Gamecocks outscored by 17 in 2nd half in 73-56 loss to Bulldogs
When the South Carolina and Georgia men’s basketball teams retreated back to their respective locker rooms for halftime during Saturday’s game, the score was tied and the Gamecocks looked to be in prime position to avenge their earlier loss to the Bulldogs.
“I felt good at halftime. Sometimes you go into a tie game at halftime and you feel lucky to be tied, but I felt real good at halftime,” coach Frank Martin said. “I thought we were in a good place.”
But the second half saw the Gamecocks struggle mightily to get a shot to go down, and South Carolina would go on to fall 73-56 behind an abysmal 16.1 percent shooting performance in the second period.
From the game’s start, senior guard Brenton Williams looked like he couldn’t miss from three-point territory. But after going 3-for-3 from distance in the first half, he suffered the same fate as the rest of his team and made just one of his six three-point attempts after halftime.
“In the second half we got every look that we were making most of in the first half,” Williams said. “They weren’t going down, and that’s just something that’s on our part.”
Williams would finish with the second-most points on the team, turning in 16 on the day.
Freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with a team-high 18 points after an uncharacteristically stagnant performance in Wednesday night’s loss to Arkansas, scoring just eight points in that game. Though he registered the most points of any South Carolina player Saturday, Thornwell was not immune to his team’s shooting woes. He shot just 4-15 from the field and went 0-2 from three-point territory.
Michael Carrera was the catalyst for South Carolina in the rebounding department, making up for his slow night offensively with a game-high 12 boards.
A win over Georgia would have meant victories in three of the Gamecocks’ last four games, but the loss sends South Carolina back into a two-game losing streak. And while the team has shown flashes of improvement, Thornwell said losses aren’t getting any easier to swallow.
“We can’t give up. We’ve got to keep playing; we’ve got to keep fighting,” he said. “It’s just frustrating.”
Bulldog forward Nemanja Djurisic gave the Gamecocks headaches in the two teams’ first meeting in Athens, but he registered a pedestrian five points and three rebounds in Saturday’s contest. It was guard Kenny Gaines that stole the show this time around.
The sophomore scored a game-high 27 points and made five three-pointers on the day, but despite the fact that a perimeter player led the way for Georgia, it was the Bulldogs’ post play that sealed the deal.
UGA outscored South Carolina 24-12 in the paint, the result of clear size advantage that the Gamecocks couldn’t manage to overcome.
“You can’t teach height and length,” Thornwell said. “But we’ve still got to play no matter how big they are or anything like that.”
Two other Bulldogs joined Gaines in double-figures, both of them post players, with forwards Marcus Thornton and Brandon Morris each turning in 12 points.
When the Gamecocks first met Georgia one month ago to the day, it was clear from the start that the Bulldogs were going to run away with the contest. After Saturday’s encouraging first half gave way to the second-half implosion, Martin noticed his team’s youth starting to show. And according to the coach, you’re not going to win many games if you hang your head after missed shots.
“We just couldn’t make any shots in the second half,” Martin said. “Then missing all those shots kind of deflated us from the energy that we have to have to be a good defensive team. It was unfortunate.”