After building up a commanding 28-9 halftime lead against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs were outscored 47-32 after intermission. The Hoop Hounds had to hold on to win a 60-56 nailbiter.
Although Georgia pulled down 28 defensive rebounds to South Carolina’s 15 offensive boards, the Red and Black handed their hosts 19 points on 17 Bulldog turnovers, and the Classic City Canines’ reserves were outscored 29-14 by the Palmetto State Poultry’s bench. The Gamecocks very nearly were able to overcome the lowest-scoring half in an SEC outing in their history by hitting 16 of 21 free throws (76.2%) in an effort to make up for their tepid 18 of 59 (30.5%) shooting from the field. Georgia was 23 of 50 (46.0%) from two-point range, five of 12 (41.7%) from beyond the arc, and nine of 15 (60.0%) from the charity stripe. Trey Thompkins led the way for the visitors with 16 points, nine rebounds, and a pair each of assists, blocks, and steals.
The best the Bulldogs can say of this game is that it was a road win in conference play. What ought to have been a rout was turned into a tight ballgame by a sloppy second half in which the Red and Black sometimes appeared unable even to inbound the ball without incident. Georgia led the game by more than 20 points after intermission, yet the Athenians barely escaped the Palmetto State with a victory. Against literally any other team in the Eastern Division, this would have been a loss.
The Fox Hounds’ margin for error for making the NCAA Tournament did not get any smaller in Columbia, but the result was far from encouraging. The Bulldogs’ tourney resume still contains no losses to teams ranked outside the RPI top 40, but, yet again, that statement has remained true only by the slimmest of margins. Unless Georgia plays better down the stretch, that statement will not remain true much longer.