Vols set to face South Carolina in SEC tournament quarterfinals

ATLANTA, Ga. (release) -- Despite not playing a game Thursday, the Tennessee basketball team had an eventful day in Atlanta.

By virtue of the Volunteers having earned a top-four seed in this week’s SEC Tournament, the Big Orange don’t see their first action at the Georgia Dome until Friday’s quarterfinal round.

After South Carolina defeated Auburn Wednesday evening and Arkansas Thursday afternoon – both upsets, according to seeding – 13th-seeded Gamecocks now face Tennessee Friday at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU, and fourth-seeded Tennessee will wear its new adidas “Made in March” home whites.

Third-year Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin said Thursday that having a veteran team bodes well during tournament time. Tennessee starts three seniors and two junior.

“I think it helps,” Martin said. “You still have to be able to execute and play well. We’ve played well – really well – the last three games. We just need to stay consistent with that.”

The Vols won the lone regular-season meeting with South Carolina Feb. 8 in Knoxville, posting a 72-53 triumph. Tennessee is 2-2 against the Gamecocks in SEC Tournament play, with the most recent meeting resulting in an 89-87 Big Orange victory at the Georgia Dome on March 14, 2008.

“South Carolina has been shooting the ball well,” Martin said. “They’re a talented young team. Sindarius Thornwell is a 6-5 freshman guard who’s a really good player for them. But they play well together as a team.”

Tennessee began its first full day in Atlanta with an 8 a.m. shootaround at the Georgia Dome. The one-hour session was UT’s first and only opportunity to get a feel for the floor, rims and venue backdrop before Friday’s game.

Immediately after shootaround, senior Jeronne Maymon and Jordan McRae and junior Jarnell Stokes donned their orange game uniforms for a video shoot with the ESPN family of networks. That footage will air during the telecasts of Tennessee’s SEC Tournament games (primarily coming in and out of commercial breaks).

The Vols then had a few hours of downtime before getting their ankles taped and departing for Forbes Arena at Division II Morehouse College, where they conducted a lengthier, more thorough practice.

Thursday evening consisted of a team dinner and scouting session, during which the coaching staff laid out the gameplan for Friday’s showdown with the Gamecocks.

The winner of Friday’s Tennessee-South Carolina game advances to face the winner of the Florida-Missouri game in semifinal action Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (ABC).

For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter and Instagram.

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