Down their best, most consistent player of the year, Georgia fell into a trap it couldn’t get out of at lowly South Carolina on Saturday. Marcus Thornton stayed in Athens while his team dropped a 67-50 decision to the listless Gamecocks.
“Without Thornton we were totally disjoined. We never could settle down and find a rhythm,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said after the game.
The Gamecocks, now 2-6 in the SEC, held Georgia to its worst scoring performance of the conference season. Carolina’s big men, who are not overly skilled but are certainly overly tall, were out-rebounded 42-33, but must have done enough to rattle the Bulldogs. Layups were few and far between.
Hell, scoring seemed optional.
Georgia finished the day shooting only 22% from the field. You should shoot 3-pointers at a better rate than that. It was the worst shooting performance of the Mark Fox era in Athens, and that’s a lot of games.
It was a miserable day all around. Big man Yante Maten, in his first shot in the spotlight, finished the game with more fouls than points. J.J. Frazier, a 3-point wizard two games ago, managed to make only one today. In fact, Georgia’s once-blazing three-point shooting feel miserably below the mark - 3 for 17. The Cocks scored 25 points off turnovers. Its a mistake Georgia can’t seem to get right.
Maybe Carolina’s big men caused all of this. Perhaps the spacious Colonial Life Arena, which hasn’t had much life in it since it was erected, was a difficult place to shoot in. Maybe these Gamecocks, winners of only two SEC games so far, are about to get on a roll.
Maybe it was all of that. Maybe its a game that matters today, but won’t matter in March. Pretty much every tournament team has a bad loss or two - this is Georgia’s second.
Its a game you flush down the toilet. I’ve written about how these games happen in conference play. But all of that doesn’t take away the pain from a loss to a team as wondering as Carolina is right now. These Chickens are going to be fortunate to win six games in SEC play. This wasn’t about the opponent… it was about these Dawgs.
Fox, for his part, tried to jump-start his team.
“I was very disappointed with our leadership today,” he said.
So at the 9:51 point in the second half, Fox screamed enough to get a technical. But that just helped South Carolina turn two free throws into a five-point possession.
It was one of those nights.