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ATLANTA – Jarnell Stokes scored 22 points, matching his season high, and Tennessee beat South Carolina 59-44 on Friday in the SEC tournament quarterfinals, adding a strong defensive effort to the Vols' NCAA tournament hopes.
The Vols (21-11) will carry a five-game winning streak into Saturday's semifinal against No. 1 Florida. Tennessee has not trailed in the winning streak and kept its lead over the Gamecocks in double digits for most of the second half.
Tennessee is No. 44 in the NCAA RPI and may have needed at least one SEC tournament win to bolster its NCAA hopes.
South Carolina (14-20) didn't score in the first six minutes, setting the mold for their offensive struggles. No South Carolina player scored in double figures.
Brenton Williams led South Carolina with nine points but made only 3 of 13 shots.