Nkamhoua’s perfect game leads No. 8 Vols to 85-42 victory over South Carolina

South Carolina head coach Lamont Paris, left, speaks with Gregory Jackson II (23) during the...
South Carolina head coach Lamont Paris, left, speaks with Gregory Jackson II (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)(Sean Rayford | AP)
Published: Jan. 7, 2023 at 6:32 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Olivier Nkamhoua scored a season-high 21 points on 10-of-10 shooting and No. 8 Tennessee dominated from the start for an 85-42 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.

The Vols (13-2) started 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference for the first time in four seasons and showed the depth and talent to think that streak in the rugged league could continue.

Nkamhoua, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, led Tennessee with 10 rebounds for his second double-double this season.

Nkamhoua, who went 5 for 5 for 10 points in an 83-57 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday, continued his run of perfection against the Gamecocks.

He was a major part in the Vols’ quick start, scoring seven points the first 10 minutes as Tennessee built a 24-7 lead on the way to its ninth victory in the past 10 games with South Carolina (7-8, 0-2).

The Vols broke out to a 15-3 lead and never looked back.

South Carolina missed 10 of 11 shots during one stretch and settled for outside shots, which the Gamecocks struggled to connect on as they were 1 of 13 on 3s the first 20 minutes.

Tennessee took advantage of South Carolina’s defensive lapses to build a 43-21 lead at the break.

Nkamhoua hit all five of his shots and the Vols shot 60.7% (17 of 28) in the opening half.

Tennessee was in such command that coach Rick Barnes called a timeout — the Vols led 40-21 — with 15.5 seconds before halftime to practice a late-game situation. It worked perfectly as the Vols worked the ball around to Santiago Vescovi, who drained an uncontested 3-pointer as the clock ran out.

Jonas Aidoo had 15 points, while Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James added 12 apiece for the Vols, who shot better than 50% for the third time in the past four games.

Meechie Johnson had 19 points for South Carolina.

BIG PICTURE

Tennessee: The Vols have the deep, skilled roster necessary to win championships. The trick for Barnes will be keeping them engaged in the grind the next two months before the SEC and NCAA Tournaments take off.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks spent too much time in this one shooting from way outside — with predictable results for a team ranked last in SEC shooting. South Carolina went just 2 of 20 on 3s and five-star freshman Gregory “GG” Jackson finished with on points on 0-of-7 shooting.

UP NEXT

Tennessee is home Tuesday to face Vanderbilt.

South Carolina plays at Kentucky on Tuesday.