The USC basketball team picked up a hard fought, and much needed SEC win over Georgia Wednesday night at Colonia Life Arena. Malik Cooke hit a floater with 20 seconds left to give USC a 57-56 lead and their second SEC victory of the season.
Interesting subplot here, Cooke played for Georgia coach Mark Fox at Nevada before transferring to USC when Fox bolted for the Bulldogs job.
AUDIO: Damontre Harris, Brenton Williams & Malik Cooke press conference
Now, back to the game. You have to give the Gamecocks credit, they earned this one. They rallied from seven down in the first half to take a two point lead at the half. Georgia pulled back ahead in the second half, building a five point lead with less than ten minutes to play. Again, the Gamecocks put together a run to pull back ahead by two with just under a minute to play. Gerald Robinson hit a three to put them up a point and the Dawgs were a stop away from adding to the Gamecocks season long SEC struggles before Cooke’s big shot put Carolina back on top for good.
After Cooke’s shot the Georgia still had a couple of chances to win the game. On the next possession Robinson missed a layup and the Bulldogs immediately fouled with 13 seconds left. That sent Bruce Ellington to the line for a one on one, and he missed the front end. It was the first and only free throw the Gamecocks missed in the game, snapping a streak of 14 consecutive from the charity stripe. Fortunately for USC it didn’t cost them.
With 13 seconds left Georgia took the rebound from Ellinton’s missed free throw and fired an off target three. That was followed by a scrum for the loose ball that ended in a jump ball as the buzzer sounded. Officials reviewed the play and determined .2 seconds were left on the clock, giving Georgia one last crack at a tip in off the inbounds. The nearly impossible play, proved to be just that as the ball was safely deflected on the inbounds sealing the win for USC.
AUDIO: Darrin Horn press conference
AUDIO: Mark Fox press conference
The Gamecocks struggled with the shooting, going 38 percent from the floor and they made only five of the 20 three pointers they attempted. However, they only turned the ball over nine times and made the aforementioned 14 of 15 from the free throw line, which was enough to overcome the cold shooting.
Cooke led the scoring with 13 points. Brenton Williams came off the bench to score 10. Anthony Gill and Damontre Harris each had nine and Bruce Ellington added seven. With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 10-15 and 2-9 in the SEC. Georgia falls to 12-13 and 3-8 in the league.
USC plays host to LSU Saturday at 1:30.