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Olivier Nkamhoua leads overwhelming attack for No. 18 Tennessee vs. South Carolina Upstate

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Dec 14, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Santiago Vescovi (25) drives around USC Upstate Spartans guard Jordan Gainey (11) during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Santiago Vescovi (25) drives around USC Upstate Spartans guard Jordan Gainey (11) during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Olivier Nkamhoua scored 13 of his 21 points in the first half as No. 18 Tennessee opened a 27-point lead and cruised to a 96-52 rout of South Carolina Upstate in a nonconference game Tuesday night in Knoxville, Tenn.

Kennedy Chandler had 15 points and 10 assists and John Fulkerson scored 12 points for the Volunteers (8-2), who led by as many as 48 points in the second half. Nkamhoua also grabbed eight rebounds.

Nick Alves scored 15 points for South Carolina Upstate (2-8), which has lost five consecutive games. He was the only scorer in double figures for the visitors.

Twelve players saw action and 10 of them scored in the first half alone for Tennessee against the outclassed Spartans, but it didn’t matter as the lead continued to grow. Tennessee scored the first 13 points of the game and was never threatened as it tuned up for a game against Memphis in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday.

For the game, 15 players saw time and each of them scored for the Vols as Tennessee coach Rick Barnes emptied his bench in the second half.

The Vols also did an excellent job of sharing the ball in the first half, with 15 assists on 21 baskets. Chandler and Santiago Vescovi each had four assists in the first half. The Vols finished with 29 assists on 38 field goals.

The tone was set from the opening tip. Chandler wound up with the ball and scored four seconds into the game for a 2-0 lead. After a missed shot by USC Upstate’s Bryson Mozone, Chandler assisted on Nkamhoua’s dunk 37 seconds later.

The Volunteers’ lead grew to 13-0 on Josiah-Jordan James’ three-pointer with 16:44 left before Mozone finally got the Spartans on the board with a trey. Jordan Gainey’s jumper cut the deficit to 13-5 with 15:42 left but that marked the last time South Carolina Upstate’s deficit would be in single digits all night.

Tennessee steadily pulled away, leading 51-24 at the half and shooting 53.8% from the floor, while limiting the Spartans to 8-for-24 (33.3%) from the field.

–Field Level Media