South Carolina forward Carlos Powell led all players with 16 points and with at least a half dozen trips to the floor. Midway through the first half, he was knocked woozy after running into Georgia forward Corey Gibbs.
"I really don't know what happened," he said. "I tried to fake and turned back, and he hit me in the eye and everything went black."
Powell had to leave the game briefly and returned with a badly swollen left eye.
"I was highly upset and ready to play, man," he said.
His frustration, and his team's, showed, as the Gamecocks were whistled for three technical fouls in the first five minutes of the second half, a span in which Powell was hit in the left eye again.
Asked if he thought the Bulldogs (7-12,1-8 SEC) played dirty, Powell said, "Yeah. I really was kind of upset by that. I guess that's how they play. They're trying to get a win somehow."
South Carolina coach Dave Odom didn't agree with Powell's assessment of the Bulldogs' style, but he did say that Georgia plays a more physical game that most teams in the league.
"They're playing with fewer cards in the deck," he said. "They have carved out a way that they feel is the best for them. I don't question that. If I thought there was dirty play there, I would say that. I don't. It's a physical style."
Odom clearly noticed Georgia's style of play before he got to the gym Saturday. He said he was "probably as much at fault as anyone" for the game's physical nature because he had spent the previous two days telling his team again and again how physically the Bulldogs were going to play.
"Maybe I had our team on edge a little too much," he said. "I'm not sure we reacted the right way to some of the physical contact."
Georgia coach Dennis Felton scoffed at the idea that his team was the aggressor in the game.
"We don't even have the kind of team that can be rough," he said. "We're not physically strong enough to be rough. How can we be physical?We're smaller and weaker than everybody else. I wish we had a player that was as physical as Powell."
However, Georgia center Dave Bliss, who was at the center of much of the contact, indicated the Bulldogs were doing the only thing they could to compete.
"We want to play hard," he said. "If that means being physical, that's what we're going to do. Our post players' strength is just that -- strength. We're not going to try to outfinesse them because it just doesn't make any sense to do that."
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their skill didn't match their intensity. They hit just 4 of 22 3-point attempts and just 31 percent of their shots overall. Twenty-seven minutes into the game, the Bulldogs had only made nine shots. In addition, the SEC's worst foul-shooting team missed seven of its last 17 free throw attempts.
"That's the frustrating part," Felton said. "If we would have made just a few of the easy shots we missed, we would have won the game."
The Bulldogs' only lead of the second half came thanks to South Carolina's three technical fouls. The first two were on Gamecock players for taunting. The last one was on Odom, who threw a chair to the court in frustration. Odom threw the chair straight down as he team began to huddle during a timeout, and it bounced once on the court.
"I did throw the chair," he said, "but, and I told the officials this, in my heart of heart, I was not throwing it out of anything they did. I was upset that my team lost its composure."
The outbursts gave Georgia's Channing Toney six technical free throws and he hit five of them. His final two put the Bulldogs up 31-30 with 15:46 left. After a South Carolina basket, Steve Newman scored to put the Bulldogs ahead 33-32 with 13:49 left.
However, that lead lasted only 14 more seconds until Tre Kelly hit a 3-pointer that started a 14-4 Gamecock run.
In the first half, the teams combined for 40 points (23 of them for South Carolina, 17 for Georgia), two fewer than the Bulldogs managed by themselves in the first half Wednesday night against LSU. Both teams turned the ball over 10 times, and Georgia shot just 24 percent (6 of 25).
NOTE: Georgia guard Levi Stukes played with a heavily wrapped right ankle and scored 10 points.