GAME NOTES: Still trying for their first SEC victory of the season, the South Carolina Gamecocks will take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
South Carolina was sitting at a solid 7-6 overall prior to its league schedule, where it has fallen flat with four straight losses. The Gamecocks most recently dropped a heartbreaking 75-74 decision at home to Ole Miss on Saturday and now head back out on the road, where they've gone 0-5.
Georgia, meanwhile, has enjoyed its conference slate of games, with its 66-61 overtime triumph versus Arkansas on Saturday giving it a 3-1 SEC mark. While the Bulldogs are just 1-6 in road and neutral-court contests, they have pieced together a 9-7 overall record by thriving in Athens, winning eight of nine at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs have won six of the last seven matchups with the Gamecocks and hold a 52-48 advantage in the all-time series.
The Gamecocks lost control of a back-and-forth battle with Ole Miss late in the second half on their most recent game, and while they climbed back within one late, Sindarius Thornwell's last-second 3-pointer was off the mark. They shot a mere 36.7 percent from the field on the afternoon, including just 6- of-21 from 3-point range, and were hindered by a game-high 21 turnovers. Thornwell was the only player in double figures, tallying a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Brenton Williams was 0-of-10 from the field but made 9-of-9 at the line.
Despite South Carolina's disappointing overall record this season, it is still able to score more points (70.3 ppg) than it allows (69.5 ppg), shooting 43.1 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from beyond the arc and 68.8 percent from the charity stripe. Thornwell has risen to the top of the scoring pack with 12.0 ppg, although he shoots under 40 percent from the field and has more turnovers (38) than assists (31). Tyrone Johnson's (11.2 ppg) and Williams' (11.1 ppg) production are also volume based, with neither shooting greater than 40 percent from the field.
After a sluggish regulation ended in a 52-52 tie, the Bulldogs grabbed hold of a lead 12 seconds into overtime their last time out and never relinquished that advantage. It was a dreadful field goal shooting afternoon, making just 31 percent of their tries from the floor, but Arkansas was nearly as bad (.318) and they earned a 28-12 scoring advantage at the foul line over the Hogs. Kenny Gaines finished with a game-high 15 points, while Marcus Thornton logged a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, despite shooting just 3- of-11.
On the season, Georgia outshoots its opponents from the field, 44.9 percent to 40 percent, but it only boasts a +1.4 scoring margin because of its disappointing efforts from 3-point range (4.1 makes per game at a 31.9 percent clip) and the free-throw line (.657) as well as its -2.4 turnover margin. Charles Mann (13.3 ppg) leads the team is scoring mostly due to his 115 free- throw attempts, although he's only made 66.1 percent of those. Gaines (11.9 ppg), Nemanja Djurisic (9.8 ppg) and Brandon Morris (8.7 ppg) are all solid complementary options.
While neither team has wowed statistically, Georgia has found a way to win, especially at home, while South Carolina has floundered. Expect the Bulldogs to take care of business in Athens.
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