Bulldogs rally to top Gamecocks, 81-78, in overtime
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Bulldogs rally to top Gamecocks, 81-78, in overtime

Georgia-South Carolina
Photo: Olivia Wilson/UGA

ATHENS – Eight overtime points from Kario Oquendo boosted the University of Georgia basketball team past South Carolina, 81-78, Saturday night before a sold-out crowd at Stegeman Coliseum.

Mardrez McBride led the Bulldogs’ scoring effort with a season-high 17 points. Frank Anselem posted a career-high 12 points, while Oquendo tallied 15. Terry Roberts dished out nine assists, and Jusaun Holt grabbed a team-leading six boards.

“A huge conference win for us,” Georgia head coach Mike White said. “I thought our crowd was incredible, a huge factor for us, allowing us to get some stops, helping us get some stops defensively in the full court and half court. We played really hard, got to continue to improve of course. South Carolina getting 13 threes was pretty significant to have to overcome. I thought we had some guys that haven’t at times played really big roles for us in my opinion, but were a big a factor in this one than anyone else. Namely, Frank Anselem, Jusaun Holt and I though Mardrez McBride played his best game as a Bulldog. Those guys were terrific, the crowd was terrific, great college game, South Carolina was terrific, and we had a chance to send it into overtime, we are very fortunate.”

South Carolina (8-13, 1-7 SEC) quickly took the lead and kept Georgia (14-7, 4-4 SEC) at a distance in the early going until a tip-in layup from Jabri Abdur-Rahim gave the Bulldogs a 13-12 lead off a 5-0 scoring run. Both teams traded points before the Gamecocks built a nine-point lead, 29-20, off a pair of 3-pointers.

Led by Abdur-Rahim, the Bulldogs attacked the paint and used a 7-0 run to get within two points with under three minutes remaining in the half. Back-to-back McBride triples knotted the score at 35 with 30 seconds remaining in the half, but the Gamecocks answered back with a dunk to close the first half and take a two-point lead into the locker room.

After tying the game early in the second half, sharp outside shooting from Carolina helped it build the lead back to eight. Back-to-back dunks and a layup from Roberts fueled an 8-3 run for the Bulldogs, but they continued to trail, 58-48, with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

A strong defensive effort from Georgia forced two Gamecock turnovers and allowed McBride to make a five-point play and close the gap to two points. Two free throw makes from Holt wrapped up a 10-0 run that tied the game at 62 with five minutes left.

A layup from Holt and Anselem edged Georgia ahead, 70-69, with two minutes remaining. Tied at 71, Holt was sent to the free throw line and gave the Bulldogs a 73-71 advantage. South Carolina answered with a layup and nearly stole the win on a final-second steal, but a lost ball sent the game to overtime.

Six uncontested points from Oquendo built a four-point lead, 80-76, with two minutes remaining in overtime. The Gamecocks added two free throws to put them within two with five seconds remaining, but a final three fell short to close the game.

Georgia returns to the road this Wednesday, Feb. 1 to face Auburn at 7 p.m. on SEC Network. Earlier this season, the Bulldogs upset the No. 22 Tigers, 76-64, at Stegeman Coliseum.

POST-GAME NOTES

• Series History – Today’s game marked the 121st meeting between the Bulldogs and Gamecocks – South Carolina leads South Carolina 62-59. With the win, Coach White moves to 18-2 all-time in Stegeman Coliseum.

• Double Digit Dawgs – Four Bulldogs notched double-digits points on the evening, tying the season high for double-digit scorers. Terry Roberts posted his 14th consecutive double-digit performances of the season and 18th total (42nd career), while Kario Oquendo tallied his 12th (36th career). Mardrez McBride posted his fourth (34th career) and Frank Anselem logged his second (second career).

• Magic McBride – McBride totaled a career high 17 points on the evening on a season-high 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.

• Birthday Boy – On his 23rd birthday, Oquendo recorded 16 points, 5 rebounds and a steal, including all seven of the Bulldogs’ points in overtime to help to seal the win over the Gamecocks.

