Sophomore guard Bruce Ellington posted 10 points for Carolina (10-20, 2-14 SEC), and Cooke shot 50 percent from the floor (6-12), including a 3-of-4 mark from 3-point range. Sophomore forward Damontre Harris pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
Senior guard Gerald Robinson Jr. led Georgia (14-16, 5-11 SEC) with a game high 23 points and freshman forward Nemanja Djurisic collected a game high 10 rebounds.
The teams combined for 52 free throws in the contest, with South Carolina hitting 13-of-18 attempts, while Georgia hit 23-of-34 from the line. Both teams struggled from the floor in the contest, with the Gamecocks hitting 36.7 percent (18-49) and Georgia 38.0 percent (19-50).
South Carolina took a quick 7-0 lead at the 15:34 mark on a 3 by Leonard, and Cooke followed two minutes later with a 3 of his own to push the lead to 10-0. Georgia finally marked the scoreboard at the 12:17 mark on a layup by Robinson Jr.
The score stood at the 12-minute media timeout, but the Bulldogs used a 6-2 run out of the break to pull within four with 8:25 on the clock.
South Carolina continued its defensive pressure after Ellington connected on a layup at the 6:36 mark. After the inbounds pass, Ellington and freshman guard Damien Leonard forced a steal at midcourt and Ellington scored another layup to push the Gamecock lead to 16-8 with 6:24 remaining.
Robinson Jr. found an offensive rhythm soon after, however, scoring 11 of the next 14 Georgia points to give the Bulldogs their first lead at 22-21 with 3:50 remaining in the half. Ellington and freshman forward Anthony Gill would add layups for Carolina, but UGA would hold a 30-23 lead at halftime.
Both teams shot well in the early part of the second half, with the Gamecocks pulling within two on a jumper from Cooke at 35-33 with 15:10 on the clock. Robinson would add a layup before a media timeout and Georgia scored four-straight out of the break to push its lead to 41-33 and force a South Carolina timeout with 12:31 remaining in the half.
The Gamecocks struggled to score through the midway point of the second half, but South Carolina pulled within six points at 53-47 on a made 3-pointer from Cooke with just over four minutes remaining. Ellington was called for a flagrant foul underneath the basket on the inbounds play and Georgia connected on two free throws and retained possession.
Georgia closed the contest at the free throw line, as the Bulldogs scored 20 of their 37 second half points at the line, connecting on 20-of-26 attempts in the second half.
South Carolina next travels to the 2012 SEC Tournament next week in New Orleans, La. The Gamecocks will be the No. 12 seed and will play the still to be determined No. 5 seed next Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
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