Coming off of a road win over Missouri this weekend, Lamont Paris and his South Carolina basketball team welcomed the Georgia Bulldogs to Columbia for a Tuesday night (9:00 PM tip time) showdown between two of the most overachieving teams in the SEC so far this season.
The game began with freshman Collin Murray-Boyles remaining in the starting lineup in place of Stephen Clark.
Murray-Boyles didn’t corral the opening tip, but the Gamecocks got a stop to set a nice tone. A silky smooth Meechie Johnson reverse layup opened the scoring. Following a Silas Demary make (after an uncalled travel), BJ Mack hit a 3-pointer, and Collin Murray-Boyles swatted a Noah Thomasson layup attempt.
The two teams traded a couple of post buckets before a 1-2 trip to the free throw line from Jabri Abdur-Rahim (yes, the son of NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim) made the score 7-5 in favor of USC heading into the media timeout.
Georgia took the lead 9-7 after back-to-back buckets down low, and Lamont Paris inserted Josh Gray for BJ Mack. Gray had 2 blocks within one minute of being in the game, including one that led to a fastbreak runout for Meechie Johnson that allowed Carolina to retake the lead. However, he turned around and dropped a pass that would have been an easy dunk and was removed from the game for Collin Murray-Boyles.
After the under-12 media timeout, Meechie Johnson hit two free throws to reclaim the lead for Carolina 12-11. It didn’t last long, though, as Noah Thomasson hit an awkward baseline runner on the other end. BJ Mack’s rough day defensively continued as Russell Tchewa scored again, but he earned the two points back with a second-chance post bucket off of a nice pump fake.
The crowd got loud after a big Collin Murray-Boyles block and subsequent Meechie Johnson floater, and the game was tied again at the under-8 timeout.
After the timeout, Johnson hit a deep 3-pointer to put his team up once again, and a minute later, a Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk 3-point play put USC ahead 24-19. Some ugly basketball followed for both teams, but after two turnovers from the home team, back-to-back outside shots by RJ Melendez put the Dawgs ahead again 29-27.
The final minutes of the half saw the UGA run balloon to 10-0 before two free throws from BJ Mack. Jacobi Wright followed that with a layup after a Collin Murray-Boyles offensive board. After a few possessions, Wright knocked down a baseline jumper to put the CourtCocks head just before halftime, 34-33.
After the mid-game break, South Carolina basketball got a boost from freshman Collin Murray-Boyles. The Columbia native drew a charge and scored on a post touch before stripping big man Russell Tchewa for what should have been a turnover, but the refs missed the call and said the ball went off of CMB. Then, he blocked another shot, scored on a backside lob from Meechie Johnson, and then drew another foul on Tchewa on a shot attempt. When the Murray-Boyles moment ended, the Gamecocks were ahead 39-33.
A 3-shot foul cut the Carolina lead to 3 momentarily, but BJ Mack put a nother second-chance bucket through the iron. A mini run from each team ensued, and at the 14-minute mark, the Gamecocks led 48-39 after a physical putback score from big Josh Gray.
Veteran guard Justin Hill finally scored for Georgia (on his 7th shot), but Gray couldn’t answer after getting fouled (making him 0-5 from the line for the game). The Dawgs cut the lead to 3 during a scoreless stretch for the Gamecocks that lasted over 3 minutes.
Myles Stute had to leave the game with a shoulder injury after a dirty play from Georgia’s RJ Melendez. A “hook and hold” of Stute’s left arm caused him to go to the locker room for the rest of the game.
Carolina did not make a shot from the field for over 9 minutes of game action, and Georgia took the lead 58-51 during the cold spell. A few free throws allowed USC to keep it close, but they also missed more than they made from the charity stripe during that stretch. Lamont Paris’ team missed 11 shots in a row and went 3-11 from the free throw line during Georgia’s 19-3 run.
The Gamecocks trailed 58-53 after 2 Collin Murray-Boyles free throws (they still hadn’t made a shot from the floor), but a Meechie Johnson make from way downtown ended the bleeding and cut the deficit to just 2 points. With 4:47 left in the game, the Bulldogs led the Gamecocks 58-56.
An off-ball foul on Zach Davis gave Jabri Abdur-Rahim two freebies, and then BJ Mack took and missed another outside shot before Jacobi Wright got whistled for a ticky-tack foul. Two Mack free throws brought the score to 61-58 in favor of the visitors with 3:58 left in the game.
Mack then gave it back with a silly foul 35 feet from the basket, and Silas Demary made both shots. The roller coaster continued as #2 scored on the other end to make the score 63-60. A terrible flagrant foul call against Meechie Johnson erased a stop and gave UGA a point from the free throw line. Because of the flagrant, the Dawgs got the ball back, drew yet another foul, and added one more at the line.
A BJ Mack miss threw contact resulted in no foul, but Zach Davis was whistled going for the rebound. Another 1-2 trip to the stripe came out of it, but Georgia’s lead had grown to 66-60 with less than two minutes left in the game.
Ta’Lon Cooper sank two free throws after a foul, but Frank Anselem-Ibe answered with a hook shot. Cooper then made a circus shot two-handed reverse layup to cut the deficit to 4 points again with 1:23 left.
A Justin Hill layup put the Dawgs up 6 and out of reach of the Gamecocks. Meechie Johnson hit a 3-pointer off of an off-ball screen play to give the home crowd a little bit of hope, but two RJ Melendez free throws iced the game. The Gamecocks lost a frustrating one to the Georgia Bulldogs 74-69.