It's time to party, Gamecocks fans! Well, maybe that's a bit too much ebullience; this was, after all, hardly a clash of the titans. Nevertheless, this has been a tough season for the Court 'Cocks, and tonight's dramatic, 57-56 win over the Georgia Bulldogs was a breath of fresh air for a suffocating program. Malik Cooke led Carolina in scoring with 13, but Damontre Harris was the star, with a Muldrow-esque nine points, five blocks, and eight rebounds. Gerald Robinson led the Dawgs in scoring. Another stat that has to be mentioned is that Carolina went 14-15 from the line to Georgia's 10-14. Needless to say, that was huge.
There are a few things to note in this game. First of all, I continue to be impressed with Harris's strong play. Harris came to Columbia a very raw but athletic player. We saw glimpses of potential last year, but all in all, he simply lacked the strength and offensive game to be a consistent contributor. A bit bigger and with a diversified game, he's become that contributor this season, and on nights like tonight, you have to wonder what he'll be next year, when he's had another year to develop. He not only produced tonight; he was, more importantly, thoroughly clutch, with several key defensive plays at the end of the game. I really think this guy can be an All-SEC-type center with a little more work.
Another player that needs to be recognized is Brenton Williams. The only thing I didn't like about Williams tonight is that Darrin Horn didn't give him enough minutes, but I will give Horn a lot of credit for finding this kid, who has certainly played much better than I expected. He was 4-7 from the field and 2-4 from downtown tonight, and he did a decent job handling the ball in an oftentimes mistake-filled game. I'd really like to see him get a start in one of the upcoming games. He just seems to be a much more solid player than Damien Leonard right now.
The downside to this game is that it was essentially Alabama all over again. What I mean by that is that it was, needless to say, a very ugly game, and I don't feel confident that we can win games where our opponents play decent ball. The 'Cocks played very good defense throughout, but UGA wasn't exactly shooting the ball well. The Dawgs committed many self-inflicted wounds. Nevertheless, Carolina never quite managed to pull ahead, with the two teams trading leads more or less the entire contest. A better team would have won this one going away. I'm simply not confident that this game means we've found a winning formula. We just managed to sneak one out.
That said, hope springs eternal after a much-needed win, so hopefully Carolina can build on this. It will get another decent chance this weekend when it hosts LSU. The Tigers will provide a tough test, but this should be a winnable game if Carolina keeps working hard.