ATHENS, Ga. – The Georgia men’s basketball team lost to South Carolina by a 72-62 score on Saturday afternoon before 10,523 spectators inside a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum.
The Gamecocks (18-3, 7-2 SEC) recorded 25 assists on 29 made field goals to overcome the Bulldogs (14-8, 4-5 SEC). Jabri Abdur-Rahim led all scorers with 20 points, marking the sixth time in his career with a 20-point outing, and a pair of blocks. Blue Cain connected on three-first half 3-pointers and finished with 11 points, while Noah Thomasson scored 10 and contributed four rebounds. As a team, Georgia made eight first-half 3-pointers, marking the second straight game to make at least seven shots beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes and sixth time this season.
The Bulldogs built up an early 23-16 lead after knocking down seven of their first 10 3-pointers in the game’s first eight minutes, eventually building a 10-point lead. The Gamecocks used a 9-0 run after a trio of shots from deep to cut the deficit, keeping it close, 40-38, headed into the locker room at the end of the first 20 minutes. Georgia’s offense began to stall at the start of the second half, making just two field goals in the first seven minutes and allowing South Carolina to take its first lead of the day with 15:19 remaining. South Carolina built up its lead to seven with a stout zone defense, holding the Bulldogs without a field goal for seven and a half minutes. Justin Hill got into the paint and made a bucket to cut the deficit to five with just over four minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs were unable to battle back and overcome the Gamecocks.
Georgia will hit the road and return to action for its game on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 9 p.m. ET at Mississippi State, which will be televised by the SEC Network. The teams have split the all-time series, 57-57, with Georgia taking the most recent meeting, 58-50, last season on Jan. 11, 2023.
Five Fast Facts
• Guard Jabri Abdur-Rahim led all players with 20 points, which was the fourth game this season and the sixth time in his career that he scored at least 20. This was also the fourth SEC game he has reached at least 20 points.
• By going 9-for-9 from the free throw line, Georgia had its first game making all of its free throw attempts since the team’s game against Missouri on Jan. 10, 2018.
• For the second straight game, Georgia made at least seven 3-point shots in the first half, marking the sixth time they have reached that figure in the opening 20 minutes this season.
• South Carolina was held to zero blocks during the game, marking the first time since Georgia’s win against LSU on Feb. 14, 2023, that an opposing team did not earn a block against the Bulldogs.
• Blue Cain led Georgia in bench scoring with 11 points, which is the fifth time he has done so this season and the seventh game the freshman has scored in double-figures.
Senior Guard Jabri Abdur-Rahim: “I think we just got to do a better job of being physical. I think when we went and played them in Columbia, we were really physical with them, and for whatever reason today we just lacked a little physicality. They punched us in the mouth, especially in the paint. That was probably their game plan, and they did a good job of executing it.”
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- The starting lineup was graduates Noah Thomasson and Russel Tchewa, senior Jabri Abdur-Rahim, junior RJ Melendez and freshman Silas Demary Jr.
- This is the second straight game for this starting lineup and the 7th time this starting lineup has been used this season.
- The Bulldogs recorded six blocks, two and a half more than their season average.
- Georgia’s 40 first-half points on the day marks the second-most this season against an SEC opponent.
- The Bulldogs led for 18:10 of the first half.
- Georgia went a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line, doing so for the first time since Jan. 10, 2018 against Missouri.
- For the second straight game, Georgia made at least seven 3-point shots in the first half, marking the sixth time they have done so in the opening 20 minutes this season.
- The Bulldogs held the Gamecocks’ top points producer, Meechie Johnson, to 11 points on the day. He averaged 17.1 points entering the matchup.
- Mike White’s team allowed zero blocked shots for the first time this season while the Gamecocks recorded zero blocks in a game for the first time since playing LSU on Feb. 14, 2023.
- Three Georgia players scored in double-figures.
- Jabri Abdur-Rahim led the Bulldogs with 20 points, recording his fourth game scoring 20+ points this season and the sixth time in his career.
- Russel Tchewa tallied two steals, matching his season high.
- Jabri Abdur-Rahim recorded a new season-high two blocks, matching his career high.
