Tennessee Volunteers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Pick & Prediction JANUARY 30th 2024

Dalton Knecht takes aim at his sixth straight outing of 25 or more points when No. 5 Tennessee faces rising South Carolina on Tuesday night in Southeastern Conference play at Knoxville, Tenn.

Knecht has been a transfer portal steal from Northern Colorado and is on an impressive roll that includes performances of 39, 36 and 32 points. He is averaging 32 points during the five-game stretch.

Knecht scored 32 points on 13-of-21 shooting during Saturday’s 75-62 road victory over Vanderbilt. The victory was the fourth straight and 11th in 12 games for the Volunteers (15-4, 5-1 SEC).

“I just got hot, and my teammates kept feeding me the ball,” said Knecht, who is shooting 54.9 percent from the field during the stretch.

Knecht leads Tennessee in scoring at 19.5 points per game and 3-point baskets with 39.

His route to an SEC program was very much atypical.

Knecht played two seasons at Northeastern (Colo.) Junior College, and then transferred to Northern Colorado of the Big Sky. He averaged 8.9 points in the 2021-22 season before leading the Big Sky with a 20.2 scoring average last season.

Once in the portal, Knecht narrowed his choices to Oregon and Tennessee before choosing the Vols.

It didn’t take long for Tennessee coach Rick Barnes to learn he had landed an impact transfer.

“Dalton loves to play. He loves the game,” Barnes said. “The time he puts in, it’s rewarding to him. But again, I think he’d be the first to tell you that when his teammates are out there, they make it easier for him.”

Overall, Knecht has four 30-point outings, the most in a season by a Tennessee player since Chris Lofton had six in 2006-07.

Knecht and the Volunteers look to remain hot against South Carolina (17-3, 5-2), a team exceeding all expectations and this week fell just shy of entering the national rankings for the first time since the school’s 2016-17 Final Four season.

The Gamecocks have won three straight games and 10 of their past 12. They posted an impressive 79-62 home takedown of No. 6 Kentucky on Tuesday and followed up with Saturday’s 72-64 road victory over Missouri.

“Some of these guys have probably never been on a team that’s ranked before,” South Carolina coach Lamont Paris said. “I think it’s significant. We are trying to grow and develop a program. I think that is part of it.”

The Gamecocks are 14-0 when scoring 70 or more points and are holding opponents to 64.5 points per game.

Meechie Johnson leads South Carolina with a 15.7 scoring average. B.J. Mack (13.9) and Ta’Lon Cooper (10.0) also average in double digits. Mack (5.4) leads the club in rebounding.

Mack scored 21 points in the victory over Missouri. It was his fourth effort of at least 20 points.

Heading into the showdown in Knoxville, the chatter about the Gamecocks is much different than the banter prior to the season or during the first few weeks. The change in perception is why Paris would like to see the team recognized in the top 25 poll.

“Particularly, when the world has been told to discount this team,” Paris said. “We were waiting on somebody to tell us if South Carolina is good or not. In November, they told the world that we are not good. People formed their opinion on that. People that were never in one of our practices, they formed their opinion on influencers, basically.”

Tennessee has won the past five meetings and 10 of the last 11.

–Field Level Media

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