for this game

Tennessee keeps rolling, crushes South Carolina

Jan 13, 2008 - 4:43 AM COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Tennessee surged to the lead and then turned it over to a suffocating defense to bring home its ninth consecutive victory.

JaJuan Smith led four players in double figures with 15 points as the ninth-ranked Volunteers cruised to an 80-56 win over South Carolina in a Southeastern Conference battle on Saturday.

"We go as JaJuan Smith goes," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "He went up against some great guards and was really impressive."

Tennessee (14-1, 2-0 SEC East) held South Carolina to 33 percent (8-of-24) shooting in the second half and outrebounded them 41-25 in the contest.

"We had a pretty good defensive effort tonight," Pearl said. "Our offensive efficiency lapsed at times. We were able to jump on them at the beginning of both halves."

Smith and Wayne Chism sparked an 11-0 run to begin the game with five points apiece and the Volunteers built the lead up to 28-15 with 8:07 left in the opening half after a pair of free throws by Ramar Smith.

South Carolina (8-8, 0-2) cut it to 43-35 at the break as Devan Downey scored nine points in the final 7:06 to finish with 14 in opening the half.

"It's definitely frustrating after a game like this, but we just have to stay positive," Downey said. "We have to work harder."

Downey ended up with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting to lead all scorers, but the Gamecocks fell out of it quickly in the second half, managing just one field goal in the first seven minutes.

"It doesn't matter that I had 24 points, our team lost," Downey said. "I don't know what we need, but Coach (Dave) Odom is a good coach so I know he will come up with something."

Chism, JaJuan Smith and Ramar Smith scored four points each during Tennessee's 20-3 run to begin the second.

"We started the second half off big," Pearl said. "We really came to play. I think the loss (against the Gamecocks) last year may have had something to do with it."

"I thought during halftime, if we could correct a couple things offensively and defensively, that we could make a run at them," Odom said. "I never dreamt that we would come out of the locker room so flat."

The Volunteers shot 43 percent (26-of-60) from the floor and 20-of-26 from the free-throw line in the win. They will go for their 10th straight win Thursday against 12th-ranked Vanderbilt, which fell from the ranks of the unbeaten earlier Saturday with a 79-73 overtime loss at Kentucky.

"Tennessee played extremely well for 40 minutes," Odom said. "They have a very good basketball team. They're good on defense. They're good on offense."

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    TENNESSEE (9) 43 37 80

    Jan 12 9:59 PM

    (9) TENNESSEE 43

    Jan 12 8:56 PM