been one of the biggest surprises in the sport. The former Northern Colorado star has given coach Rick Barnes a true No.1 scoring option. Before this loss, the Vols had won 11 of their last 12 games and looked like the clear favorite to potentially win the conference. Tennessee is now in a three-way tie for third place in the SEC with Auburn and Kentucky. The Vols’ next opponent is arguably their biggest game of the season — a road clash, at Rupp Arena against Kentucky. If Tennessee wants to get back on track, they will have to rely on Knecht.

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