Kentavious Caldwell-Pope took care of the first half, Kenny Gaines handled the second and the Georgia Bulldogs (10-11; 4-4) cruised out of Columbia with a 67-56 SEC road victory – their second of the season. In fact, today’s win over the Gamecocks marks the first three-game conference win streak for the Dawgs since February of 2004.
After exchanging the lead 13 times in the first 20 minutes, South Carolina took a 30-29 advantage to the locker room at the break. Pope carried Georgia through the first half, scoring 16 of his game-high 19 points prior to the intermission.
KCP was limited in the second half, however, mustering only 3 points. His three was rather timely though, putting the Dawgs up 59-49 with 4:35 remaining in the game.
Georgia played like a bunch of veterans in the Colonial Life Center on Saturday, fending off the Cocks on multiple occasions in the final 20 minutes. Carolina erased an 8-point UGA lead after Bruce Ellington finished a three-point play with 10:51 left, cutting the Georgia advantage to just 46-44. The Dawgs responded instantly with a Donte Williams jumper and then a three from Vincent Williams, expanding the UGA lead to 51-44.
Carolina would close the gap once again though, trimming the Georgia margin to just 4 points with under seven minutes to play. Georgia answered the Cocks’ run though with three-pointers from Sherrard Brantley as well as the aforementioned three from KCP that gave the Dawgs a 10-point advantage with a little over 4 minutes remaining.
Not to sound like a broken record, but I cannot stress how impressive and mature Georgia’s second half performance was this afternoon. The Dawgs played sloppily before the break, turning the ball over 9 times. Georgia cleaned things up after the half, giving it away only 4 times in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Coach Mark Fox got great offensive production from his bench today with Kenny Gaines and John Cannon chipping in 11 and 8 points apiece.
Freshman Charles Mann, who went down with a shoulder injury late in the first half, played rock-solid for the Dawgs, netting 11 points to go along with 6 assists and 3 rebounds.
Georgia was red-hot from the floor in Columbia, making almost 59% of their field goal attempts and over 46% of their three’s. The Dawgs’ 67 points ties the team’s best SEC offensive outburst of the season, matching the 67 that they put up against LSU back in January.
South Carolina had three players finish in double-digits – Michael Carrera (16), Bruce Ellington (14), Brian Richardson (12) – but for the most part the Gamecocks struggled to score, hitting under 36% from the floor.
The win over Carolina puts Georgia at 6th place in the conference (for the moment) with a 4-4 record. This young UGA team is learning to close-out games, and they appear to be improving each week.
With 4 wins in the past 5 games, Georgia may be one of the hotter teams in the SEC.