KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — South Carolina couldn’t miss from 3-point range and still couldn’t put up much of a challenge against No. 1 Tennessee.
Admiral Schofield had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the top-ranked Volunteers defeated South Carolina 85-73 on Wednesday for their school-record 19th consecutive victory. South Carolina (12-12, 7-4 SEC) made a season-high 14 3-point baskets and shot 60.9 percent from beyond the arc, but still trailed by double digits throughout the last 28 1/2 minutes.
“It’s a game at the end of the day, and they’re going to make shots and we’re going to make shots,” Schofield said. “It’s just we’ve got to eliminate as many opportunities for them to score as we can, and that’s our job. That’s what defense is, just trying to steal possessions away from them and create more for ourselves, especially on the offensive glass.”
Tennessee (23-1) owns the longest active winning streak of any active Division I team and is 11-0 in Southeastern Conference competition for the first time in school history.
The Vols’ high-powered offense assured that Tennessee would keep its winning streak going. Tennessee shot 9 of 20 from 3-point range and had five players score in double figures.
“We’ve got to get tougher,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “It hurts my soul that we’re not a tougher team. That goes against everything I stand for, but those are the kids we’ve got. They’re trying real hard. I’m real proud of them and we’ve got to keep working to get better there.”
On a night when both teams were on fire from beyond the 3-point arc, Tennessee’s superior accuracy from shorter range made the difference. Tennessee was 25 of 49, while South Carolina was just 12 of 40 on 2-pointers.
“That’s all fine and dandy,” South Carolina’s Hassani Gravett said of the Gamecocks’ 3-point accuracy, “but you’ve got to get stops. You can’t keep trading buckets with a team like this.”
Jordan Bowden scored 16 points for Tennessee. Kyle Alexander, Jordan Bone and Lamonte’ Turner added 10 points each. Grant Williams had eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists with only one turnover.
Tre Campbell had 19 points for South Carolina. Carlos Silva provided 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Gravett added 15 points.
Tennessee took command by going on a 26-6 run that turned a 15-12 deficit into a 38-21 advantage. The score was tied 15-all when Jalen Johnson hit a 3-pointer while getting fouled to start a four-point play that put Tennessee ahead for good.
The Vols reeled off 14 straight points later in that 26-6 stretch. The 14-0 spurt featured two dunks by Alexander and 3-pointers from Bowden and Schofield.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks haven’t figured out a way to slow down Tennessee’s offense. Tennessee shot 56.3 percent in a 92-70 victory at South Carolina on Jan. 29. In Wednesday’s rematch, Tennessee shot 49.3 percent and dipped below the 50-percent mark only by missing eight of its last nine attempts.
Tennessee: The Vols are about to enter the toughest stretch of their schedule. Three of their next four games are away from home, including road dates with No. 5 Kentucky and No. 19 LSU each of the next two Saturdays. Tennessee hasn’t faced a ranked team since a Dec. 9 victory over No. 3 Gonzaga, which was ranked No. 1 at the time.
“There’s a lot of basketball left to be played,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I know we’ve got Kentucky next, but I also know that we have to start out with what did we not do well tonight, and what do we have to do to try to fix that before we can even talk about Kentucky.”
South Carolina was playing its first game since losing reserve guard Evan Hinson, who also plays tight end on the Gamecocks’ football team. Hinson had been averaging 9.5 minutes per game off the bench before leaving the basketball team this week to focus on football.
Tennessee welcomed back reserve swingman Yves Pons from a one-game absence after he injured his face while colliding with a teammate in practice last week. Pons wore a clear mask and played just three minutes.
The Gamecocks said after the game this Tennessee team reminds them of their South Carolina squad that reached the Final Four two seasons ago.
“It’s the discipline and the fight they have,” Gravett said.
I’m convinced of it. Imagine, for a second, the offers that would get thrown around as Duke looks for some shooting, or Michigan looks for another playmaker, or Kansas tries to find a way to avoid losing the Big 12 for the first time since Hoobastank was still a thing.
