Gaines entered the contest with 997 career points and wasted no time earning his 1,000th-career point, drilling a three-point basket at the 16:47 mark in the first half. The Atlanta native joins fellow senior guard Charles Mann as current Bulldogs to eclipse the 1,000-point mark.
Georgia now holds a 56-24 all-time record against the Tigers and a 31-9 edge in games played in Athens.
“That was a really good win for our program,” head coach Mark Fox said. “We were so prepared for the game because we have so much respect for Clemson. Coach Brownell is such a terrific defensive coach. We really had a great focus and purpose about ourselves coming in. We didn’t start the game great and they really showed us in the first five minutes we better start playing like we’ve been practicing. We were able to flip the switch and play very, very well.”
The Bulldogs were led offensively by Mann with 18 pts. The senior went a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. Gaines was close behind with 17 points and five rebounds.
Clemson jumped out to an early 13-5 lead just five minutes into the game, but the Bulldogs were quick to recover. Georgia ripped off an 11-3 run over the course of the next five minutes tying up the score at 16-16 midway through the first half. Georgia continued its hot play eventually going on a 25-3 run to take a 28-16 lead with 4:40 left in the period. The Bulldogs smothered the Tigers on defensive end. Clemson was held to a mere 21.8-percent shooting in the half leading to a 39-24 UGA lead heading into the break.
The Bulldogs picked up right where they left off to start the second half going on a 9-2 run in the first two minutes. Highlighted in the UGA run was a big two-hand dunk from Gaines 55 seconds into the half. Georgia used a well-rounded scoring attack during the final twenty minutes. Eight different Bulldogs scored at least one point in the period. UGA’s defense was impressive once against holding the Tigers to 33.3-percent shooting in the half and only 23.1-percent from beyond the arc.
Georgia returns home Tuesday, December 29 to host Robert Morris at 7 p.m. ET at Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be nationally televised on the SEC Network.