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March 12, 2016

Final Stats | USATSI Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif



Points: Sindarius Thornwell (23)

Rebounds: Laimonas Chatkevicius (9)

Assists: Marcus Stroman (3)

Steals: Mindaugas Kacinas (3)

Blocks: Chris Silva (3)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The South Carolina men’s basketball team (24-8) dropped its SEC tournament quarterfinal meeting with Georgia (19-12) in heartbreaking fashion Friday night, losing 65-64 in the final seconds of regulation. Sindarius Thornwell led the team with 23 points.

The early pace of play was very much in line with the recent history of the rivalry, with physical defense found on both ends of the floor. The Gamecocks took the lead from the jump, but both offenses suffered from turnover issues in the opening 10 minutes and scored just 15 points between them in that span.

The offense picked up down the stretch, first from South Carolina. The Gamecocks made 6-of-8 field goals over a stretch of five minutes to extend their lead as high as 11, 29-18, with four minutes to play in the period. Sindarius Thornwell led the way with 13 first-half points, but it would again be a group effort for South Carolina in the absence of Michael Carrera. Seven players would score at least a point in the first half.

Georgia made a run to close out the opening period, taking advantage of a four-minute scoreless drought from the Gamecocks after taking the 29-18 lead. Six free throws in the closing minutes made up the bulk of what ended up as an 8-0 run to send the game into halftime with Carolina ahead 29-26.

The opening 20 minutes were a defensive aficionado’s delight, with the two teams forcing 21 combined turnovers and shooting just 18-of-58 from the field. The Gamecocks picked off six steals in the half, but only converted Georgia’s 10 turnovers into six points.

South Carolina came out of the locker room aiming to break its scoring slump and did just that, scoring the first five points of the second half to force Georgia to burn an early timeout. The offenses for both teams would look inwards, scoring the first — points of the second half on two-pointers.

Georgia would not make its first 3 of the half until 10:43 remained, but it was an important one. JJ Frazier’s make pushed the Bulldogs up to a 9-0 run that cut South Carolina’s lead down to 45-43. The lead would extend out to 13-2 and Georgia tied the game up at 47-all before Thornwell sank a clutch 3 to put the team back up with nine minutes to play.

His basket would help the Gamecocks hold the Bulldogs at an arm’s length over the next five minutes, but similar to how the game played out in the regular season finale, the Bulldogs would never go away and remained within three, 59-56, with four minutes left to play.

Behind an 8-0 run over a two-minute span, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the night at 60-59 with three minutes remaining, but again it would be Thornwell who broke their spell with a layup to answer. The two would trade leads all the way down to the final two minutes, when a Duane Notice free throw tied it up at 62 with 1:54 to play. Two more free throws from Marcus Stroman gave Carolina the lead, but Georgia responded with a basket with 20 seconds to go.

Carolina held for the last shot, but Thornwell was stripped with under 10 seconds to play and fouled Frazier. He would sink the first to clinch the win.


The Gamecocks could run, but they weren’t able to hide Friday night. The Bulldogs erased double-digit leads from South Carolina on three different occasions — one to end the first half, and two in the second half. The final run, an 8-0 spurt, turned a 59-52 Gamecock lead into Georgia’s first lead of the night, 60-59, with three minutes to play.


With nearly identical stats across the board between the two teams, the big difference would come at the free throw line. Georgia attempted 27 shots from the charity stripe, compared to 15 for the Gamecocks. Despite the Gamecocks entering the night ranked fifth nationally in free throw attempts, Georgia took as many free throws in the second half (15) as South Carolina had for all 40 minutes.


The Gamecocks will await their postseason fate now, and My Carolina Alumni Association will host the team for an NCAA Tournament Championship Selection Show watch party on Sunday (March 13) evening at the USC Alumni Center in downtown Columbia. The NCAA Tournament bracket will be unveiled in a two-hour show on CBS, which begins at 5:30 p.m. ET.


  • Laimonas Chatkevicius had a solid night for the team, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds over 24 minutes of action. It was the most rebounds he has had in a game since Jan. 19 against Ole Miss.
  • Georgia finished at 39 percent from the floor in the game, marking the 19th time this season South Carolina held the opposition to under 40 percent in a game.
  • Sindarius Thornwell now has six 20-point games this season, tied for the team lead. Four have come in the last 10 games.
  • The team was without senior Michael Carrera for the second-straight game. He remains day-to-day with a hip injury.