When Frank Martin reviews the box score of South Carolina’s 77-75 win over Georgia today, he’ll have many areas of concern to highlight this week during practice. In the end, it will count as a victory nonetheless.
Georgia had an upset in mind as they were tied 51-51 with the Gamecocks with 10:33 left, but their shooting went ice cold as they went a stretch of nearly eight and a half minutes in the second half without a field goal despite several trips to the line. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s lead stretched to nine on a big three pointer by Justin McKie to make it 69-60 with 2:21 left. Carolina couldn’t quite close the door late: the Bulldogs looked to bounce back as they pulled within two with eight seconds remaining as poor free throw shooting down the stretch hurt the Gamecocks, but a pair of makes by McKie helped them hold Georgia at arm’s length.
This one probably would have been a little more comfortable if the Gamecocks had made their free throws as they went just 14-25 from the charity stripe. They did commit just eight turnovers to Georgia’s 15, but were out-rebounded 36-28 (27-16 on the defensive glass). But their 8-0 run midway through the second half, coupled with the Dawgs’ drought, were key in avoiding an upset on their home floor.
I mentioned in the preview that Sindarius Thornwell needed help from other players if this Gamecocks team was to make a run in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. They delivered as PJ Dozier dropped in a game-high 21 to go along with Thornwell’s 18 (which included three first-half threes). Duane Notice had another strong game with 15 points on 5-8 shooting from the floor (4-7 from three), and after a 17-point performance at LSU, we’ll see if he can carry that on down the stretch. Rakym Felder showed well off the bench with seven points in eight minutes, while Maik Kotsar, despite fouling out with seven points in 22 minutes, had a pair of important free throws late in the game to hold the Dawgs back.
The Gamecocks host Alabama on Tuesday as they wrap up a two-game homestand. Tip for that one is set for 6:30pm on the SEC Network.