Dawgs end regular season with win over Cocks

As the top scoring team in the SEC, Georgia prefers an up-tempo pace.</P>It enters the postseason boosted by the knowledge it also can win when forced into a much slower style of play.</P>

COLUMBIA, S.C. - As the top scoring team in the SEC, Georgia prefers an up-tempo pace.

It enters the postseason boosted by the knowledge it also can win when forced into a much slower style of play.

Forced to play without Ezra Williams after the 12:50 mark of the second half and having to rally from a deficit of 11 points with less than 10 minutes left in regulation, No. 25 Georgia outlasted South Carolina 60-55 in overtime Sunday.

Jarvis Hayes, who led Georgia with 19 points and added a career-high 11 rebounds, scored the Bulldogs' first six points in overtime.

Steve Thomas also recorded a double-double for Georgia with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Even with the five-minute overtime period, Georgia was held to its lowest points total of the season. But after improving their overtime record to 3-0, the Georgia players said winning the slow-paced game is a good sign for the postseason.

"Coach (Harrick) told us that in the (NCAA) tournament you have to play fast, medium and slow,'' Hayes said. "Today was slow. We adjusted. It didn't bother us at all. We played South Carolina's pace and beat them at their pace.''

Williams, who ranks fifth in the Southeastern Conference with his average of 17 points per game, suffered bruised ribs in Tuesday night's win over No. 3 Florida and then took another hit to the ribs in practice.

After Williams missed his first five shots of the second half, leaving him 2-for-11 for the game, Coach Jim Harrick brought in Richard Wehunt with 12:50 left in regulation. Williams, who finished with five points, never returned to the game.

"(Williams) came over and told me 'Coach, I'm really hurting,' '' Harrick said. "That's the first time he has ever said anything like that.''

Williams' health will be a big question as Georgia (19-8 overall, 11-5 Southeastern Conference) prepares to play Arkansas Thursday night in the SEC tournament in New Orleans.

Georgia will have a day off today before practicing for its SEC tournament opener, scheduled for a 9:45 p.m. ET tipoff. The Georgia-Arkansas winner will play Auburn Friday night in another 9:45 p.m. game.

Thanks to a 21-7 run to open the second half, South Carolina led 43-33 when Williams left the game and twice held big leads of 11 points, the last time at 48-37.

Wehunt sank two 3-pointers in his first five minutes in the game. His second 3-pointer pulled Georgia to within four points at 48-44. The Bulldogs pulled even at 50-50 on two free throws from Chris Daniels with 2:34 left in regulation, but neither team could take advantage of scoring opportunities to avoid overtime.

South Carolina wasted its last possession of regulation when Georgia's Rashad Wright drew a charge from Carlos Powell with 5.4 seconds left.

Wehunt missed a last-second shot from the corner, but the Bulldogs outscored the Gamecocks 10-5 in overtime.

South Carolina (12-15 overall, 5-11 SEC) made only 25.7 percent of its shots in the first half. Guards Michael Boynton and Chuck Eidson were a combined 0-for-6 in the first half but scored the Gamecocks' first 10 points of the second half.

South Carolina managed only 10 points in the final 15 minutes, including the overtime period.

"We only hit seven of 25 3-point shots,'' said South Carolina coach Dave Odom. "We need to hit more than that if we shoot that many, and that is way too many. ... We were dying for a basket down the stretch.''

Due to South Carolina's poor outside shooting, Georgia stayed in a zone defense late in the game, daring the Gamecocks' perimeter players to attempt shots.

The Gamecocks' first-round opponent in the SEC tournament is Alabama,  Thursday night at 7:30 ET.


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