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 vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Up 1: Finishing Strong

To be honest, the Gamecocks' win over Tennessee was not a pretty one. Carolina played what was probably their worst overall offensive game of the season. The defense was good, but a couple of Tennessee scoring runs kept the Vols in it.

However, when the chips were down in the 4th quarter, Dawn Staley's team stepped up. In what was a tie game heading into the final period, the Gamecocks outscored the Volunteers by 11 points in the 4th to pull away in a game that was close throughout.

As she often does, Bree Hall hit a clutch jumper to bounce back from her early game struggles, and the strong post defense from Kamilla Cardoso and Ashlyn Watkins locked the Vols down in the closing minutes.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Up 2: Overcoming Slow Start to Dominate the Boards

Dawn Staley's team does not get out-rebounded often. Through the 1st quarter, they trailed Tennessee on the glass by 7 rebounds, and winning the battle on the boards was an uphill climb. They managed to pull it off, however.

After the 16-9 deficit, Carolina out-rebounded UT by 14 over the final three periods. Raven Johnson led the way with an astonishing 15 rebounds (breaking her new career-high of 12 set on Sunday), and Kamilla Cardoso and Ashlyn Watkins both pulled down double-digit missed shots.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Up 3: Shot Defense

A good offensive Tennessee team didn't look very good trying to score the ball against the South Carolina defense. Other than a short hot stretch in the 3rd quarter in which they scored 9 points in 2 minutes on perfect shooting from the floor and free throw line, Tennessee only managed 46 points in the other 38 minutes of the game on 18-62 shooting.

The defense on the perimeter felt even more suffocating as UT made just 2-17 shots from outside. Their only two makes came from forwards Rickea Jackson and Sara Puckett who were able to get their shot off simply by being taller than the player who closed out against them.

In a game in which points were at a premium for the offense, the Gamecock D was excellent enough to overcome the team's deficiencies with the ball.