It might be time for another Georgia basketball players-only team meeting.
The Bulldogs (9-6, 2-6 SEC) suffered an 83-59 loss at South Carolina (4-5, 2-3) on Wednesday night in Columbia.
Gamecocks coach Frank Martin changed up his defense, packing his defenders into the lane and clogging gaps, challenging Georgia’s perimeter game.
It proved a good gamble, as the Bulldogs made just 4 of 26 shots (15.4 percent) from beyond the 3-point line.
”I would say they did that because of a lack of respect for our shooting,” UGA coach Tom Crean said. “They didn’t come up and get us at all. But at the end of the day, we missed open shots.”
Freshman K.D. Johnson led the Bulldogs with 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Sahvir Wheeler had 9 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists and Andrew Garcia had 10 points and 5 assists.
Jermaine Couisnard led South Carolina with 18 points.
The last time UGA suffered a loss like this, a 95-77 setback to Auburn on Jan. 13, the players held a meeting to discuss their accountability to one another.
The next meeting might be about practicing shooting. UGA entered the game ranked 233rd in the nation shooting the 3-point ball, hitting 32 percent.
That number will go down, as two of Georgia’s top transfers had off-nights shooting. Virginia Tech transfer P.J. Horne was 0-for-7 from 3-point range against South Carolina, and George Mason transfer Justin Kier was 0-4 beyond the arc.
“P.J, and Justin having 0-for nights from three that hurts us, because we need those guys to make shots,” Crean said. “But we did not keep our commitment to guarding the ball or transition defense as we were missing those shots.”
Georgia trailed 36-26 at the half, just 1-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc the first 20 minutes
The Bulldogs had raced out to a 14-8 lead before the Gamecocks started working their way back into the action, using their defense to force 12 first-half turnovers.
A Toumani Camara dunk at the 6:39 mark gave UGA its final lead of the game at 19-18 before the Gamecocks went on a 14-0 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes.
Camara was plagued with foul trouble all night, picking up three fouls in the first half, and getting his fourth with more than 15 minutes left in the game.
“When Toumani Camara is in foul trouble, we’re not very good,” Crean said, aware every team knows one key to beating Georgia is to get their quality big man in foul trouble. “It’s hard to win when he’s only playing 19 minutes. He can provide a lot of things for us.”
Georgia plays host to Ole Miss at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs beat the Rebels 78-74 on Jan. 16 in Oxford, Miss.