COLUMBIA, S.C. ---- The standings continue to insist Georgia is the leader in the SEC East.
By their play on the court, however, the Bulldogs are looking like anything but a leader.
Suffering its second straight loss for the first time this season, 16th-ranked Georgia did not lead after the midpoint of the first half as an inspired South Carolina team stuffed the Bulldogs 80-67 Wednesday night on Georgia's final visit to Frank McGuire Arena.
Georgia coach Jim Harrick drew his first technical foul of the season, but that was about the only loud protest from the visitors.
Led by Jemel Bradley's 22 points, South Carolina spent most of the second half with a lead in double figures.
"Teams are playing great against us, man, that's about all it is,'' Harrick said, also referring to Saturday's loss at Vanderbilt.
Added Harrick: "They see we're ranked and in first place. Vanderbilt and South Carolina coaches told me ‘That's the best we've played all year.' ''
The surprise is that Georgia could lose back-to-back games and still rest in first place. Georgia (16-5 overall, 5-3 in the Southeastern Conference) is one-half game ahead of Florida and Kentucky in the East, thanks to Kentucky's win at Florida Tuesday night.
Georgia at least made the 86-84 loss at Vanderbilt a close game. Against South Carolina, Georgia trailed by as many as 15 points and only briefly posed a second-half challenge.
Slowly, the Bulldogs are realizing that their previous impressive wins at Kentucky and Florida have made them a target for the rest of the league.
"With the success of the teams we've beaten on the road, it makes any home team get up that much more against us,'' said Jarvis Hayes, who led the Bulldogs with 21 points.
Ezra Williams added 19 points, but for the second straight game Georgia was outshot on 3-pointers.
While South Carolina, led by Bradley's 5-for-10 shooting beyond the 3-point arc, made 8 of 19 3-pointers, Georgia was only 5 for 19 on the long ball.
Bradley, a senior, became South Carolina's all-time leader with 219 3-pointers, passing the previous record of 215 held by B.J. McKie (1996-99).
Georgia also fought foul trouble, with Jonas Hayes fouling out and Chris Daniels, Rashad Wright and Williams finishing the game with four fouls.
Harrick was called for his technical foul after Daniels was charged with an offensive foul with 3:50 left in the first half. At the time, South Carolina was leading 25-24.
Harrick spent much of the rest of the half making his objections known to the officials, and after the buzzer he lingered at the bench for one last glare as the crew left the floor.
"I certainly don't think I deserved a technical foul,'' Harrick said. "That's preposterous. That sets the tone. That's very disappointing.''
Harrick had more reasons to complain in the second half. Georgia twice faced 11-point deficits early in the half before pulling within two points at 50-48 on a 3-pointer by Williams with 13:22 left to play.
Georgia then suffered through a scoring drought that lasted almost six minutes, ending with another 3-pointer by Williams at the 7:36 mark. In the gap, South Carolina took command for good with 13 unanswered points.
During the run, Harrick came close to drawing another technical foul when he loudly protested another call on an offensive foul against Daniels only seconds after Williams' fourth foul also came on the offensive end of the floor.
Georgia was called for 24 fouls, compared to 16 for South Carolina (13-7 overall, 3-4 in the SEC).
Bradley was the star of the game for the home crowd of 9,717. But equally important was the play of South Carolina junior Chuck Eidson, who was averaging only 7.5 points per game.
Against Georgia, Eidson found his range, scoring 17 points, including 14 in the first half on 6-for-6 shooting from the field.
Eidson scored 13 of South Carolina's final 24 points of the half as the Gamecocks led 38-32 at the break.
Georgia will play host to Mississippi Saturday at 4 p.m.