- Blue Cain led Georgia in bench scoring with 11 points, doing so for the fifth time this season and the seventh time he has scored in double-figures.
GEORGIA HEAD COACH MIKE WHITE
On Georgia’s second half struggles
“I wish I knew. I’m not sure I have a great answer right now. Obviously by our body language, by the way we shot the ball down the stretch, our level of confidence, our level of swagger, whatever you want to call it, we didn’t shoot the way we needed to down the stretch. We didn’t lose the game because we didn’t make shots. South Carolina is really good, really good. They’re really connected, tough, physical and sound.”
On issues defending inside the paint…
“I thought that they passed it really well to one another. We probably exerted ourselves a little bit too much with the press and with trapping the post. We were coss-matched at the end of the press at times because we were zone-pressing back to man, we were doing some switching with Mack because he presents problems with his ability to stretch you from three.”
On the team’s long scoring drought in the second half…
“I think that stretch included all zone, I don’t know that without watching the film. That was a big factor. Davis stunting, playing cat-and-mouse with our ball handlers at the top of the key with his length and size, Gray on the interior, Murray-Boyles at the nail and their wings did a good job of preventing us from throwing it to the corners. We tried a couple different things, we had four guards out there with our fives. I don’t know about the first couple possessions, but after that I thought we had some pretty good looks.”
On South Carolina’s productive shooting, what has to change for the Bulldogs..
“A lot. We had four or five silly fouls. Our communication wasn’t great. In our guys’ defense, we hadn’t pressed a ton this season. I’m not sure whether we pressed too much today or not. I’ll have a better answer after I study the film closely. We probably exerted ourselves a little bit too much and so some of our rotations were not there, especially late when we were playing from behind some of their baskets were so easy. I think it was guys just being really fatigued and our level of communication dropped.”
On South Carolina switching from man to zone defense late in the second half…
“They’ve only played a few possessions of zone all year. It was a good move by coach Paris, it was a surprising move. It was a zone they played early in the season. We spent a little more time on it for our game in Columbia. It is a zone that they had success with last year.”
On what needs to change to get the team back on track and ready to play a couple of games on the road…
“We’re going to focus on everything. We’re going to focus on being the best we can be. We will meet on Monday at length. This is three losses in a row and it’s something we haven’t been through yet this season. It will be heavy film and talking on Monday. We’re going to try to talk some things out. We’ve got to figure out what gives us the best chance to win moving forward.”
#1 | JABRI ABDUR-RAHIM | SR. | G
On how South Carolina performed…
“Everyone on the team played well. They’re a really good team. They’re going to go to the tournament. We really respect them, but we just got to do a better job of being better in the second half. I think that was the biggest problem. We came out and didn’t guard them really in either half. They made a lot of timely plays, and had some timely rebounds that hurt us.”
On the difference between this game and the last time Georgia played South Carolina…
“I think we just got to do a better job of being physical. I think when we went there we were really physical with them, and for whatever reason today we just lacked a little physicality. They punched us in the mouth, especially in the paint. That was probably their game plan, and they did a good job of executing it.”
On bouncing back after a few tough losses…
“This is a confident group. We’re resilient, and I think we’ve done a good job of showing out all year in games in different situations like battling illnesses and battling injuries, so I know we’re going to respond well. We just got to get ready to go to Mississippi State, and put this one behind us. This is such a tough league, and if you get in your feelings losses can compound and compound. We got to do a better job of flushing this one and moving on to the next one.”
“#3 | NOAH THOMASSON | Gr. | G
On Georgia’s losing streak…
“It’s very frustrating, but it’s a part of it and a learning opportunity. You never know what can happen next, we can win three in a row, so we just got to keep working hard and get ready for the next game.”
On the team’s recent struggles…
“We are doing a lot of really good things, we just have to clean up some things we aren’t doing really well and I think a lot of these results will be different.”
On facing the zone defense while struggling from 3-point range…
“We just got to step up and knock shots down, that’s all it is. They were good looks, you know it’s shots that I see Jabri, myself, Justin, Blue and Silas hit every single day. That’s what basketball is about, sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t.