Gamecocks edge Dawgs 57-56, ending UGA win streak

Freshman Kentavious-Caldwell Pope had another chance to ice a game for the Georgia Bulldogs (12-13; 3-8) tonight, attempting a three-pointer from the wing with just 6 seconds remaining in the game and his team trailing by a point.  Unlike in the Mississippi State game though, this shot caromed off of the front of the rim and the South Carolina was able to walk away with a 57-56 victory.

To be fair to KCP, he did knock down a really big three with 2:43 left in the game that tied things up at 53-apiece.

Georgia didn’t lose the game tonight because of Pope’s missed shot.  Rather, the Dawgs were extremely careless with the ball in the second half which allowed the Cocks to hang around and eventually take the lead.

The Bulldogs, who came into the game averaging a league-low 9.3 turnovers per game in SEC play, gave the ball back to Carolina 7 times in the final 10 minutes of the second half.

Prior to this horrific run of careless basketball Georgia had built up a 46-39 lead at the 9:11 mark, which was aided by a pair of Sherrard Brantley threes and a couple free throws from KCP.  However, 3 turnovers and 4 misses later the game was tied with only 4:58 left.

The other point in the game where I thought UGA failed to capitalize and pull away from USC was in the first half, when the Dawgs had bolstered their lead to 16-9 following a three-pointer from senior Dustin Ware.  Ware’s three capped off a 12-2 Georgia run, and it looked as if they might be able to open up a sizeable advantage heading into the break.

Instead, Carolina responded with a 9-2 run of their own, tying the game at 18-18 with less than five minutes to play in the half.

The performances of the UGA bigs hurt the team nearly as badly as the late-game turnovers.  South Carolina showed Georgia a gimmicky trap zone for most of the night, forcing the Bulldog guards to pass, limiting their roles in the offense.  The Georgia big men had a plethora of nice looks at the basket, but they were unable to take advantage of many of them.  Marcus Thornton, Donte Williams, Neme Djurisic and John Florveus shot a combined 8 for 27 from the floor, or  just under 30%, which is a totally unacceptable shooting percentage for a group of post players (typically coaches like these guys to make around 45%+ of their attempts considering they are usually from very close in).

Neither team had much offense tonight with Carolina making 38.8% of their attempts to UGA’s 35.1%.

USC senior Malik Cooke led all scorers with 13 points, while Georgia was led by senior Gerald Robinson, Jr., who finished with a team-high 11 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

In his post-game interview, Coach Mark Fox sounded pretty disappointed in his team.  Fox kept lamenting the fact that the UGA players appeared tired all day (during shoot-around, etc), and that their fatigue carried over into the game and the way that they played.   He chastised his team for playing weak-mindedly and for not protecting the ball.

I can’t say that I can disagree with many of his complaints.