South Carolina coach Frank Martin said the dominant start against Georgia was a carryover from a 75-54 home victory over Texas A&M on Saturday.
“Obviously the way we started the game defensively was kind of piggybacking the way we played the last game defensively,” Martin said.
Of the Gamecocks’ seven conference wins, five have come by double figures. Their only SEC wins by fewer than 10 points were against Kentucky and Arkansas.
“We’ve played good ball for a while,” Martin said, adding his team took consecutive road wins at Clemson and Virginia in late December.
One game after the Bulldogs topped 100 points in a 105-102 overtime loss to Alabama, they suffered their lowest scoring first half of the season. South Carolina led 38-20 at halftime, thanks to the Bulldogs’ turnovers and poor shooting.
The 59 points matched Georgia’s low for the season in lopsided losses to Mississippi State and Arizona State.
Rayshaun Hammonds finally gave Georgia its first field goal with 12:50 remaining in the half. The Bulldogs then suffered another seven-minute field-goal drought before Tye Fagan’s basket with 5:40 remaining in the half.
South Carolina stretched its lead to 23 points, 49-26, on a three-point play by Couisnard early in the second half.
Georgia built some offensive momentum midway through the half. Donnell Gresham’s four-point play cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 55-41. Couisnard answered with a quick 3-pointer and South Carolina pushed the lead back over 20 points.
THE BIG PICTURE
South Carolina: The Gamecocks, who had four players score in double figures, were dominant in almost every category when winning their second straight game since losing starting F Justin Minaya to a left thumb injury. South Carolina outrebounded Georgia 45-33, including nine by Alanzo Frink, and outscored the Bulldogs 40-22 in points in the paint.
Georgia: Coach Tom Crean identified his team’s poor on-ball defense as a glaring weakness following the high-scoring loss to Alabama. This loss to the Gamecocks showed there are other glaring deficiencies, including on offense where 19 turnovers were a near-constant problem. South Carolina took a lopsided 25-4 advantage in points off turnovers. The Bulldogs’ previous low for first-half points was 24 against both Texas A&M and Auburn.
Edwards, the nation’s top-scoring freshman with his average of 19.7 points per game, missed each of his seven 3-pointers. Edwards wasn’t the only Georgia player to struggle with outside shots. Georgia made only 3 of 24 3s.
LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOTBALL
Former Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman gave Georgia fans a rare reason to cheer when he was introduced during a timeout and recognized for his role on the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl championship team. Georgia officials again appealed to football fans when coach Kirby Smart’s six signees who enrolled in school early were introduced during another break.
South Carolina returns home to play Tennessee on Saturday night.
Georgia will try for its second win over Texas A&M this month when it visits the Aggies on Saturday.
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