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

South Carolina basketball beat the Tennessee Volunteers in a classic game in Greenville to advance to the SEC Tournament final.

Kamilla Cardoso celebrating with her South Carolina basketball teammates after her game-winning shot.
Kamilla Cardoso celebrating with her South Carolina basketball teammates after her game-winning shot. / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Up 1: Kamilla Cardoso

Honestly, Saturday was not Kamilla Cardoso's best game, but when you hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win a game in the SEC Tournament, you get a "thumbs up."

The Brazilian post player scored 13 points and pulled down 5 rebounds. She also had 3 blocks.

But no one wants to talk about that.

With just one second left in the game and trailing by 2 points, the Vols elected to leave Cardoso open at the top of the key. She confidently caught Raven Johnson's inbound pass, stepped behind the 3-point line, and banked in the game-winner before getting mobbed by her teammates.

Making the moment even better, Coach Staley noticed the Vols were going to leave Cardoso and that there probably wouldn't be enough time for a pass. The Gamecock head coach yelled out to Cardoso to (in her words), "Shoot the blanky blank" when she got the pass. After she shot the blanky blank, and the blanky blank dropped through the hoop, Cardoso's family (visiting from Brazil) continued the team's celebration in the stands.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Up 2: The Class of 2023

MiLaysia Fulwiley, Tessa Johnson, and Chloe Kitts all were part of the high school class of 2023 (Kitts wound up reclassifying and enrolling early), and the three-headed group of youngsters were really good on Saturday.

Fulwiley tied Cardoso for the team lead in points with 13 in just 13 minutes.

Johnson had 8 points and 3 assists, including one impressive wraparound pass in the clutch that led to a paint bucket for the Gamecocks.

Kitts scored early in both halves, and her 8 points and 6 rebounds helped her lead the team in +/- during her 17 minutes on the floor.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Thumbs Up 3: Fast Start

The Gamecocks got off to a strong start against the Vols, and they needed every bit of that fast start to win. When the 1st quarter ended, Dawn Staley's team had 20 rebounds and 0 turnovers as they led 19-6.

After 7 minutes of play, Carolina led 13-0, and in the 2nd quarter, USC led by 23 points. From that point on, Tennessee dominated the scoreboard, making things far too uncomfortable down the stretch for South Carolina basketball fans.