Dawgs thrash Gamecocks

ATHENS – It lasted only 40 minutes, and there weren't many witnesses, but for one game Georgia looked like a competitive basketball team.

The Bulldogs snapped a five-game losing streak Wednesday night by beating South Carolina 82-64 in Stegeman Coliseum. Fewer than 3,000 people were on hand to see it, (the official attendance was listed as 6,897) but that did nothing to detract from the relief the Bulldogs felt afterward.

"I don't know if we felt pressure, but it definitely gets rid of some frustration getting back in the win column and in a convincing way," senior center Dave Bliss said.

Senior point guard Sundiata Gaines led the way as usual, scoring 27 points as the Bulldogs matched their best scoring output of the SEC season. Gaines has 59 points in the last two games.

"He's the best guard in the league right now," South Carolina head coach Dave Odom said.

Freshman forward Jeremy Price added 19 points, the highest of his career against a conference opponent, and a career-high 12 rebounds. It was his first double-double.

The victory pulled Georgia (12-10, 3-6 SEC) into a tie with the Gamecocks (11-12, 3-6) for last place in the SEC's Eastern Division. The Bulldogs' next four games are against No. 4 Tennessee at home on Saturday, at Kentucky, at Vanderbilt and then back home to play Florida.

"You lose this one, and you've got a chance of going on a slide, not that it wasn't already," Bliss said. "That was definitely one we needed to get."

The Bulldogs entered the game with the worst shooting percentage of any SEC team in conference games, 38.7 percent, but hit more than half their shots against the Gamecocks, going 30-of-58 from the floor (51.7 percent).

"I've been saying it all along, making shots makes a world of difference," Georgia head coach Dennis Felton said. "We've been competitive enough and played well enough in all but one of those games that we lost to win, we just struggled to make shots. So tonight we make shots and not only do we win, we win very, very handily."

Georgia played exclusively zone defense to protect its limited depth, and the normally sharp-shooting Gamecocks were unable to victimize that approach with outside shooting. South Carolina, the second-best 3-point shooting team in the league, missed 22 of its 30 long-distance attempts.

The Bulldogs outrebounded the Gamecocks 43-21.

"Our emphasis going into the game was we wanted to dominate the paint in every way," Felton said.

While the losing streak is over, Georgia's losing battle with attrition is not. Freshman forward Chris Barnes was unavailable due to an infected cornea, which was detected Monday when he woke with an irritated eye.

Barnes, who watched from the sideline in a suit and shaded glasses, is expected to recover fully but the date of his return is unknown, Felton said.

"It's a very serious thing," Felton said. "We feel blessed that we were on it so quick because it's literally the kind of thing where you can lose your vision, but he's doing fine."

His absence left the Bulldogs with seven scholarship players, but that was plenty against the Gamecocks. Georgia never trailed after the game's first two minutes and led 46-29 at halftime.

NOTE: Georgia's 1983 Final Four team, including former head coach Hugh Durham, will be honored at halftime of Saturday's game against Tennessee.

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