Ta'Lon Cooper and B.J. Mack lead the way as South Carolina surprises No. 5 Tennessee 63-59

Ta’Lon Cooper hit a critical 3-pointer with 40 seconds left and scored 18 points, and B

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ta'Lon Cooper hit a critical 3-pointer with 40 seconds left and scored 18 points, and B.J. Mack added 16 points to lead South Carolina to a 63-59 victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Tuesday night.

Myles Stute scored 13 points for the Gamecocks (18-3, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), who have beaten the conference's two highest-ranked teams. They knocked off No. 10 Kentucky on Jan. 23.

“(The players) have a lot of respect,” Gamecocks coach Lamont Paris said. “They have a lot of believers. They're a confident group.”

The victory was South Carolina's first road win over a top-5 team since 1997.

“Our group just battled,” Paris said. “We really had success breaking down some action plans: block out and rebound; take care of the ball.”

Dalton Knecht scored 12 points in the final three minutes and finished with 31 points, and Santiago Vescovi added 10 points for the Volunteers (15-5, 5-2), who had won four straight games and 11 of their last 12 entering the game.

Tennessee had its lowest point total of the season.

“(South Carolina) scored 63,” Vols coach Rick Barnes said. “Our goal is to keep our opponent under 69. We were not a very good offensive team.”

Barnes lamented his team missing 10 layups and going 12 of 20 from the line.

“You can't miss 10 point-blank layups,” Barnes said, “and shoot like we did from the free-throw line and win.”

South Carolina led by three points with 30 seconds left when Stute hit two free throws. Knecht hit a 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining that cut the Tennessee deficit to two points. Stute hit two more free throws with 4 seconds left to seal the win.

“(Stute) respected the moment,” Paris said. “He made the shots.”

Tennessee shot 36% (21 for 58) from the field and 24% (5 for 21) from 3-point distance. South Carolina hit 10 of 29 (35%) 3-pointers, which was better than their 34% (19 for 56) shooting from the field.

South Carolina handled Tennessee's aggressive defense in the first half and led 30-26 at the break.

Cooper had 10 points and Mack nine for the Gamecocks in the first half. Knecht had 13 points to pace Tennessee, which shot 2 for 11 (18%) from long distance.

The Gamecocks had a 21-19 rebounding edge and limited Tennessee to 36% (12 for 33) shooting to build its lead in the first half.

THE TAKEAWAY

South Carolina: Nine new players on the roster have given the Gamecocks new life after struggling to an 11-21 record a year ago. … Paris has brought the group together quickly and the Gamecocks have responded with a great start to their season.

Tennessee: Vescovi established a program record by making his 130th start. … The Vols had their 13-game home winning streak snapped, 11 of those have come this season.

NEXT UP

South Carolina: The Gamecocks get their shot at revenge when they host Georgia on Saturday. The Bulldogs won by five points on Jan. 16.

Tennessee: The Vols will have another tough game Saturday when they visit No. 10 Kentucky.

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