It wouldn’t make the headlines that this Anthony Davis soap opera has, but it would be one of the biggest story in sports.
So with that in mind, let’s pretend this trade deadline exists. What would happen? We have the answers.
One major caveat here: These trades have to benefit both teams, and they have to be trades that, in theory, would be accepted. So, for example, no matter how much I want to imagine someone like Cam Reddish with the freedom he’d have at Kansas. The same can be said for someone like Dylan Windler or Ja Morant or Chris Clemons. Those mid-majors superstars are on teams with the talent to win their league. They’re not making moves right now.
I know it’s kind of silly to require some sensibility for something that could never possibly happen, but it makes the exercise that much more fun.
Anyway, here are the trades. Drop a note in the comments or hit me on twitter with any I missed:
WICHITA STATE’S MARKIS MCDUFFIE TO DUKE FOR ALEX O’CONNELL
McDuffie is everything that Duke is missing at this point in the season. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 wing that is a versatile defender and, most importantly, a senior that has already won a bunch of games in March. He’s have the best year of his career this season, averaging 18.9 points while shooting 38.1 percent from three. He’s a better version of Jack White, a piece that can spell any of Duke’s Big Three while also being able to hold his own if Duke went to their death lineup — with McDuffie on the floor with the four freshmen.
O’Connell would be a good get for Gregg Marshall. He’s going to have to be better defensively to fit in there, but you get better defensively when you spend time in that program. And frankly, playing for one of the better programs in the American is more O’Connell’s level than playing for arguably the best program in America. He hasn’t been great for Duke, but keep in mind, he’s an athletic, 6-foot-6 wing that can shoot it from three and was a top 75 prospect coming out of high school.
Wichita State is dead in the water this year, so it makes sense to give up McDuffie for the rest of a wasted season to get two more years of O’Connell in return.
STANFORD’S KZ OKPALA TO MICHIGAN FOR BRANDON JOHNS AND THE COMMITMENT OF JALEN WILSON
Stanford’s season is done. They’re 11-10 on the year, they’re 4-5 in the horrid Pac-12 and while Jerod Haase isn’t quite on the hot seat just yet, he’s getting closer and closer to that territory by the moment. He also has one of the best sophomores in the country on his roster in K.Z. Okpala, a 6-foot-9 wing that shoots 41 percent from three, can handle the ball and will likely end up being a top 20 pick in this year’s draft.
This season is currently going to waste for Okpala, who is the perfect fit on a Michigan team that can go through stretches were they really struggle to score. Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and, to a point, Charles Matthews are sensational defenders that can be liabilities on the offensive end of the floor, and when all of them are playing roughly 20 minutes together, Michigan can get bogged down on that end of the floor.
Enter Okpala, who has the length and athleticism to be a plus-defender and whose shooting and playmaking ability will fit in perfectly with a John Beilein offense. He’ll create depth on a roster that doesn’t have a ton of it, and suddenly give Beilein the option of playing a lineup that includes Iggy Brazdeikis, Isaiah Livers, Matthews and Okpala.
Johns is going to end up being pretty good, and Wilson is a top 50 prospect, so that’s a lot to give up, but Johns will play at least one more year behind Teske and Livers, and Wilson can be replaced on the recruiting trail still. Okpala gives Michigan a real chance to win a title this season, and Stanford will be getting good foundational pieces to add to a young core in return.
NORTHWESTERN’S VIC LAW TO KANSAS FOR CHARLIE MOORE
SOUTH CAROLINA’S CHRIS SILVA TO KANSAS FOR MARCUS GARRETT
Charlie Moore has not had anywhere near the impact we thought he would have this season for Kansas. Devon Dotson has taken over starting point guard duties, and Moore — who was good for a bad Cal team as a freshman — has been forced into essentially being a back-up point guard that shoots a bunch of threes. Northwestern is closer to his level, and Law is a perfect piece to add to the Kansas roster. He’s a versatile and talented 6-foot-7 wing defender — he’s averaging better than 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game this season — that is averaging 15.0 points and 2.9 assists this season. He’s not shooting it all that well this year, but the last two seasons, he was a 39 percent three-point shooter.
