Dawgs lose 2nd straight game at home, falling to South Carolina

UGA played arguably its worst first half of the season tonight against South Carolina, and yet the Dawgs had a chance to win this game late in the second half.

After trailing 41-23 at the break, Georgia tied the game at 51 apiece with 4:31 left in the game after a pair of free throws from Yante Maten.

Georgia failed to secure defensive rebounds down the stretch though, and in the end, these lapses ended up doing them in. Mindaugus Kacinas tipped in a missed jumper to give his team a 53-51 lead with only 3:38 remaining.  On the ensuing possession, UGA held the Cocks from scoring on another jump shot, but Kacinas was there once again for the offensive board, which he promptly kicked to teammate Tyrone Johnson.  Johnson immediately buried a three-pointer, giving Carolina a 56-51 advantage.

The Gamecocks secured offensive rebounds on 2 of their next 3 possessions, which led to 3 free throws and eventually a 64-58 road victory.

For Carolina, this win marks just its third SEC road win in nearly three and a half seasons.

Georgia failed to lead once in this contest, and they quickly found themselves down 19-4 less than 10 minutes into the game.  The Dawgs shot just 33% from the floor before the break, and their defense was nonexistent.  In the first half, UGA yielded 7 three-pointers to the Cocks, enabling them to go into the intermission with 41 points – an incredible offensive outburst for a team that entered tonight’s game averaging just 58 points per SEC contest.

Georgia was led offensively by Charles Mann, whose 17 points were instrumental in helping the Dawgs mount a comeback.  However, Mann didn’t get much support as Kenny Gaines was the only other UGA player to finish in double-digits with 11 points.

After laying an egg at home against Auburn last Saturday, I expected the Dawgs to come out with a little more fire than they showed this evening.  Georgia started this game incredibly flat, digging themselves into a huge hole that they ultimately couldn’t escape from.

Coach Mark Fox has to be wondering what kind of damage his team has done to its NCAA tournament resume – something that looked rock solid a week ago.  The Dawgs are now 16-9 overall and 7-6 in SEC play, but they are falling fast in the conference’s standings.

Meanwhile, South Carolina has four SEC wins this season and two of them have come against UGA.

Blemishes now abound on Georgia’s schedule, with losses to SC (2), Auburn, Georgia Tech and Minnesota.  For Coach Fox, it might be time to start hitting the panic button as his team appears to be spiraling downwards, losing 4 of its past 6 games.

Marcus Thornton, who carried this team during the first half of this season, is averaging just 7.5 points a night since returning from his injury, failing to finish in double-figures in any of the last four games.

The Dawgs hit the road Saturday, traveling to Tuscaloosa where they will take on Alabama, a team that is currently 5-7 in league play.  With an RPI of 76, Bama does not offer UGA the opportunity for a quality win; however, a loss to the Tide could certainly be looked upon as another bad loss.

Depleted Dawgs hope to hold off South Carolina

J.J. Frazier took a whack to the noggin in the second half against Auburn last Saturday, and apparently he will miss tonight’s game against South Carolina as he deals with concussion symptoms and what Coach Fox called a “fracture to his orbital bone in his face”.

The problem for Georgia is that Frazier has been their second-leading scorer in conference games at 11.5 points per contest, knocking down nearly 2 three-pointers a game.

Now the Dawgs, who are still without two-guard Juwan Parker – though Fox hinted last weekend that he could be back soon – will be forced to play the Gamecocks with an ultra-thin backcourt.

With the loss of Frazier, UGA only has one regular contributor – Charles Mann – who can bring the ball up the court.

Enter Brandon Young, a 5’10” sophomore point guard who played his high school ball at the Marist School in Atlanta.  To say this guy has played sparely for Coach Fox would be quite the understatement, considering Young has seen the floor for a grand total of 16 minutes in his two seasons in Athens (with only 4 minutes of play this year).

However, without Frazier’s ball-handling services, Young will likely see action tonight as a Kenny Gaines-Taylor Echols backcourt may have trouble dealing with pressure.

Georgia lost the first meeting between these two teams back in January, falling to the Gamecocks 67-50 in Columbia.  Senior Marcus Thornton didn’t make the trip for that contest as he was dealing with concussion symptoms, and it seems that the Dawgs will be playing Carolina short-handed once again.

After Georgia’s devastating home loss to Auburn last Saturday, UGA can ill-afford another bad loss on its NCAA Tournament resume.  With an RPI of 105, South Carolina definitely fits the bill as a “bad loss”, and the Dawgs already have one “bad loss” to Frank Martin’s team this season.

Should they drop another one to the Cocks, UGA’s NCAA dreams may begin to vanish.