COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) – The No. 25/23 South Carolina men’s basketball team was unable to overcome first-half offensive woes and lost at Georgia Tuesday night, 69-56. The Bulldogs (12-7, 5-4 SEC) held off numerous second-half rallies from the Gamecocks (19-3, 6-3) and had four players reach double figures in scoring. Sindarius Thornwell and Michael Carrera finished with double-doubles for Carolina.
It was a slow start to the night for the visiting Gamecocks on the offensive end. The team started 0-of-5 from the field and sat at just 3-of-20 through the first 16 minutes of action. Thankfully for Carolina, the Bulldogs would not take full advantage and led just 23-16 when the Gamecocks broke a five-minute field goal drought with three straight makes to take it into the final three minutes of the half. A pair of baskets from Georgia’s Yante Maten pushed the lead up to double digits heading into halftime, 33-23.
The Gamecocks shot just 6-of-28 (21.4 percent) in the first half. Sindarius Thornwell led the team with nine points and five rebounds, Michael Carrera pitched in eight points, four rebounds and three blocks. Georgia had a pair of scorers reach double figures in the period, with Maten and Kenny Gaines sharing the half’s scoring lead at 10 points apiece.
Georgia’s lead grew to 13 after a 3-pointer from J.J. Frazier opened the second half, but the Gamecocks weathered the storm and cut it back to a two-possession game thanks to an 8-0 run. In the span of just three possessions, Duane Notice and Thornwell hit 3s and Carrera added a jumper to cut it to 39-34 with 15:55 still to go in the game.
While the Gamecocks were able to pare down the big lead, it would be unable to string together enough stops to get over the hump. The team came all the way back to two, 50-48, with six minutes left, but Georgia responded with two quick baskets. Three minutes later, Frazier hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead back up to seven. He would provide the dagger in the waning minutes, taking a pass off an offensive rebound and hitting another 3 to push the Bulldog lead to 62-53, its largest margin since 17:11 in the period.
After starting the second half hitting 9-of-16 field goals, the Gamecock offense cooled down at an inopportune time. The team made just one field goal in the final four minutes of the game, allowing Georgia to push back into a double-digit lead before the final horn.
The Gamecocks were able to make it a one-possession game (three points or less) on four different occasions in the second half. On the possessions immediately following, Carolina was 0-of-3 from the field and had a turnover. Conversely, Georgia scored the very next time down the court three of those four times.
The Gamecocks were outrebounded for just the fourth time this season, allowing Georgia to enjoy a 43-38 margin for the night. For the season, Carolina is 18-0 when it wins the rebounding battle but 1-3 when losing it.
South Carolina continues its road swing at No. 8/8 Texas A&M on Saturday. The Aggies won last season’s meeting between the two schools, 62-52 in Columbia. Saturday’s contest is just the fifth all-time between the two schools and the third in College Station. Game time for the matchup is set for 4 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Mike Morgan (play-by- play) and Chris Spatola (analyst) will have the call.
• Carolina had two players with double-doubles for the first time since Jan. 16, 2013, at LSU (Michael Carrera and Lakeem Jackson). Carrera now has three straight games with a double-double, six for the season. Thornwell now has two this season, five for his career.
• Sindarius Thornwell matched his career high with 11 rebounds. He has reached mark three times in his career, with the last coming at Mississippi State on March 8, 2014.
• Carolina has lost six of the last seven meetings at Stegeman Coliseum, dating back to 2010.
• The team’s 31.6 percent success rate on field goals is tied for the lowest of the season. This is just the second time through 22 games that the team