South Carolina’s best player, Chris Silva, went to the bench with 4 fouls with 11:14 remaining and his team up 52-42. If a Georgia (15-2, 6-9) run was going to occur, this was the time for it. Without Silva on the court, Frank Martin shifted his team into a zone that absolutely confounded the Dawgs. Georgia couldn’t get the ball into the paint; rather, they settled to pass it around the perimeter and take shots from beyond the arc. Silva returned to the game nearly 9 minutes later at the 2:47 mark with his team still up 61-52. For UGA, it was an opportunity lost. South Carolina won 66-57, completing the season sweep.
That makes 4 straight losses for Mark Fox at the hands of Frank Martin. And just to clarify, this is a bad South Carolina team. The Gamecocks are now 15-13 overall and 6-9 in the SEC. They might have beaten Auburn last weekend, but they lost 6 straight before pulling off that miracle.
The aforementioned stagnant offense is just the icing on the cake in a game in which Georgia looked a combination of mystified and disinterested for much of the the night. Maybe all the pressure from showing up in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology in the “Next Four Out” category got to the Dawgs? How else can you explain how a team commits nearly as many turnovers (17) as they did field goals (21)?
Georgia’s guard play, which has been detrimental to this team all season, really let the team down this evening in Columbia. The Dawgs were utterly careless with the ball, and when the Gamecocks switched into a trap press, UGA’s backcourt went into full-on panic mode. I honestly do not understand why teams haven’t pressed Georgia more this year as ineffective as the Dawgs have been at handling that pressure. South Carolina ended up getting 18 of their 66 points off of UGA turnovers.
But as a UGA fan, I’m used to Georgia struggling to put the ball in the bucket. I mean, this was the 5th time this season the Dawgs have failed to eclipse 60 points in a game.
However, the lack of execution on the defensive end was rather surprising. UGA’s defensive rotations out of its zone were abysmal. South Carolina constantly had guys open all around the perimeter. The Gamecocks entered this game making just 6 three-pointers a contest in SEC games, yet they buried 13 triples against the Dawgs tonight. That is simply inexcusable.
Even when the Cocks failed to convert a basket, they still found themselves getting loads of extra scoring opportunities because Georgia couldn’t defensive rebound. Considering that Frank Martin’s team hauled down 18 offensive rebounds against the Dawgs in Athens in the first meeting between these two teams, one would think that this would have been a point of emphasis this week in preparation for this game. Yet, the Gamecocks came away with 16 more offensive rebounds by the time it was all said and done, and they ended up with 18 second chance points. In a game that had to be considered “must-win” for a Georgia team that is fighting to stay relevant in the NCAA Tournament discussion, the Dawgs lacked in effort, the one area of their game that should be present every night considering the dearth of outside shooters and dribble-drivers on this team.
In all honesty, this just wasn’t a very fun game to watch if you were a Georgia fan. The Dawgs allowed the Gamecocks to go on an 11-3 run in the final stretch of the first half that gave SC a 42-27 advantage at the break. In the second half, UGA got to within 6 points a couple of times, but then Carolina would get a putback off of a miss, or Georgia would fail to go over the top on a screen and Wesley Meyers would hit an open three (he hit 5 of them on the night).
The Dawgs have LSU on Saturday in Athens, and they desperately need a win as Georgia is now just a game away from being the SEC’s bottom team.