• Frank the Tank – Anselem went 6-of-9 from the field to record a career-high 12 points.

• Comeback Kings – The Bulldogs trailed by as many as 12 points in tonight’s contest before storming back to earn their fourth SEC win of the season.

• Free Basketball – Tonight marked the first time the Bulldogs have played an overtime game since Jan. 6, 2021 against LSU.

• Battle Tested – Georgia is 3-2 on the season in games decided by five or less points – last season, they were 1-5.

• Opponent File – The Gamecocks held the lead for over 33 minutes on the evening, as well as out rebounded the Bulldogs, 42-31.

POST-GAME QUOTES

GEORGIA HEAD COACH MIKE WHITE

Opening Statement
”A huge conference win for us. I thought our crowd was incredible, a huge factor for us, allowing us to get some stops, helping us get some stops defensively in the full court and half court. We played really hard, got to continue to improve of course. South Carolina getting 13 threes was pretty significant to have to overcome. I thought we had some guys that haven’t at times played really big roles for us in my opinion, but were a big a factor in this one than anyone else. Namely, Frank Anselem, Jusaun Holt and I though Mardrez McBride played his best game as a Bulldog. Those guys were terrific, the crowd was terrific, great college game, South Carolina was terrific, and we had a chance to send it into overtime, we are very fortunate.”

On pulling through at the end…
“I look forward to watching the film. We always talk about let’s try to get a stop, try to get a shot, we got plenty of time here to get a couple stops and scores, this place will get loud, and it did and that was it. I thought Kario (Oquendo) offensively putting pressure on the rim, down the stretch, getting to the line, struggled from the line a little bit, but really stepped up with his level of poise or swagger, or both. He stepped up the confidence and converted at the end where it counted most.”

On the press tonight…
“It was huge. I just told the radio that I thought a couple of the biggest factors in the game were not only the guys I mentioned individually, but the press and the crowd and I thought they worked hand in hand. When we got in press and it got really loud, it helps you with your press or your half court defense, which resulted in pressure in the half court. When South Carolina was trying to run their offense it was really really loud, and it’s a little bit harder to communicate. You experience that on the road in this league consistently, and this was a tough environment to play in if you’re the opposition. I’m very thankful to our fans that made it out, and hopefully we can continue to do that and continue to improve there. I thought our pressure in the full court was definitely a factor lead by Jusaun Holt at the point of it. Another factor was down the stretch, it seemed like we pressed for 15 minutes, we made pretty good decisions. I thought we played really really hard and we didn’t foul. Our foul discipline was pretty strong as well.”

On the motivation to break the losing streak to South Carolina…
“Yeah, we did but I’m not big into that type of stuff. I thought it might give our guys a little bit of added motivation. We talked about it at shoot around, I guess it was 12 straight. You know, it’s pretty cool for our fans I guess. We talked about the fact we have the chance to end a significant streak. It was a big win for us.”

GEORGIA GUARD JUSAUN HOLT

On his rebounding in the second half…
“I just played hard. Whatever comes to me, comes to me. I let the game come to me. My main focus is playing hard and playing defense.”

On Kario Oquendo’s eight points in overtime…
“It was really big. We expect him to make those big plays the way he did.”

On full-court pressing…
“It was definitely key. We got a lot of stops, and I feel like we stepped them up and made them make turnovers and all types of stuff. That really changed our game, for sure.”

On the team’s message to each while trailing…
“Just keep going. We felt like we weren’t playing how we were supposed to, so we were going to turn it around, keep on going and grinding until the clock runs out.”

GEORGIA GUARD MARDREZ MCBRIDE

On his performance tonight…
“Our guys believe in each other. We keep each other motivated no matter what happens. So, I knew I had to stay ready, and whenever the shots come, take those.”

On the second-half comeback…
“It feels good. We have done that [trailed in the second half] in the last three games, and we weren’t able to pull it out in the end. But to come out on top, it means that we learning and growing as we face adversity as a team.”

On tonight’s win after the previous three SEC games…
“It was really big. Losing can be contagious, but winning can also be contagious. It feels good to get back in the win column and hopefully keep going.”

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