Bulldogs fall to Gamecocks 83-66
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Despite a strong first-half performance, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team fell to South Carolina Saturday evening before 10,478 spectators at Colonial Life Arena.
Redshirt-senior Braelen Bridges led Georgia (5-14, 0-6 SEC) with 20 points on 8-for-1 shooting, including 4-of-6 from the charity stripe and five rebounds. Redshirt-senior Noah Baumann tallied 14 points and three rebounds, while freshman Christian Wright pitched in with 10 points, including 10-for-12 from the line. For the evening, the Bulldogs shot 39.1 percent from the field.
“We got away from what was working,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “We got away from feeding the post… We stopped playing through the post and high-post, elbow area when they went zone. We gave up some open threes. There were a couple of turnovers and obviously that’s going to happen. When it gets tough is when you have to get tougher. We have to stay true to the fundamentals. We let our fundamentals of getting to our man quick enough, not having two on the ball in the zone, getting our hands extended, we let that cost us.”
The Bulldogs led early in a defensive battle but entered the first media timeout trailing South Carolina (11-7, 2-4 SEC) 7-5. The squads traded baskets before sophomore Jabri Abdur-Rahim gave Georgia the lead with a tough basket in the paint. The Bulldogs extended their lead to eight after a spectacular reverse layup by sophomore Josh Taylor and a pair of free throws by junior Jaxson Etter at the midway mark of the first half.
Georgia continued to attack the paint and earn trips to the charity stripe, amounting to a 12-point lead thanks to a perfect 16-for-16 shooting from the free-throw line with 5:58 remaining in the half. South Carolina chipped into the Bulldog leading, finding themselves down five with under a minute left. Georgia entered the locker room up 42-36. The Bulldogs finished the first half shooting 21-for-22 (95.5 percent) from the free-throw line, the most first-half free throws dating back to the 2013-14 season.
Both teams leaned on their defensive again in the opening minutes of the second period, but a long transition 3-pointer by graduate Dalen Ridgnal gave Georgia a 51-42 lead at the first break of the second half. Ridgnal gave extended the margin to 10 before, back-to-back threes by the Gamecocks cut the Bulldog lead to four. With 8:58 to play, South Carolina took its first lead of the game since the early minutes of the first half. The Gamecock continued to build momentum, bolstering a 22-0 run to extend their lead to 15 with five minutes remaining. USC would go on to win 83-66.
Georgia will return to Athens Tuesday, Jan. 25 to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network.