KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Sindarius Thornwell scored 22 points Wednesday as South Carolina defeated Tennessee 70-60 for its third straight victory.
South Carolina (13-3, 3-0 SEC) is off to just its second 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference competition since joining the league in 1991-92. South Carolina had a 3-0 start to league play in 1996-97 and went on to post a 15-1 SEC record and earn the conference’s regular-season title that year.
The Gamecocks also have earned back-to-back SEC road wins for the first time since 2011. In its last road game, South Carolina won 67-61 at Georgia on Jan. 4.
Hassani Gravett, who entered the night averaging just 4.2 points per game, scored 12 points for South Carolina. Duane Notice added 11.
Grant Williams scored 15 points and Robert Hubbs III and Lamonte Turner had 12 each for Tennessee (8-8, 1-3), which lost three straight.
On a night when each team committed 22 turnovers, the difference in the game came from 3-point range.
South Carolina shot 7 of 13 from beyond the arc while Tennessee was 1 for 11. Tennessee extended its string of consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer to 183 only after Lamonte Turner made a shot that bounced high off the rim and fell through with 1:51 remaining.
The Volunteers were facing one of the nation’s toughest defenses just one night after announcing that junior guard Detrick Mostella had been dismissed from the team. Mostella had been averaging 10.5 points per game to rank second on the team.
So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that Tennessee’s offense struggled all night. Tennessee had more than twice as many turnovers (14) as baskets (six) in the first half.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks won by relying on the defense that has carried them all season. South Carolina entered the night ranked fifth among all Division I teams in field-goal percentage defense (.371), eighth in 3-point percentage defense (.286) and ninth in scoring defense (60.0). The Gamecocks led the SEC in all three categories.
Tennessee: The Vols clearly missed Mostella, who had a team-high 26 3-poiint baskets this season while providing instant offense off the bench. Tennessee struggled from 3-point range without him and couldn’t make any type of shot for long portions of the game. Tennessee made just one basket during one stretch of nearly 13 ½ minutes in the first half.
South Carolina hosts Mississippi on Saturday.
Tennessee is at Vanderbilt on Saturday.