Notice leads South Carolina to 84-58 win over Tennessee
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Duane Notice remembers South Carolina’s difficulties the past few seasons. He’s much happier helping with the team’s current success.
Notice scored 17 points and his four 3-pointers triggered a late first-half run to take control in the Gamecocks’ 84-58 victory over Tennessee on Wednesday night that matched the team’s most wins in 10 years.
“It’s like every time we win a game, we find out a record that we’ve surpassed or broken,” Notice said with a smile. “It feels good to be on top because we’ve been through the struggles.”
Notice, a junior, went 31-36 with South Carolina (23-5, 10-5 Southeastern Conference) the previous two years. Now, the Gamecocks are tied for second in the SEC, just a game behind league powerhouse Kentucky.
“It’s a great feeling to see the program where it is,” Notice said.
The Gamecocks built a 15-point lead by halftime and finished with their largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent since defeating Texas A&M 80-52 here two seasons ago.
And it was Notice’s long-range shooting that turned a tight game into a runaway. He hit all four of shots from behind the arc — including three straight — in an 18-6 run to close the opening half.
“It was just one of those things where the ball just felt right to me in my hands and I was going to take the best shot possible,” said Notice, who’s scored in double figures in four of the past five games.
Don’t forget Notice’s defensive effort either, South Carolina coach Frank Martin pointed out, as he checked Tennessee point guard Shembari Phillips, in because 22-point-a-game scorer and leader Kevin Punter was sidelined with a stress injury to his right foot. Phillips had six of Tennessee’s 12 turnovers.
“Duane’s a bulldog out there on the ball,” Martin said.
Devon Baulkman led Tennessee (13-15, 6-9) with 19 points while Phillips added 16 points.
Michael Carrera had 16 points and 10 rebounds, his fourth consecutive game and 10th this season with double-figure points and boards.
South Carolina looked like it had fallen out of SEC title contention with consecutive losses to Kentucky and Missouri earlier this month. But the Gamecocks came into the night just a game behind the Wildcats for the top spot.
And South Carolina came out quickly to take control, running to an 11-2 lead less than three minutes on. Tennessee was down just 31-28 on Baulkman’s 3-pointer — he had four in the opening half and five overall — with 8:33 to go.
That’s when the Gamecocks closed the half with an 18-6 run to take a 49-34 lead into the break. Notice had 13 points, off four 3-pointers, in that South Carolina stretch. ___
Tennessee: The Vols had a career night at the foul line the last time they faced South Carolina, making 30 of 32 free throws (93.8 percent) in the 78-69 victory on Jan. 23. Tennessee leads the Southeastern Conference in foul-shooting at 73.1 percent. The Vols were just 4 of 11 on foul shots in this one.
South Carolina: When Michael Carrera had 20 points and 15 rebounds in the win over Florida last Saturday, it was his second time this season reaching at least that many in those categories. It was also the first time a South Carolina player has had multiple 20-15 games since Jimmy Foster had three in the 1983-84 season.
First-year Tennessee coach Rick Barnes was not happy with what he saw against South Carolina and made sure his team understood that. Barnes played starters Robert Hubbs III just 17 minutes and Detrick Mostella only nine. Neither played at all in the second half. Barnes said he would not stand for players making excuses and pointing fingers. “Over the next couple of games we’ll find out who’ll do what we need done,” he said.
Ten of the 11 players South Carolina used against Tennessee hit field goals as the Gamecocks finished 32 of 61 (52.5 percent) from the field. It was the third time this SEC season the Gamecocks made better than half their shots. The Gamecocks post players — Laimonas Chatkevicius, Mindaugas Kacinas and Chris Silva — combined to go 13 of 21 from the floor and grabbed a total of 18 rebounds.
Tennessee returns home to face Arkansas on Saturday night.
South Carolina heads to Mississippi State on Saturday.