But it is the second trade here that really gets the juice flowing. Marcus Garrett has become surplus to requirements for the Jayhawks with the emergence of Ochai Agbaji and the struggles of Quentin Grimes, which has made it seem more and more likely he’ll end up in Lawrence for a second season. Garrett is one of the nation’s best defenders, but he is not the offensive weapon that Self needs him to be.
He is, however, the perfect fit longterm for a South Carolina program that is more or less dead in the water right now. They aren’t going to get an at-large bid and currently sit three games behind the No. 1 team in the country and two games behind the No. 5 team in the country in the SEC title race. Chris Silva is a hoss in the paint and maybe the most underrated big man in the sport. He’s precisely what Kansas needs for the rest of the year with Udoka Azubuike out and the rest of their frontcourt not ready.
These two deals would make Kansas the best team in the Big 12 and would not totally mortgage the program’s future.
USC’S BENNIE BOATWRIGHT TO SYRACUSE FOR JALEN CAREY
Bennie Boatwright is perfect for Syracuse. He’s 6-foot-10 and he’s not all that interested in playing defense, which makes him a perfect fit to be hidden in that zone. He also can shooting the cover off the ball, and what the Orange need more than anything else is someone that can create some space offensively. He’ll pull defenses out of the lane and allow Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett to do what they do best.
Jalen Carey has had some flashes for the Orange, but he’s on the smaller side and he can’t really shoot it, which has limited his effectiveness as the season has gone on.
TULSA’S DAQUAN JEFFRIES TO TEXAS TECH FOR KYLER EDWARDS
Finding the right fit for Texas Tech was tough. I toyed with Justin James of Wyoming, a number of the other wings you currently see on this list as well as Robert Franks from Washington State. I finally settled on Jeffries.
A lot of people won’t be familiar with Jeffries, but he would be a perfect fit for the Red Raiders. He’s tough as hell, he’s a really good defender and, most importantly, he can shoot it from three. That is the big thing that this team needs — floor-spacing. Someone that can ease the burden that is on Jarrett Culver’s shoulders. Jeffries can be that guy.
Giving up Kyler Edwards would not be ideal, but Texas Tech does have some depth on their perimeter and some pieces coming in in their backcourt. He’ll be a star for Tulsa in the American, and would give Frank Haith a nice building block moving forward.
ST. JOSEPH’S CHARLIE BROWN TO KENTUCKY FOR JEMARL BAKER
Charlie Brown is a talented, 6-foot-7 sophomore with an NBA future that has struggled to find his way within the St. Joe’s program. He needs a fresh start, and his length and athleticism on the perimeter would be a really nice fit on Kentucky’s roster. He can shoot it as well, meaning that the Wildcats won’t lose much with Baker leaving.
St. Joe’s, on the other hand, will be getting a former four-star recruit that needs a place where he can get more minutes to prove how good he can be.
UTAH’S SEDRICK BAREFIELD TO INDIANA FOR TWO FRESHMEN TO BE NAMED LATER
There are two things that this Indiana program needs: Veteran leadership at the point guard spot, and someone that can consistently hit jumpers to create space for Romeo Langford, Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis to operate. Barefield is a senior that is averaging 16.3 points and 3.8 assists for Utah while shooting 40.6 percent from three. He’s the perfect fit for the Hoosiers, who, in exchange, would send back some of their young pieces. Who do you like? Clifton Moore? Damezi Anderson? Jake Forrester? Jerome Hunter? If I’m Archie Miller, the only guy that I’m not giving up is Robert Phinisee.
