Georgia beat Gamecocks to March On


The third time was the charm for the Georgia Bulldogs as they knocked off the South Carolina Gamecocks 74-62 Friday in the quarterfinal round of SEC tournament.  After two losses to Gamecocks earlier this season, Georgia took care of business when it meant the most.  The Dawgs advance to the semifinal round of the tourney for the second straight year under Mark Fox.

The Bulldogs started out the game by hitting their first four shots from the floor.  The Gamecocks did not let Georgia blow the game too far open.  The Dawgs utilized good defense and to hold South Carolina to zero field goals for five minutes in the latter part of the first half, during which time the Dawgs went on an 11-2 run.

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Unlike the earlier meetings between the two teams Georgia was able to assert itself offensively as the Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the field.  The Georgia big men overwhelmed the Gamecocks by outscoring them 18-6 in the paint.

That effort was led by forward Marcus Thornton’s eight points, while freshman forward Yante Maten also contributed seven points off the bench during the opening session.

The second half saw its ups and downs for the Bulldogs.  Georgia started off strong and stretched their lead to as many 11 points in the early part of the period.  Then the Bulldogs went cold and had a stretch where they missed six straight shots while the Gamecocks went on a 13-2 run.

South Carolina took the lead briefly but the Bulldogs were able to regain control of a game that saw seven ties.  The Bulldogs were out front for almost 30 minutes of the contest.

The Bulldogs overcame two major injury scares as for a brief moment both guards Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann went to the bench with injuries.  Fortunately for the Bulldogs, both young men were able to return to the ball game and were significant contributors to the Dawg effort.

Mark Fox’s team kept up the defensive pressure on the Gamecocks forcing them to a 37 percent shooting performance for the evening.  Georgia protected the rim very well  totaling six blocked shots for the evening.

The Bulldogs were able to force the action, getting to the free throw line 29 times compared to South Carolina’s 20, which allowed Dawgs to hit eight more free throws than their opponent.

The Bulldogs had four players score in double figures, led by the senior Thornton’s 15 points and eight rebounds.  The Dawgs also got a big effort from Maten, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds coming up big for the team after Thornton fouled out with 3:53 seconds left in the game.

South Carolina was led in scoring by guard Duane Notice, who had 20 points in a losing effort.  Sidarius Thornwell and Liamonas Chatkevicius had 10 points each for the Gamecocks.

Next up for Georgia is a 3 p.m. semifinal contest against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday.  Hopefully the Dawgs keep this positive momentum going.

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