South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from road win over Tennessee

South Carolina basketball knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville to move to 24-0.

South Carolina basketball star Kamilla Cardoso
South Carolina basketball star Kamilla Cardoso / Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY
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South Carolina basketball has won most of their games in the 2023-2024 season in blowout fashion. Games that have been ugly from the outset and games that saw Dawn Staley's group slowly grow a lead over time have both happened, but the final score almost always has been one that isn't close.

The Gamecocks had to win an ugly one on Thursday.

USC earned their way to 24-0 in Knoxville, Tennessee, but the win against the Volunteers was uncomfortable. The Vols got off to a strong start rebounding the ball, requiring Carolina to play even tougher than usual when shots clanged off the iron (something that happened a lot in this game).

Kamilla Cardoso, fresh off of her Olympic qualifying run, and Ashlyn Watkins carried the day, combining for 32 points and 20 rebounds as they both earned double-doubles. Point guard Raven Johnson secured a new career-high in rebounds by grabbing 15 misses, and even with the low-scoring total, South Carolina had three players (Johnson, Cardoso, and Te-Hina Paopao) pick up at least 3 assists.

The Gamecocks missed a lot of "free point" opportunities by shooting just 50% from the free throw line and missing way too many layups. MiLaysia Fulwiley and the starting perimeter unit of Raven Johnson, Te-Hina Paopao, and Bree Hall missed the most, and for the entire game, their struggles led to a 7-32 shooting night. Tessa Johnson couldn't get going, either, making just 1-5 of her shot attempts.

However, the Gamecocks continue to prove that they can win even without a complete effort. The nation's best team beat a good Tennessee team by 11 points on Thursday despite a bad offensive day. They cannot rely on that sort of thing to continue, but with a realistic hope of improved offense moving forward, fans have to be confident that the team's winning ways will continue as Dawn Staley and her team work toward another undefeated regular season and a run at the program's third national championship.

South Carolina basketball won their 42nd regular-season game in a row, tying the all-time SEC record.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers. 55. 534. Final. 66. 533