NEW MEXICO’S ANTHONY MATHIS TO VCU FOR P.J. BYRD
I really think that this VCU team has a chance to be dangerous this year … if they can find a way to start consistently making threes. Anthony Mathis is a guy that will consistently take, and make, threes. He plays in a system at UNM that is not all that different from what VCU does, and while Byrd has looked promising in his limited minute with the Rams, VCU will be getting Marcus Evans back next season. There won’t be many minutes for him available, and it shouldn’t be that hard for Mike Rhoades to find another point guard to fit what he wants to do.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky used a stellar defense to maintain its roll and throw South Carolina off kilter.
PJ Washington scored 20 points, and routed South Carolina 76-48 Tuesday night for its ninth consecutive victory.
The Wildcats (19-3, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) shot just 41 percent but held the Gamecocks to just 28 percent in the second half and 36 percent overall. It was the seventh time in eight games they’ve held an opponent below 40 percent. Kentucky outscored 17-4 over the final 5:14 to lead 39-28 at the break and stretched its advantage to 29 with 3:23 remaining.
Washington fell short of his fourth consecutive double-double but posted his fourth 20-point game in the past five. He also had five rebounds and two steals.
“Defense is a big part of why we’re winning,” Washington said. “We’re stopping teams and forcing them to get out of their game plans, and it’s great to stop teams like that.”
Tyler Herro, Reid Travis each added 11 points for the Wildcats, but freshman forward EJ Montgomery might have been the happiest contributor after the kind of performance coach John Calipari suggested was possible.
Montgomery came off the bench to post career highs of 11 points and 13 rebounds, his first career double-double. Kentucky dominated South Carolina 50-27 on the glass and forced 19 turnovers leading to 26 points.
“I just kept my head up, stayed focused and kept working,” said Montgomery, who had an assist, block and a steal in 20 minutes. “I knew my time was coming, and I guess today was the day.”
Added Calipari, “This was a game for him to prove it against a really physical team.”
The Wildcats stayed within a game of the conference lead in the process and improved to 28-2 at home against the Gamecocks (11-11, 6-3).
A.J. Lawson and Tre Campbell each had 12 points for South Carolina, which lost for the fourth time in six games.
It was also the Gamecocks’ fourth defeat this season against a top-five opponent, and this one quickly slipped away early in the second half. After consecutive layups by Chris Silva and Lawson, they missed their next 10 attempts and 17 of 19.
South Carolina’s failure to battle physically bothered coach Frank Martin the most.
“We continue to struggle with physicality,” he said. “They screen and (lack of physicality) has been our problem all year. Rebounding is just a stat that represents physicality.
“We’re not a physical team (and) anytime we play a team that plays with any kind of physicality, we don’t answer the bell.”
Kentucky’s top-five status seems set with another impressive win.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks held their own for a while in the first half, even with leading scorer Chris Silva on the bench with two quick fouls 12 seconds apart. He finished with four points, four rebounds and four fouls. Things fell apart late in the first half and they could make little from the field in the second. They also struggled at the line, making just 5 of 14.
Kentucky: It wasn’t a pretty game offensively, just effective when it had to be. Most importantly, the Wildcats gave no ground on the boards or in the paint against an opponent that usually gives them a tough game.
“We played good today,” Calipari said. “I loved our toughness, especially from our young guys.”
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Admiral Schofield had 20 of his 24 points in the second half to lead No. 1 Tennessee to its school record-tying 15th straight victory, 92-70 over South Carolina on Tuesday night.
Grant Williams added 23 points for the Vols (19-1, 7-0 Southeastern Conference), who saw a double-digit lead cut to 60-58 with 13 minutes to play. Jordan Bone then scored five straight points to start an 18-6 run over the next six minutes that helped Tennessee stay perfect in SEC play.
Tennessee matched its program-best winning streak, which began in January 1915 and lasted through February 1917. It was Williams early on and Schofield late who kept the run of success going as the Gamecocks (10-10, 5-2) tried to rally in the second half.
Williams scored 17 points in the opening period to move Tennessee out front by as many as 12 points. Schofield, 1 of 4 shooting the first 20 minutes, found his touch after the break in scoring nine of his team’s first 13 points to keep the Vols in the lead.
