KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- No. 19 Tennessee was just seven points shy of eclipsing the century mark, scoring the most points since December of 2020 to beat South Carolina, 93-73.
The Vols picked up their sixth win over the Gamecocks in the two team’s last seven meetings after a season-best performance from both Victor Bailey Jr. and John Fulkerson.
The Vols jumped out to an early 14-11 lead following back-to-back threes from Bailey Jr.
A three from Santiago Vescovi made it a 17-14 game, but South Carolina matched the Vols three-point shooting to tie it at 17 with 11:39 left in the first half.
The Gamecocks continued to make a splash, knocking down 7 of their 9 three-point attempts to take the lead 23-21 with 9:40 before intermission.
AJ Lawson and TJ Moss paced the Gamecocks in scoring combining for 20 points, both shooting 66% from beyond the arc.
However, as South Carolina started to go cold, Tennessee got hot.
The Vols went on a 12-2 run to pull away from South Carolina 38-29.
Bailey Jr. scored 14 points and made 4 of his 7 attempts from beyond the arc, while Jaden Springer added 10 points to help the Vols lead 50-39 at the half.
Tennessee turned the ball over three times in two minutes putting the Gamecocks back within nine points to make it a 64-55 score, but the Vols continued to push the tempo.
The Vols went on a 12-0 run to extend their lead 91-69 with a minute left in the game. The Vols capped off an explosive offensive performance with a Drew Pember dunk to send the Gamecocks home riding a four-game losing skid.
Tennessee shot 54% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc.
With the absence of Santiago Vescovi in the starting five and Josiah-Jordan James out, VJ stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. The redshirt junior guard had a career night, scoring a career-best 29 points on 7-10 shooting from three-point range.
Fulkerson scored a season-high 19 points while adding 6 rebounds.
The win extends Tennessee’s home win streak to four games. Tennessee improves to 15-5 on the season and 8-5 in SEC play.
Up Next: The Vols host Kentucky on February 20 with tip-off set for 1 P.M.