South Carolina guard AJ Lawson (00) plays against Vanderbilt in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
- Tennessee Volunteers look to overcome inconsistency in conference play as they host the slumping South Carolina Gamecocks
- Vols just 4-4 in last eight vs conference rivals, while Gamecocks hit the road after poor homestand
- We’ve got you covered below with the odds and trends ahead of Wednesday night’s SEC conference matchup
The Tennessee Volunteers will be aiming to make up for lost ground in the national rankings when they return home on Wednesday to take on the slumping South Carolina Gamecocks as 10.5-point favorites.
The Volunteers have tumbled to No. 19 in the AP Top 25 in the wake of last weekend’s stunning 78-65 loss to LSU as 3-point road chalk. The Gamecocks hit the road after falling to defeat in each of the three games on their recent home stand.
Here’s a look at all the odds and trends ahead of Wednesday night’s clash at Thompson-Boling Arena.
South Carolina vs Tennessee Odds
|South Carolina Gamecocks||+10.5 (-110)||+450||O 141.5 (-110)|
|Tennessee Volunteers||-10.5 (-110)||-620||U 141.5 (-110)|
*Odds taken at FanDuel on 02/16/2021.
Vols’ Mixed Results in Conference Play
The Volunteers have turned in mixed results since opening the season 10-1, including victories in four of their first five conference matchups. Tennessee has stumbled to a middling 4-4 SU record over its past eight outings, covering the spread just twice.
#LSU logged its most impressive win of the season in a 78-65 victory over Tennessee.
Tigers played with so much intensity on the defensive end and continued some hot shooting.
More | https://t.co/8wHo8j9o0W pic.twitter.com/W3lBkeiHnG
— LSU Tigers (@Geaux247) February 14, 2021
The Vols have particularly struggled as big favorites during that stretch, going winless ATS in their past four outings while favored by eight or more points, including outright losses to Missouri and Georgia on home court. Those struggles have played a huge role in the team’s steady decline in the AP Top 25, where they opened the season at No. 12, and peaked at No. 6 just four weeks ago.
Offense Cause for Concern
Maintaining consistency on offense has been a real problem for Tennessee. The Volunteers have shot 37% or less from the field on four occasions over the past eight games. That includes a dismal 35.5% performance in last weekend’s loss to LSU, in which they mustered just 16 points through the first 16 minutes of action.
Tennessee has one of the more talented teams in all of college basketball. This team has the potential to go all the way to the championship game in the NCAA tourney, however, can they find their offense?
If Keon and Jaden continue to score like they did vs UK, look out.
— TENNESSEE SPORTS FAN!!! (@TENNESSEESPORT8) February 10, 2021
As a result, the team has managed to score 56 or fewer points on three occasions over their past eight outings. And while they remain listed at No. 17 overall in the Kenpom ratings, they lag at 66th in adjusted offensive efficiency, and rank 148th in the nation with 72.8 points scored per game.
Gamecocks Enjoy Moderate Success vs Ranked Opponents
The Gamecocks travel to Knoxville looking for answers after going winless during their recent three-game home stand, including outright losses to both Mississippi and Mississippi State as betting favorites.
Domination in the paint paved the way for a South Carolina upset over streaky Florida tonight, 72-66. #Gamecocks outscored the Gators 50-30 in the paint and outrebounded them, 43-35. A.J. Lawson had eight rebounds himself, to go along with a team-high 22 points.#SECHoops
— Rocco Miller (@roccomiller8) February 4, 2021
Overall, the squad has dropped seven of their past nine, but have been steady in their past two dates with nationally ranked opponents. The Gamecocks shocked No. 22 Florida with a 72-66 win over the Gators as 8-point road underdogs two weeks ago. The Gamecocks also gave No. 11 Alabama all they could handle in a narrow 81-78 loss as 7-point home underdogs on Super Bowl Sunday.
Points at a Premium vs Tennessee
AJ Lawson has continued to power the South Carolina attack. The junior guard has led the squad in scoring in each of the past five games, topping 20 points in four of those outings, and is one of just two Gamecocks players averaging over 30 minutes per game this season. However, the talented guard has averaged fewer than eight points per game in four previous appearances vs the Volunteers.
AJ Lawson is averaging 19.1 PPG in SEC play through 10 Games.🇨🇦🏀 @GamecockMBB @ItsAJLawson pic.twitter.com/zAql2CcsiZ
— NPHScouting 🇨🇦🏀🇺🇸 (@NphScouting) February 14, 2021
Indeed, points have been scarce for the Gamecocks in recent dates with Tennessee. South Carolina has averaged just 65.2 points per game while going 1-5 SU in its past six clashes with the Volunteers. That run includes three losses in Knoxville. However, the Gamecocks have managed to keep things close on the road, with two of those three recent losses being settled by a single possession.
The squad has also covered in seven of 11 dates with the Vols, going 5-1 ATS in six outings while pegged as underdogs by 6.5 or more points. Look for that trend to continue on Wednesday night.
The Pick: Gamecocks +10.5 (-110)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.