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McRae, Vols put away Gamecocks 72-53

STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer • Feb 8, 2014 at 6:53 PM

KNOXVILLE — Jordan McRae scored 24 points, hitting 6 of 8 shots from 3-point range, and the Tennessee men's basketball team trounced South Carolina 72-53 on Saturday to beat the Gamecocks for the 13th consecutive time.

South Carolina (8-15, 1-9 Southeastern Conference) hasn't beaten Tennessee since an 81-64 home triumph over the Volunteers on Feb. 17, 2007.

Tennessee (15-8, 6-4) bounced back from a 64-60 loss at Vanderbilt on Wednesday to win for the third time in its last four games. Next up is a home game Tuesday with No. 3 Florida, which buried the Vols 67-41 in Gainesville on Jan. 25.

South Carolina lost for the ninth time in its last 10 games.

Jarnell Stokes had 17 points and eight rebounds and Jeronne Maymon had 10 points and eight rebounds for Tennessee. Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 15 points.

The Gamecocks entered the day shooting an SEC-leading 37.8 percent from 3-point range, but they went 3-for-14 from beyond the arc Saturday. Tennessee shot 7-of-16.

The Vols scored the game's first 10 points, never trailed and capitalized on their edge in size and experience over a South Carolina team that starts three freshmen.

McRae nearly outscored South Carolina by himself in the first half. McRae shot 5-for-6 from 3-point range and had 20 points in the first 20 minutes to give the Vols a 45-22 halftime advantage.

South Carolina didn't have nearly enough firepower to compete and relied far too heavily on Thornwell, a 6-foot-5 freshman guard.

Thornwell scored South Carolina's first nine points. The game was nearly 9½ minutes old by the time someone else on South Carolina's roster got a point. The first South Carolina points from anyone other than Thornwell or Laimonas Chatkevicius came when Brian Steele sank a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in the first half.

South Carolina got a little more balance in the second half and briefly threatened to make a game of it. After trailing by as many as 24 points early in the second half, South Carolina took advantage of Tennessee's sloppy play to go on a 10-0 spurt and cut the deficit to 54-41.

Tennessee's Armani Moore stopped South Carolina's momentum by sinking a 3-pointer with 8:32 remaining. Moore's shot started an 8-0 run that also included a McRae 3-pointer and a basket from Maymon.

The Vols' lead didn't drop below 18 points the rest of the way.

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