Gamecocks MBB End Slide with Resounding Win


Coach Frank Martin had been happier with his team’s performances against #1 Kentucky and at LSU, but the Gamecocks still couldn’t get a win in those games.  Saturday, in front of a good crowd at the CLA, his team finally broke through and ended a 4 game skid with a 67-50 win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

Both teams entered the game missing a starting post player, UGA’s Marcus Thornton and SC’s Demetrius Henry were both held out of the game after suffering concussions in practice.  It was Henry’s 2nd straight game missed due to being concussed; teammate Justin Mckie has also missed the last two games due to the same ailment.  Thornton is Georgia’s leading scorer and rebounder, and their lack of post productivity without him was apparent. 

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After a few weeks of losing touch with what they do best, South Carolina has gotten back to basics and it showed, holding the Bulldogs to 22% shooting and 20 points below their season average.  UGA hit three of its first four 3-point attempts, but was 0-13 the rest of the way, making only 11 total shots from the field for the entire game.  After a sluggish start for both teams, Carolina had a 16-14 advantage midway through the 1st half.  Junior center Laimonas Chatkevicius sparked a 16-2 Gamecock run with put back, which was followed up by back to back Georgia turnovers which USC converted into fast break layups.  The run was sealed by an alley-oop dunk by Michael Carrera, which came off a set play drawn up by Coach Martin, and included a good pass from Sindarius Thornwell.  Behind at that point 30-16, the Bulldogs went on a 8-3 run of their own to cut the deficit to nine at halftime.

The 2nd half started well for Martin’s squad, with Sophomore Duane Notice scoring the first six points on a 3-point shot and a drive to the basket plus a foul, resulting in an old-fashion 3-point play.  Free throws helped keep Georgia in the game to an extent, but cutting USC’s lead to eight points was as close as they got after halftime.  The Gamecocks used a balanced scoring attack, with Chatkevicius, Thornwell, Notice, and senior guard Ty Johnson all in double figures for the evening.  Junior forward Carrera also added 8 points and 9 boards, while defensively Carolina was helped by seven steals and five blocked shots as a team.  Without their post scorer, the Bulldogs guards tried to drive to the basket, but Coach Martin’s guys were back to playing the stifling team defense that served them so well earlier in the year.  On multiple occasions, Georgia guards drove in to the paint and tried to find a teammate, after not being able to get a good shot, and had their passes stolen of deflected by USC’s weak side help defense.  Thornwell was especially effective in this regard, ending the game with three steals and sevral other delfected passes.  After UGA cut the lead to 8, Carolina responded with 3 made FTs, an offensive rebound, and a Chatkevicius hook shot to extend the lead back out and they were able to salt the game away from then on.

This was as close to a must win as it gets, keeping the Gamecocks record above .500, at 11-9, with road trips to Arkansas and Vanderbilt coming up this week.  As pleasing as the win was, the biggest smile for fans may have come in the last few minutes when a “Just like Football” chant started in the student section, referring to Carolina’s big win over the Bulldogs during football season this year.