Gamecocks Open SEC Play With 67-61 Road Win At Georgia
Jan. 4, 2017
ATHENS, Ga. – South Carolina (11-3, 1-0 SEC) kicked off SEC play with a 67-61 road win at Georgia (9-5, 1-1 SEC) on Wednesday night. Sophomore PJ Dozier led all scorers with 24 points. Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell filled up the stat sheet for his eighth career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams exchanged buckets in the early goings with the score all knotted up 7-7 with 15:46 left at the first media timeout of the game. Carolina’s offense and defense were in sync early, as nine of the team’s first 11 points came off Bulldog turnovers.
A Hassani Gravett 3-pointer with 11:38 left put the Gamecocks up 16-14. Mike Edwards was able to answer for Georgia, as the score was again tied, this time at 16 all, as the teams headed to the benches for the under 12 media timeout with 10:15 left.
Back-to-back hoops by sophomore Chris Silva put Carolina up by four, 24-20, marking the Gamecocks’ biggest lead of the first half with 7:10 remaining on the clock. The Bulldogs clawed back to take the lead 28-26 right before a made 3 by senior Justin McKie from the left corner that put Carolina back in front, 29-28, with 4:10 left.
A J.J. Frazier made 3 gave Georgia the lead back, as they went ahead 33-31 with 1:36 remaining in the half. The Bulldogs hit a free throw to go up 34-33 with 12 seconds left, giving the Gamecocks one more chance on the offensive end before the break. Dozier fed Thornwell at the top of the key. Thornwell fed it right back to Dozier on the left wing and he pulled up as time expired. The Columbia, S.C. native knocked down the shot from deep to give Carolina a 36-34 lead at the break.
Dozier led all scorers at half with 14 points. Silva poured in eight. The back-and-forth first half affair featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes. The Gamecocks were able to force eight turnovers in the opening period, which led to 11 points.
Carolina opened the second half on an 8-3 run as it jumped to a 44-37 lead at the under 16 media timeout with 15:58 remaining. The lead held firm at seven, 48-41, at the next media timeout with 11:01 on the clock. The Bulldogs opened the second half shooting just 18 percent from the field (2-of-11).
Georgia cut the Gamecock lead to two, 51-49, but Carolina answered with consecutive buckets from Dozier and Silva to push it back to six, 55-49, with 7:36 left.
In a four point game with 2:07 remaining, Silva went to the charity stripe to shoot two. He made the first, but missed the second. Gravett came up with a huge play tipping the miss to an open teammate to retain possession for the Gamecocks. Thornwell scored and Carolina went back up by six, 62-56, with 1:44 on the clock.
The Bulldogs shifted momentum back their way as leading scorer Yante Maten drilled a 3 at the top of the key with 57 seconds left to make it a one point game, 62-61. Thornwell attacked the hoop aggressively on the next possession and tipped in his own miss at the rim to put the Gamecocks up 64-61 with 36 seconds left. Georgia would get only one shot up in its final two possessions as Carolina held on for the hard-fought 67-61 conference victory on the road.
The Gamecocks forced 16 turnovers, highlighted by six steals from Sindarius Thornwell, which tied a career-high.
- Sophomore guard PJ Dozier tallied his sixth 20-point game of the season after leading all scorers with 24 Wednesday night.
- Senior guard Sindarius tied a career-high with six steals. The Lancaster, S.C., native, previously had six steals at home vs. UNC-Asheville on Nov. 26, 2014.
- Tonight’s win snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bulldogs that dated back to the 2015 SEC Tournament.
- The win was Carolina’s second-straight in an SEC opener on the road after posting an 81-69 at Auburn last season.
South Carolina continues SEC play when it hosts Texas A&M this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET in the league home opener at Colonial Life Arena. The contest will be just the sixth all-time between the two schools and the third in Columbia. Spero Dedes (pxp) and Clark Kellogg (analyst) will handle the call on the nationally-televised broadcast on CBS.
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