The South Carolina Gamecocks bounced back from a two-game losing streak with a gutsy win they absolutely had to have, holding off the rival Georgia Bulldogs 94-90 in overtime on Wednesday in Columbia.
Senior big man Maik Kotsar, who has carried this team for much of the season, was once again there to make a clutch play late, stepping in front of Georgia’s Sahvir Wheeler to draw a charge when the Gamecocks were desperately trying to run out the clock on a two-point lead. When Keyshawn Bryant was fouled on the subsequent inbounds, his made free throws provided the final margin, and South Carolina could breathe again.
While the Gamecocks’ bigs absolutely feasted with 54 points in the paint, sophomore forward Alanzo Frink was the standout, leading South Carolina with a career-high 22 points and was simply unstoppable for much of the game.
Five other Gamecocks reached double figures: Kotsar (22), Bryant (16), Jermaine Couisnard (13), and A.J. Lawson (10) rounded out the scoring effort from the starting lineup, while Jalyn McCreary scored 10 big points off the bench in his first extended action since suffering a head injury.
USC was woeful from distance, making just three of its 16 3-point attempts, and for a moment it looked like the Gamecocks’ stubborn insistence on trying to make that outside game happen might bury them against UGA. Thankfully, Kotsar and company had other plans, and despite its usually shaky performance from the line, South Carolina was able to make free throws when it needed them most.
The Gamecocks picked up their eighth straight win over Georgia, and their fourth straight against the Dawgs (14-14, 4-11) in Columbia despite future NBA Draft lottery pick Anthony Edwards exploding for a game-high 36 points.
South Carolina (17-11, 9-6 SEC) is currently listed in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology as one of the “Next Four Out” bubble teams, tenaciously clinging to faint NCAA Tournament hopes (and, one would assume, a fairly safe bet for the NIT, should the Dance not materialize). It’s pretty incredible that the Gamecocks are still in this conversation after the way their season started (although yes, I still want those Boston and Stetson games back, dammit).
Up next is a trip to Alabama (15-13, 7-8) on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in what will be another must-win scenario for the Garnet and Black. In the meantime, just put this vicious Bryant dunk on repeat.