The South Carolina Gamecocks handed Georgia their third straight loss as they throttled the Bulldogs 75-59 on Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Gamecocks drew first blood off a Maik Kostar basket, and gave Georgia trouble early as they lead 8-2 at the first media timeout. Coming out of the break, USC continued to cause trouble as Georgia turned the ball over five times in the first six minutes. At the 11:46 mark, USC led 16-4 as the Bulldogs were shooting 11.1 percent from the field (1-of-9).
USC’s A.J. Lawson was trouble in the first ten minutes as he led the Gamecocks with six points. With just under six minutes to go, the Gamecocks led 27-5, until Tye Fagan broke a nearly four-minute scoreless streak as he hit back-to-back baskets cutting the lead to 19. Georgia still trailed 38-20 at halftime.
Georgia’s 20 points in the first half tonight was the second-lowest total scored in the Tom Crean era, thus far. The lowest came last season on Senior Night as the Bulldogs scored 14 against Missouri in the opening period.
Despite a poor first-half performance, the Bulldogs showed some fight in the final five minutes but were still shooting 24 percent (6-of-24) from the field. Freshman Anthony Edwards and senior Jordan Harris were tied with six points apiece to lead the team.
Georgia had 11 turnovers in the first half and the Gamecocks capitalized scoring 16 points off those mistakes. The Bulldogs also shot zero percent (0-of-11) in the first half as USC wasn’t much better shooting 30 percent (3-of-10).
“In the first half when one person would drive, everyone would rotate,” said Edwards. “Nobody could hit three’s today as they were really physical, and they just stayed inside the paint. We couldn’t penetrate down low at all. They played really good defense all night tonight.”
USC started out the second half an 11-5 run before Edwards and fellow freshman Rodney Howard traded baskets, but Georgia still trailed by 19 at that point. The Bulldogs continued to chip away at the lead, but a trio of free throws and a 3-pointer from Lawson pushed that lead back to 19 with 11:42 left.
Graduate transfer Donnell Gresham Jr. broke Georgia’s silence from the three-point line hitting a basket with 11:10 left in the game. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 16 with 11:10 to go on another Gresham basket, but USC’s Mike Couisnard hit a three, followed by a jumper from Kostar.
The Gamecocks continued to dominate in the final ten minutes as A.J. Lawson led them in scoring with 20. Couisnard followed with 14, Keyshawn Bryant with 12, and Kostar with 11.
Georgia was led by Edwards with 16, two rebounds and one assist. Jordan Harris was Georgia’s only other player in double-digits as he finished with 10.
“South Carolina played like their identity tonight,” said Harris. “They were extremely physical and we did not match up well against them inside tonight.”
The Bulldogs were out-rebounded 45-33 as the Gamecocks’ Alanzo Frink grabbed nine of them.
“We were not ready to be in this fight tonight. It didn’t show in practice this week, but they just dominated us tonight,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “I know we didn’t match up tonight with them in terms of size, but that isn’t an excuse to not have fight tonight.”
The loss moves Georgia to 12-12 on the year and 2-9 in SEC play.
Georgia tied their season-low of 59 as they scored that many on two other occasions. First, on Dec. 14 against Arizona State in Tempe, and last month at Miss State in Starkville.
The Bulldogs will be on the road Saturday as they head to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies.