South Carolina (13-13) at Georgia (12-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) -- Athens, Georgia. Television: CBS. Home Record: USC 9-7, UGA 9-6. Away Record: USC 1-6, UGA 3-6. Neutral Record: USC 3-0, UGA 0-2. Conference Record: USC 3-10, UGA 6-7. Series Record: Georgia leads, 51-48.
GAME NOTES: The Georgia Bulldogs will attempt to halt a three-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to Stegeman Coliseum for an SEC clash.
South Carolina had been losers of a season-high, six straight games heading into its Wednesday night matchup with Ole Miss, but it pulled out a thrilling 63-62 victory for its first win in nearly a month. The Gamecocks have disappointed in the SEC (3-10), but they climbed back to .500 overall at 13-13.
Georgia appeared primed to make a strong run in the SEC following a five-game win streak a few weeks back, but it has dipped back below .500 both overall (12-14) and in league action (6-7) following three straight losses to Alabama (52-45), Ole Miss (84-74) and most recently at Arkansas on Thursday (62-60).
Georgia has beaten South Carolina in five of the last six matchups, including a 67-56 decision in Columbia on Feb. 2, to take a 51-48 lead in the all-time series.
The Gamecocks trailed on their home floor to Ole Miss earlier in the week by six with just over five minutes remaining, but they were able to claw their way back in and capped it off with a game-winning 3-pointer by Eric Smith in the final minute to capture the victory. Their offensive performance was modest at best, shooting 40 percent from the field, but they were able to hold the SEC's highest-scoring team below 38 percent shooting. Michael Carrera was a difference-maker inside with 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, while Smith scored 12 points and got others involved with his five assists.
South Carolina's scoring offense (66.7 ppg) has taken a huge hit in recent weeks, as it has averaged a lowly 53.6 ppg over the last seven contests. Carrera, a freshman, is the team's most consistent performer with 10.5 ppg on 47.5 percent field goal shooting to go along with 7.3 ppg. Brenton Williams splits his time between the starting lineup and the bench, and he pours in 10.0 ppg, while Bruce Ellington (9.9 ppg), Brian Richardson (8.2 ppg) and Lakeem Jackson (8.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) are also regular contributors.
The Bulldogs gave Arkansas, one of the nation's best home teams, a run for its money on Thursday night, overcoming a double-digit halftime deficit to tie the game in the final minute, but their late run was spoiled as the Razorbacks converted the game-winning layup with just five seconds remaining. After making just four field goals in the first half, Georgia improved its shooting percentage to .542 after intermission, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (15 points) and Sherrard Brantley (10 points) sparking the comeback attempt.
Scoring points has not been Georgia's strong suit this season, as it makes less than 42 percent of its field goal attempts, and in the SEC only Vanderbilt scores less than its 59.7 ppg. Fortunately it can often rely on a stout defensive play (61.3 ppg) to stay competitive in most contests. Caldwell-Pope is one of the conference's most exciting playmakers, scoring 17.6 ppg on 45.5 percent shooting to pair with 6.5 rpg and 2.1 spg, but unfortunately he doesn't get much help from his supporting cast. Nemanja Djurisic (7.8 ppg) is the only other player averaging more than six points per game, and he does so on only 38.6 percent shooting from the floor.
Even though Georgia is winless in its last three games, it has battled to the wire each time. The Bulldogs are surely happy to be home in this one, and their stellar defense should be able to stifle a South Carolina scoring attack that has floundered recently.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia 63, South Carolina 57
02/23 10:43:13 ET
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