KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — There wasn’t a big Tennessee crowd in Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday because of the 9 p.m. tip-off.
The third-smallest crowd of the season — 13,126 — made its presence known the entire game, though. The feedback wasn’t completely in favor of the Vols or against South Carolina. Instead, fans mainly voiced their collective displeasure with the referees.
There were 40 fouls called in the game and multiple stops in play to review calls.
This didn’t hinder Tennessee too much as the Vols used a strong second half to put away South Carolina 70-67.
Forward Grant Williams scored on a spin move in the paint with 8.6 seconds left to give the Vols a three-point lead and clinch the victory. He played like the best player on the floor and helped carry the Vols.
The Vols (19-6, 9-4 SEC) were coming off their worse loss of the season. This might be seen as a palate cleanser, but coach Rick Barnes was visibly frustrated at times during the game.
Barnes rotated players regularly and typically pulled players after mistakes. During a timeout midway through the second half, Barnes spent the entire time yelling at his team.
Obviously, the coach feels there is plenty to work on with March around the corner.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield turn in efficient games
Williams and Admiral Schofield struggled with Alabama’s length and height Saturday. Those issues were gone against the South Carolina front line.
Williams led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and made 8 of 9 free throws. Schofield added 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Tennessee is at its best with this duo scoring the ball and dictating how the game is played. They are a physical force down low. There seemed to be an effort to get both involved on offense.
Tennessee has negative assist-turnover ratio
Tennessee can be one of the best passing teams in the country, but the Vols have had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio in their last three games.
The three opponents — Kentucky, Alabama and South Carolina — are good defensive teams that pressured the Vols into more turnovers than normal.
Tennessee had 15 turnovers and 12 assists against the Gamecocks. Three turnovers came in the final three minutes, keeping the door open for South Carolina.
Grant Williams, the plus/minus darling
Williams had the best plus/minus of any Vols player on Tuesday night at plus-10. Tennessee is simply better when he is on the court.
Center Kyle Alexander usually posts one of the best plus/minuses on the team but finished with a minus-7.
Alexander played only nine minutes as Barnes went with smaller lineups. The junior had three personal fouls, so that was part of the reason for the lack of minutes.
Tennessee typically plays better defense with Alexander anchoring the team in the paint. An interesting subplot the next few games will be how much Barnes uses Alexander or opts for more offensively geared lineups.