With Sindarius Thornwell out over the last month, P.J. Dozier stepped up and carried the Carolina offense. It was more of the same from the sophomore tonight as he and the returning Thornwell led South Carolina to a 67-61 win at Georgia.
The first half was tight. The biggest lead in the first twenty minutes was only four points.. There was total of 13 lead changes at the break. In his return, Thornwell struggled with his shot but the offense ran smoother as opposed to the last six games. Thornwell ended the half with six points and a game-high six rebounds. Dozier continued his hot streak with 14 at the break. A three pointer at the buzzer by sophomore gave the Gamecocks a two point lead to take into the second half. Chris Silva was the teams second leading scorer at the break with eight points.
Georgia made their living at the foul line during the first half. The Bulldogs shot 11-14 from the line in the first half. Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier continued to carry the team as both had nine at the break. Georgia owned the glass in the first half, out rebounding Carolina 21-15. The Bulldogs were sloppy with the ball and Carolina made them pay by scoring 11 points off of turnovers in the first half.
Carolina started the second half well. Jumping out to a 48-39 lead, Carolina held Maten and Frazier scoreless for the first seven minutes of the half. The only thing the Gamecocks failed to do in the first ten minutes of the second half was quit fouling. Georgia entered the bonus at the 12 minute mark as Maik Kotsar committed his fourth foul. Chris Silva was already on the bench with his third personal. Georgia failed to make a field goal for over a six minute span in in the middle of the half. Though they were struggling, Carolina failed to pull away as the Bulldogs picked up points from foul line. A 10-3 run by Georgia pulled the Bulldogs within a bucket at the 8:30 mark.
Georgia was on another field goal drought heading into the final five minutes. The Bulldogs went over five minutes without a basket until a lay-up cut the Carolina lead to three with two minutes remaining. Thornwell scored after a Hassani Gravett offensive rebound to put the Gamecocks up 62-56 at the 1:44 mark. Georgia came right back as Frazier hit two free throws before a defensive stop allowed Maten to drain a three to cut the lead to one with :57 seconds left.
It was all Gamecocks in the final minute. Thornwell grabbed his own miss to put Carolina back up three. The senior then forced a turnover on Georgia’s next possesion. Gravett and Dozier combined to go 3-4 from the foul line to give the Gamecocks a 67-61 road win.
Dozier finished with 24 points to lead the Gamecocks. Thornwell scored 13 in the second half, giving him 19 on the night. The Senior played a game-high 35 minutes and had 11 rebounds to record a double-double in his return. Chris Silva also had a nice night with 13 points on 6-7 shooting.
The Gamecocks defense dealt with Frazier and Maten well. The Georgia duo struggled shooting, going 7-22 from the floor. Maten finished with 18 and Frazier with 16 points. Both scored nine from the foul line. Carolina turned 16 Bulldog turnovers into 18 points while racking up eight blocks and seven steals. Georgia won the battle at the glass 40-34 but the two teams both gathered 11 offensive rebounds. With multiple shooting droughts, Georgia was able to stay in the game at the foul line, shooting 23-30 while the Gamecocks were only 10-17.
Next up for the Gamecocks is the conference home opener. Texas A&M comes to Columbia on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. tip.