Georgia basketball had the blueprint for success early at South Carolina, but the Bulldogs could not stay the course.
The Gamecocks (11-7, 2-4 SEC) rallied for an 83-66 home victory over the Bulldogs (5-14, 0-6) at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday.
Coach Tom Crean’s team sprinted out to a 31-19 lead at the 7:02 mark of the first half, and appeared to be on its way to snapping a losing streak to South Carolina that dates back into the Mark Fox era (2016) and now looms at 11.
Noah Baumann’s 3-pointer had given the Bulldogs that 12-point edge, while giving the USC transfer 14 points early in the game.
No one could have guessed Baumann — whose 14 led the team — wouldn’t score again, and his 3-point marksmanship was missed.
Georgia, however, maintained a 42-36 lead into intermission, hitting 21 of 22 free-throw attempts through the first 20 minutes.
It was a different South Carolina team in the second half, however, with Frank Martin turning up the tempo and the Gamecocks’ defending cleaner.
The Bulldogs helped their cause, as Crean would explain.
“We got away from what was working,” Crean said. “We got away from feeding the post… We stopped playing through the post and high-post, elbow area when they went zone.”
The Bulldogs were up 10 points as late as the 13:21 mark, 56-46, before South Carolina rallied, reclaiming the lead for good at 61-60 with 8:58 left before pulling away.
Georgia returns to action at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday against Alabama at Stegeman Coliseum.