The Georgia Dome finally has a little volume to it. After a fairly quiet Thursday in the stands, the Tennessee fans are in full throat. And any questions we had about the Vols, who have smelled up this tournament the last 10 years, are being answered. Tennessee scores the first nine points of the game.
- If this is supposed to be the cream of the crop of SEC officials, the crop has gone bad. What I see is a lot of lazy officiating, guys calling the obvious and watching the rest of the time.
- Tennessee handed South Carolina its worst two losses of the season this year by a combined 57 points. But for some reason the Gamecocks seem as if they don’t want the Dave Odom Era to end here in Atlanta. Again, part of the problem is Tennessee’s suspect defense. The Vols play tough in spurts but never seem to be able to sustain it and allow teams to go on runs. With 54 seconds remaining in the first half, Carolina has taken a 40-39 lead. The Vols get a putback and lead at the half by one. Zam Frederick has 18 at the half for USC.
- We saw the strangest shot at the end of the half. With 1.4 seconds, Tennessee put the ball in play. Wayne Chism took it from well short of mid-court and heaved it towards the basket. It crawled up on the top of the backboard, rattled around and then fell into the basket. Of course, it didn’t count. Who knows if it would have counted if these were Pac-10 officials?
- It’s a little strange to be here covering the rest of the tournament without Florida after the Gators reached the last four finals. But it’s happened before. In fact, this is my ninth straight tournament where I will see every game. It is still one of my favorite events even thought it was a lot more fun when UF was a serious player. I’ll say this ” with the exception of the Florida game, they have all been entertaining.
- Interesting first half statistic ” Tyler Smith, who I feel is Tennessee’s best player, has yet to score. He does have four rebounds and three assists but has taken only two shots. And Chris Lofton is 0-for-4 on 3-point shots.
- Tennessee gets called for six fouls in the first three minutes. Lot of booing from the Vols fans. It gets worse. JaJuan Smith makes a layup and gets into the face of South Carolina’s Evaldas Baniulus. Smith gives him a little shove and is charged with a technical by referee Doug Shows, who is never one to shy away from being the show.
- Tyler Smith to the rescue again. After a quiet first 30 minutes, he scores nine straight Tennessee points. When in doubt, get it to Tyler Smith. But South Carolina refuses to wilt. It’s 84-83 with 1:38 to go. I told you I love this tournament, even if Florida’s absence means my press seat is in the back row.
- South Carolina takes the lead by Tyler Smith strikes again with a layup. South Carolina takes the lead again on a layup by Dominique Archie with 20.8 seconds to go. Where have these Gamecocks been all year?
- After a timeout with 16.7 seconds to play, Tennessee runs a play to get Lofton a deep, open 3 and, of course, he makes it. Lofton finishes with 10 points but Tennessee wins when South Carolina misses a 3 and then can’t get a shot off in the last second. Absolutely a great game.