Dawgs drop home game

ATHENS -- The Southeastern Conference season is only a week old, and already Georgia is in need of divine intervention.

"Somehow, someway, God is going to give us an answer," senior forward Jonas Hayes said after the Bulldogs lost 84-63 to South Carolina on Saturday evening.

Georgia's reclamation project may take some heavenly influence. For the first time in the program's history, the Bulldogs lost their first two SEC games by 20 or more points.

"It's not a very significant statistic," Coach Dennis Felton said. "The season is a marathon, not a sprint."

Felton did admit, though, that he's worried about his team's mental state after a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 10,017 watched Georgia's worst home loss since 1997, when it fell to Kentucky 86-65.

"So much of the game is mental that, as a coach, you are always trying to manage how your team feels about itself," he said. "It becomes even more critical when you hit a rough spot."

The Bulldogs are now 8-5 overall and 0-2 in the SEC, and their next game is at No. 7 Kentucky on Saturday.

"We have to keep going back to the drawing board, find a solution," Hayes said. "It's going to be a dogfight. There are 14 games left to make something of the season."

South Carolina had six players score in double figures and improved to 14-2 overall and 1-1 in the SEC. Kerbrell Brown hit 7 of 8 shots to lead the Gamecocks with 18 points.

Georgia's last lead came when point guard Rashad Wright hit a 3-pointer 35 seconds into the game. Wright hit another 3-pointer at the 11:27 mark to cut South Carolina's lead to 17-16, but the Gamecocks scored 12 straight from there. Georgia never got closer than 14 in the second half.

"You've just got to let it go," said Georgia's Damien Wilkins.

The Bulldogs were led by Chris Daniels, who hit 12 of 13 free throws and had 18 points. Georgia shot just 39.6 percent from the floor, including 17.6 percent from behind the 3-point line, against the SEC's leading defense.

"We wanted to come down here and make them play," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "We also wanted to push the depth of the two teams. They're playing their starters 38 minutes per game, and we felt like we could tire them out."

That strategy worked perfectly. Georgia got only four points in 45 minutes out of its bench players. South Carolina got 29 points out of its bench.

"We just can't escape the fact that guys we turn to on the bench just aren't the typical SEC player," Felton said.

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