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Gamecocks keep Bulldogs at bay for 86-80 win

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South Carolina’s back in the win column.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

After suffering a humbling defeat to the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, the South Carolina Gamecocks got just the bounceback win they needed with an 86-80 victory over rival Georgia on Saturday afternoon.

South Carolina never trailed in the road win, leading wire-to-wire behind strong performances from veteran Chris Silva and freshman A.J. Lawson, who both scored 19 points. The Gamecocks enjoyed a robust offensive showing with 57 percent shooting from the field, at one point leading 22-8 in the first half as their defense stifled the Bulldogs. While South Carolina took just a 45-40 lead into the locker room at halftime, it had led by as many as 15 points and looked to be almost in cruise control.

The second half was a bit more adventurous, as Georgia quickly sliced into the lead and trailed by just two, but the Bulldogs could get no closer. The Gamecocks kept pouring it on, aided by Felipe Haase’s three straight 3-pointers, and the odds of a Georgia comeback quickly diminished. The Bulldogs didn’t give up, though, and it wasn’t until Hassani Gravett’s trey with just a few minutes to play that the Gamecocks got some breathing room.

South Carolina finished the game with a sterling 69 percent effort from 3-point land, and also hit 56 percent of its free throws. Although the Gamecocks were out-rebounded by the Bulldogs 39-30, they had 16 assists to Georgia’s nine.

Keyshawn Bryant (11 points) and Gravett (13) joined Silva and Lawson in double figures for South Carolina.

The Gamecocks notched their fifth straight victory over the Bulldogs, which is the most in the series since the 1950s. No matter the sport or the occasion, it’s always a good day when the Cocks come away with a win against UGA.

South Carolina (11-10, 6-2 SEC) next travels to No. 7 Kentucky on Tuesday. Man, and I thought they said the SEC was an easy basketball conference...