ATHENS — On Saturday afternoon, Georgia dropped to 2-3 in SEC play and 11-5 overall, losing to 64-57 to South Carolina. It was the second loss of the week for the Bulldogs, who lost to Missouri on Wednesday night.
South Carolina get off to a hot start, going on a 7-0 run in the game’s opening minutes. While the Gamecocks had success on offense in the first half, the Bulldogs struggled with fouls, committing seven before the 10-minute mark in the first half.
Yante Maten kept the game within striking distance for Georgia. During a three-minute span in the first half, Maten recorded eight points down low. By the eight-minute mark, South Carolina only led by one, at 21-20 thanks to Maten’s play.
But a few turnovers and missed shots from Georgia opened the door back up for South Carolina to establish a 37-29 lead going into halftime.
Georgia started strong in the second half to pull within one, 39-38. For the next four minutes, Georgia kept within one, staying just behind South Carolina until Gamecocks guard Hassani Gravett nailed a 3-point shot for a 49-43 lead with less than eight minutes to play.
Georgia fought back again and tied it at 49, but a 3-pointer from South Carolina guard Frank Booker on the very next possession re-established the Gamecocks’ lead.
Three who mattered
Booker: The South Carolina guard didn’t see much playing time until late in the first half, but he made up for the time that he wasn’t on the court when he was in. Booker immediately entered the game with an offensive putback before being fouled by Georgia’s Tyree Crump behind the 3-point line. Booker made all three free throws and on the next possession hit a jumper to stretch the Gamecocks’ lead to 28-20. In the second half, Booker continued to be the difference-maker, finishing with 17 points.
Maten: The senior forward, again, established Georgia’s offense throughout the game. While he struggled to get many any opportunities at the top of the key, Maten made his presence known in the paint. Maten led Georgia with 25 points and eight rebounds.
Juwan Parker: While Parker didn’t start, he entered the game relatively quickly and made a difference in keeping Georgia in the game. Twice during the game, Parker went up for a shot and made it as a South Carolina defender slammed into him. Parker, in turn, made all of his free throws on both occasions. Parker finished with 11 points.
With less than five minutes remaining in the game and after trailing throughout the entire afternoon, Georgia finally tied the game up at 49 with Maten scoring down low in the paint. South Carolina, however, silenced the Stegeman Coliseum crowd as Frank stepped back behind the arch and took back the Gamecocks’ lead at 52-49. It was just the spark South Carolina needed to hold off Georgia.
Hammonds struggles: Georgia didn’t get any offensive production from freshman Rayshaun Hammonds, who played 36 minutes but failed to score. Hammonds, who averages 8 points per game, was 0-for-4 from the field and had two of Georgia’s 13 turnovers.
In attendance: Georgia football head coach and SEC coach of the year Kirby Smart was in attendance at Saturday’s game. Many fans at Stegeman Coliseum rose to their feet as Smart’s son frantically tried to get his dad’s attention on the video board. Once he did, father and son waved to the excited Stegeman crowd.
Georgia travels to LSU on at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
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