On Saturday afternoon, the Georgia Bulldogs played a basketball game. By that, I don’t merely mean the Fox Hounds had a contest on the schedule; I mean the Red and Black actually went out onto the court to face an opponent in their weight class on the road and played an honest-to-goodness game of basketball, ultimately beating the South Carolina Gamecocks, 67-56, in an SEC outing in which both teams came to play instead of relying on the tried-and-true formula of endeavoring to out-ugly one another.
Oh, it was far from perfect; Georgia squandered a would-be halftime lead in the closing minutes of the opening period to head to the locker room down, 30-29, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was held scoreless for a significant stretch to open the second half. The Bulldogs’ leader finished with 19 points---his fewest in an SEC victory this season---and seven boards.
Nevertheless, the Athenians appeared to have more than a passing acquaintance with what they were doing in notching a critical victory in Columbia. Sparked by Kenny Gaines’s nine-point outburst during the decisive stretch, Georgia went on a 17-8 run to open the final 20 minutes while holding South Carolina’s standout showoff, Michael Carrera, to a single skinny point after the break. The visitors shot at an almost 60 per cent clip while holding their hosts to 35 per cent shooting from the field.
Having built up a ten-point lead with four and a half minutes remaining, the Hoop Dogs drained their free throws in the closing minutes to register the victory that made the Red and Black’s recent run of good fortune look like something more than a chimera. Following an 0-3 start in league play, Georgia now stands at .500, returning to the Classic City sporting a three-game SEC winning streak for the first time in modern memory.
As you may have noticed, this postgame recap was much less instantaneous, and much more ill-informed, than usual, for which I apologize. The delay was due to other commitments, but the dearth of detail was due to the fact that, frankly, the Bulldogs didn’t louse it up when it counted. Mark Fox’s team looked like a real basketball team out there today, and, gloriously, that’s really all there is to say.