COLUMBIA, S.C. – This was the game that would either keep changing the story for the Georgia basketball team, or send it careening back in the wrong direction.
It went careening, undone by sloppy offense and helpless perimeter defense. Georgia fell at South Carolina, 66-57, losing control late in the first half and not able to fight back.
Turnovers and 3-point shooting were the keys:
Georgia committed 17 turnovers, South Carolina only five.
South Carolina was 13-for-31 beyond the arc, and Georgia was 6-for-19.
Thus ended a two-game winning streak that had put some juice back into the season for Georgia. Now that’s a distant memory: Georgia (15-12 overall, 6-9 in the SEC) was swept by South Carolina (15-13, 6-9) and UGA will have to win its final three regular-season games just to finish .500 in the league. And its margin for error to be in NCAA tournament contention continues to shrink.
Three who mattered
Yante Maten: Georgia’s best player was once again surrounded whenever he got the ball down low, and once again the result was a frustrating night. He was held to just 13 points, going 5-for-13 from the field.
Turtle Jackson: When Georgia beat Florida and Tennessee last week, it was largely because Maten had scoring help. But on Wednesday only Jackson joined him in double figures, finishing with a team-high 14 points.
Tyree Crump: The sharp-shooting sophomore had a 4-point play in the first half, and a more traditional 3-point play pulled Georgia within 63-57 with 1:45 left. But those were the only two 3s he made, missing his other attempt.
The last five minutes of the first half, when South Carolina finished on a 23-10 run, including a 13-3 run at one point. The Bulldogs were flailing on defense, their zone shredded by 3-pointers, and threw the ball away several times on offense. After being within 19-17 with just over five minutes left, the Bulldogs went into halftime trailing 42-27.
Rallying short. Georgia made it interesting right away in the second half, going on an 11-2 run to make it 44-38. But it stalled there. During one key sequence it had three open 3s on one possession, but missed all three – and then South Carolina hit a 3 on the other end to go back up 11.
Emptying the bench. Georgia used all 12 available scholarship players in the first half. Even Isaac Kante saw action, after only appearing in seven games this season. The only scholarship player on the roster now to play was the suspended Jordan Harris, who remains out indefinitely and was not on the trip.
More ugly play. Georgia committed five travel violations in the first nine minutes of the game.
In the first half, which proved decisive, Georgia was 8-for-24 from the field with 10 turnovers.
Georgia hosts LSU on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia won 61-60 at LSU on Jan. 16.