Chris Silva had 28 points — only six the second half — and 10 rebounds for South Carolina, which fell to 1-13 all time against No. 1 opponents.
The game featured two of the SEC’s top post players in Tennessee’s Williams and South Carolina’s Silva — and the pair did not disappoint as both were practically unstoppable early on.
Silva, the 6-foot-9 senior who set his career high of 32 points against then-No. 16 Auburn a week ago, looked like he aimed to surpass that with 22 points in the first 20 minutes. Williams, a 6-7 junior and a candidate for SEC player of the year, matched Silva shot for shot before the break.
Tennessee: The Vols are fast, strong and skilled around the basket. There’s a good chance they’ll return to Colonial Life Arena in March as a high NCAA seed. The building is hosting tournament first- and second-round games.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks saw their Tuesday night magic against SEC ranked opponents fall short. South Carolina had beaten then-No. 14 Mississippi State on Jan. 8 and then-16th-ranked Auburn seven days ago.
Tennessee played without guard Jordan Bowden, who started the season’s first five games, but has become the team’s first reserve off the bench. Bowden tweaked his knee during shootaround. He has averaged 27.2 minutes and 10.9 points per game.
Tennessee finishes a two-game trip at Texas A&M on Saturday night.
South Carolina plays at Georgia on Saturday.
Tuesday’s Things to Know: Michigan outlasts Minnesota on buzzer-beater; upsets in Big 12, MAC, SEC
Following a slow Monday, college basketball saw plenty of ranked teams playing intriguing games on Tuesday night as multiple conferences had surprising results. A top-five team needed a buzzer-beater to outlast an unranked opponent at home while ranked teams in the Big 12, MAC and SEC lost on the road.
Charles Matthews buzzer-beater lifts No. 5 Michigan over Minnesota
Even though the Wolverines struggled to a 3-for-22 night from three-point range, they were able to claw back in the second half thanks to their defense.
It’s still concerning that Michigan is playing a bit sluggish at this point in the season, but a conference win is something you’ll take in any way possible.
South Carolina, Alabama knock off No. 16 Auburn, No. 20 Ole Miss for SEC upsets
Things got crazy in the SEC as two ranked teams lost on the road to unranked opponents. Starting off the evening with a win in the early game was suddenly hot South Carolina taking down No. 16 Auburn. The Gamecocks didn’t show many signs of life during the non-conference portion of the season. Chris Silva had a monster outing with 32 points and 14 rebounds to pace the South Carolina offense.
The Gamecocks likely need a giant winning streak to get back in the NCAA tournament conversation, but the start in the SEC is something to keep track of. Suddenly, they’re 5-1 in the league and looking like a very dangerous team.
In the other SEC upset, Alabama made it look relatively easy at home against No. 20 Ole Miss. John Petty led a balanced Crimson Tide effort with 15 points while Donta Hall had 11 points and 10 rebounds. As a team that needs quality wins to get in the NCAA tournament, this win definitely doesn’t hurt for Alabama.
After the Big 12/SEC Challenge, the Crimson Tide get back-to-back games against tough teams with Mississippi State and Auburn. If Alabama can get one or two wins during that stretch, they’ll maintain a decent profile heading into a far easier stretch over the next several weeks.
Kansas State shuts down No. 14 Texas Tech for Big 12 win
This is the type of win that could help Kansas State get back in the top 25 as their defense looked like last year’s postseason form. The Wildcat winning streak is up to five games now — with three of those coming against teams who were ranked at the time.
With back-to-back winnable games on the road against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State coming next, suddenly Kansas State is an intriguing Big 12 contender.
Northern Illinois upsets No. 14 Buffalo in the MAC
For only the second time this season, Buffalo lost a game as the Bulls dropped one to Northern Illinois, 77-75.
Struggling to knock down perimeter jumpers (9-for-30 three-pointers) and turning the ball over (17 times) the Bulls couldn’t overcome a second-half deficit. This loss probably shouldn’t hurt Buffalo’s NCAA tournament credibility too much, but they won’t have much room for error from here on out.
