Tennessee basketball vs. South Carolina: Score prediction, scouting report

Tennessee basketball vs. South Carolina: Score prediction, scouting report

Tennessee basketball is down to three regular-season games.

No. 13 Tennessee (20-8, 9-6 SEC) hosts South Carolina (10-18, 3-12) on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, SEC Network). It hosts Arkansas on Tuesday and plays at Auburn in the regular-season finale.

Here is what to know about Saturday’s matchup:

HEALTH: Rick Barnes updates Tennessee basketball injuries pre-South Carolina

Santiago Vescovi turning it on for Tennessee

Santiago Vescovi has scored in double digits in seven of UT’s past eight games and has made at least three 3-pointers in five straight games. The senior guard had been on a tear in the past two games, scoring 31 points since halftime at Kentucky.

“Santi is a guy that does makes those adjustments game-to-game in terms of whatever the personality of the game is without they’re guarding him, things like that,” Vols coach Rick Barnes said. “Santi can go from a guy that absolutely teams just don’t give him a look at all. Sometimes, I think when he gets a wide-open look, he’s somewhat surprised but he knows how to adjust and do what he needs to do to affect the game one way or another.”

Vescovi had 17 second-half points at Kentucky, then had a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double at Texas A&M. He also had a season-high seven assists.

Vescovi had made at least four 3-pointers in three of UT’s past five games. He is averaging 12.6 points per game.

Rick Barnes on Josiah-Jordan James, Julian Phillips

Rick Barnes thinks Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips will play for Tennessee against South Carolina. James and Phillips have been battling injuries since mid-February. James has missed four straight games with a sprained left ankle. Phillips has missed three with a hip flexor strain.

“How much (they play), we don’t know,” Barnes said. “I think that will be a game-time decision. They both were in practice with us (Thursday). They’ll be back out there.”

Both practiced Thursday and Friday. James has missed 12 games this season due to injury. He is averaging 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds. Phillips has missed three straight games. He is averaging 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds.

How Tennessee beat South Carolina in January

Tennessee played one of its best games of the season in its 85-42 win at South Carolina on Jan. 7.

Olivier Nkamhoua had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for Tennessee, which shot 51.5% and shot 45.5% on 3-pointers to top South Carolina. UT held the Gamecocks to 25% shooting and 4-for-26 shooting on 3-pointers.

The Vols shut down Gamecocks freshman GG Jackson to the list of opposing stars. The five-star forward was scoreless on eight field-goal attempts and missed four 3-pointers. He played 22 minutes and had four turnovers

Score prediction

Tennessee 73, South Carolina 51: Tennessee has its best bet for a regular-season win in its final three games with South Carolina in town. The Vols get back on track heading into the final week.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.