Athens, GA: South Carolina’s school record 12 game winning streak over Georgia ended Saturday night at Stegeman Coliseum amidst a flurry of turnovers, fouls and missed shots in the game’s final 25 minutes. The Gamecocks fell to the Dogs in overtime 81-78 in front of a capacity crowd of over 10,000 fans, their first loss in Athens since 2016.
The Gamecocks led most of the first half, and a rebound-dunk by Hayden Brown at the buzzer gave them a 37-35 lead at the break, their first halftime lead since the win at Kentucky. The Gamecocks shot 44% in the first half, but more impressively they only turned the ball over twice and committed just four fouls.
Things would change in the second half after Georgia turned up their defensive pressure.
The Gamecocks got off to a good second half start and built a 12-point lead at 52-40 with 13:05 to play. The lead was ten with 6:31 left before the Bulldogs ripped off a 10-0 run in a matter of 1:16. The Gamecocks turned the ball over twice and committed three fouls during that stretch. The Bulldogs had a pair of three-point plays, a layup and two free throws to tie the game.
Now tied at 62 with 5;15 left, neither team had more than a three point lead the rest of regulation. Georgia took a 73-71 lead on a pair of free throws with :51 left. The Gamecocks answered with a driving layup by GG Jackson with :30 to play. After Georgia missed a three pointer, Meechie Johnson rebounded and fired a long pass downcourt to an open Zachary Davis. A Georgia defender cut right in front of Davis in the lane, close enough to question whether there was contact, and Davis lost the handle as regulation ended.
The Gamecocks suffered 12 turnovers and were whistled for 12 fouls in the second half, and that trend continued in overtime, along with an inability to make shots. The Gamecocks had four turnovers, five fouls and were 1-11 from the floor and 2-4 from the line in the extra period.
For that matter, Georgia was only 1-4 from the floor in overtime, but the Dogs were 6-8 from the foul line. All of their points in overtime were scored by Kario Oquendo.
Georgia led by four with 2:25 left in overtime when Jackson hit one of two from the line to make it 80-77. The score did not change as the clock ticked inside :40 and the Gamecocks had their chances to tie. Johnson missed a three with :34 left, got his own rebound and found Jackson open. He missed a three with :26 left. Johnson got the long rebound and missed on another three with :21 to play. Josh Gray rebounded and missed inside, and then was tied up for the rebound with USC retaining possession with :18 to play.
After a timeout, the Gamecocks got the ball to Johnson who launched another three that was off. Jackson rebounded and was fouled on the putback. He made the first free throw and missed the second to make it 80-78 with :09 to play. Oquendo was fouled on the rebound and made one of two at the other end for an 81-78 score with :05 left.
The plan for the Gamecocks was a long pass to Gray around the top of the key, and he was to dish to Johnson coming off a screen by Jackson for a three-point attempt. But Gray did not catch it cleanly. He did get the ball to Jackson who was well covered on his three-pointer, and it missed the mark with :02 to play.
The Gamecocks finished with a 43% shooting night but they did hit 13 three-pointers, a season high. They outrebounded Georgia 42-13 including 17 offensive boards they converted into 20 second chance points. But the Gamecocks turned the ball over 18 times, with Georgia accounting for 15 steals, and the Dogs converted those turnovers into 17 points.
USC had five double-figure scorers led by Jackson with 18 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds but he had seven of the team’s turnovers. Hayden Brown had 17 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the second half.
The Gamecocks losing streak now stands at five. They are 8-13 overall and 1-7 in the SEC. They will host Mississippi State on Tuesday night. Georgia broke a three-game losing streak and is 14-7 and 4-4. The Dogs travel to Auburn Wednesday night.