Big nights from Downey and Muldrow sink UGA

The high flying expectations brought to the South Carolina basketball team after the Kentucky game nearly took a dive on Saturday night, as the high flying play of Georgia guard Travis Leslie nearly proved enough to carry the ‘Dawgs to victory. In the end, a late Devan Downey drive and layup was enough to propel the Gamecocks to a 78-77 victory.

Downey resumed his usual antics on Saturday, scoring 33 to lead the Gamecocks to the thrilling victory. Although they led most of the game, Mark Fox's team could not hold, and fell to a Gamecock team that may be getting hot at the right time.

It was a good shooting night for both teams, with the Gamecocks shooting an SEC high 51.8 % from the field and 52.9% from 3-point range. Georgia shot an even 50% from the field in the game.

The Georgia Bulldogs rolled into Colonial Life Arena during the tail stretch of a difficult road trip, and led the Gamecocks by two at halftime.

Georgia's scrappy defense combined with the efforts of reigning SEC Player of the Week Travis Leslie helped them come out of the gate and play well against the fired up Gamecocks.

"It's great to get another home win," said Darrin Horn. "The crowd was great and the students were awesome. The team wasn't great but to win games in this league you need to get some wins like tonight when you're not at your best."

Coming off the win against Kentucky, the crowd was certainly fired up, presenting a difficult environment for Mark Fox's team, still in search of their first true road win of the year.

However, Georgia more than held their own in the early going, gaining 6 steals against a sloppy Darrin Horn squad early on. The Dawgs used these steals as well as the fast break to help establish their lead.

Devan Downey got off to a blazing start, scoring 8 of the Gamecocks first 10 points, but was held to only 5 points for the rest of the half.

After dueling with Kentucky forward DeMarcus Cousins in the previous game, it appeared that Downey would have to outdo Leslie, who threw down several powerful dunks in the first and second halves, igniting the Georgia bench in celebration. Leslie finished with 21 points in the game.

"We actually guarded Leslie in the earlier segments," said Horn. "He's a phenomenal athlete."

Although UGA led by as many as 9 in the second half, the Gamecocks were able to get back into it due to some timely 3-point shooting. Stephen Spinella and Ramon Galloway each contributed two 3-pointers, with Galloway's coming during key moments in the second half.

Despite being outscored in the paint, and with Austin Steed in foul trouble for much of the second half, the Gamecocks turned to Sam Muldrow to help relieve their ailing inside game.

Muldrow responded with his first career double-double, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

"I believe he can play like that all the time," said Horn in describing his junior center. "I've been accused of having too high expectations of our players, but I think Sam is skilled and athletic. It's good to see that."

Fox said that his team was disappointed in the outcome of the game, but gave recognition to the Gamecocks for staying tough down the stretch.

"It was certainly a hard fought game," asserted Fox. "Credit South Carolina for making the plays late. It was a good college basketball game and we came up short."

After losing three straight SEC games, the Gamecocks have roared back with wins over #1 Kentucky and a tough game against Georgia. The team will have a layoff with no mid-week game, but will look to build their SEC winning streak to three games when they travel to Knoxville next weekend to take on the Volunteers.

"Just to get two wins is huge given the circumstances," said Horn. "Bouncing back and beating a team, those are two positive things to build a program and show you're making progress. That being said, it doesn't mean we've arrived. We still have to come back Monday and get back to work."

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