The toughest game Buffalo has left on the schedule will be Toledo on Saturday, Feb. 16, as the Bulls will be expected to win most of their games for the rest of this season.
Silva’s 32 lead Gamecocks to 80-77 win over No. 16 Auburn
COLUMBIA, S.C. — One of Frank Martin’s best coaching moments this season for South Carolina came away from the games or the practice court. He counseled his senior leader Chris Silva to forget about the team’s early problems and savor every minute he had left to play.
Silva has taken that advice and powered the Gamecocks’ surprising run through the Southeastern Conference.
Silva was nearly unstoppable, with career highs of 32 points and 14 rebounds, to lead South Carolina to an 80-77 victory over No. 16 Auburn on Tuesday night. He made 11 of 12 shots, 10 of 11 foul shots and had four of his team’s eight blocks. Silva’s relentless play underneath was also a factor in two of Auburn’s post players fouling out.
“Silva was the difference,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We had nobody to guard him.”
It wasn’t that way through much of the pre-SEC schedule for South Carolina (10-8, 5-1), which lost to mid-majors Stony Brook and Wofford along with heavyweights Michigan and Virginia to enter league play 5-7 overall.
Silva, the 6-foot-9 forward who tested his NBA value last year as a junior, acknowledged the frustration of some of the early losses.
“Frank told me to enjoy the game and that’s what I’m doing right now, enjoying the game,” Silva said. “And when I enjoy the game, the emotions come out of me.”
Silva leaped high when the horn sounded, celebrating with teammates and cheering fans over the Gamecocks’ fifth victory in six league games.
Felipe Haase’s 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left put South Carolina ahead for good, and Silva’s final two foul shots sealed the win.
The Tigers (13-5, 2-3) used a late 12-0 run to wipe out South Carolina’s 71-61 lead. They were still ahead 77-75 after Jared Harper’s two free throws with 56.3 to go. That’s when Haase nailed his long-range, go-ahead basket from the right corner.
Chuma Okeke missed a 3-pointer and Danjel Purifoy couldn’t connect on a driving basket on Auburn’s next possession before Silva came down with his 14th rebound and got fouled with 2.5 seconds to play.
Silva made both, and Auburn threw away the pass on its final possession to lose its second straight heartbreaker following an 82-80 loss to Kentucky last Saturday.
Pearl said games like the past two are just part of the SEC grind, and he’ll make sure his players don’t get too down on themselves.
“You’ve got to keep your locker room and you’ve got to fight through some adversity,” he said.
Auburn appeared to be finished after Hassani Gravett’s floater went in just as the shot clock expired for a 71-61 lead with 6:33 to go. But the explosive Tigers shot their way back in it, making five of their next six attempts in a two-minute span.
Okeke’s 3 from the left front put Auburn ahead 73-71 with 4:01 remaining, capping a 12-0 surge.
Brown and Harper scored 17 points each for Auburn.
THE BIG PICTURE
Auburn: The Tigers showed spurts of stellar play amid several long stretches of offensive struggles. They started the game going 4 of 14 from the field before their closing run. They fell behind 62-53, and then scored six points in four seconds to tighten things up.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have found their stride at the perfect time with Silva in charge. He has become the team’s most accomplished and capable scorer.
Auburn played without 6-foot-11 Austin Wiley, who has averaged 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds this season, for a second straight game. The Tigers could’ve used his size and strength against South Carolina’s post players. Forwards Horace Spencer and Anfernee McLemore fouled out.
Martin had wondered at times earlier this year who would step up as leaders. And he was pleased that his team returned from its only SEC loss — last Saturday night at LSU — with a strong resolve to correct mistakes.
“That’s leadership,” Martin said.
Gravett had three 3-pointers and was South Carolina’s only other double-digit scorer with 13 points.
It was Silva’s 20th career game with double-figure points and rebounds.
Auburn plays at No. 22 Mississippi State on Saturday night.
South Carolina visits Oklahoma State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.