South Carolina made only six second-half shots from the field while struggling with its worst shooting of the season.
The good news for the Gamecocks is two of those shots were important late 3-pointers by Frank Booker.
Booker scored 17 and South Carolina withstood Georgia’s strong second-half start to beat the Bulldogs 64-57 on Saturday.
South Carolina (11-6, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) overcame a season-low 27.1 percent shooting from the field. Chris Silva scored 14 points and Hassani Gravett had 11 as the Gamecocks took their first SEC road win.
A short jumper by Georgia’s Yante Maten provided the last tie at 49-all. Booker answered with a quick 3-pointer to yank momentum back from the Bulldogs.
“They had some momentum,” Booker said. “They tied the game back up and had their crowd back into it. That 3 kind of deflated their crowd and helped us get a little more energy and momentum on defense.”
Booker sank another 3 with 1:22 remaining.
The Gamecocks outrebounded Georgia, 46-42, and had fewer turnovers, 14-7, to help make up for their poor shooting.
“To me, I call it South Carolina basketball,” Silva said. “We were not shooting well but we rely on defense and being aggressive.”
There were three ties but Georgia (11-5, 2-3) never led while suffering its first home loss of the season after eight wins. It was the Bulldogs’ second straight loss.
Maten led the Bulldogs with 25 points but had too little scoring help, especially from Georgia’s other frontline starters. Derek Ogbeide and freshman Rayshaun Hammonds combined for only three points.
Georgia made only 18 of 28 free throws.
“We anticipated it would be a slugfest and when you have a game like that you have to rebound and make free throws and we didn’t do that,” said Georgia coach Mark Fox.
Powered by two early 3-pointers from Evan Hinson, South Carolina took a 9-2 lead.
Georgia pulled even with a 10-2 run to open the second half. Juwan Parker, who had 11 points, was fouled while making a baseline jumper. Parker’s free throw left the score 39-all, the first tie since 2-2.
The Gamecocks regrouped to prevent Georgia from taking the lead. A 3-pointer by Gravett and a basket by Justin Manaya gave South Carolina a 49-43 advantage.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks made an impressive recovery from a 76-62 loss at Alabama on Tuesday night. It was their second straight win in Athens. They won 67-61 at Georgia last season. ... The two early 3s by Hinson and eight points in the first half set career high for a game. He was averaging only 2.7 points per game and had never made more than one 3-pointer in a game. He finished with eight points. ... The Gamecocks made 26 of 35 free throws, helping to compensate for the poor field-goal shooting.
Georgia: The Bulldogs’ two straight losses have put them behind in the SEC race and in their hopes to show they deserve a spot in the NCAA tournament. They were hurt by the lack of scoring balance, especially on the front line. The Gamecocks shut down Ogbeide and Hammonds in the first 20 minutes. Each missed his only shot from the field in the half and was scoreless.
About midway through the second half, Maten crashed into Fox while chasing a loose ball. Fox was knocked back on the sideline, leaving his legs sticking straight up in the air, but he was not hurt and slapped Maten on the back while sending the senior back onto the court.
Georgia fans cheered loudly when football coach Kirby Smart was shown on the video board watching the game from the stands with one of his children. It was the first home basketball game for the Bulldogs since the football team’s loss to Alabama in the national championship game on Monday night.
South Carolina: Hosts No. 21 Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Georgia: At Louisiana State on Tuesday night.
Johnson C. Smith 56, Fayetteville State 55: Robert Davis scored a game-high 19 points and added five rebounds as the visiting Golden Bulls (9-7, 2-2 CIAA) evened their conference record. Cayse Minor scored 14 points. Christian Kirchman added 10 points with six rebounds. The Golden Bulls hit 8-of-12 3-pointers. Denzell Hosch led the Broncos (4-12, 1-5) with 18 points.
Lincoln Memorial 73, No. 1 Queens 72: The previously undefeated Royals (16-1, 8-1 SAC) fell at home despite 19 points from Shaun Willett. Daniel Carr added 14 points, while Ike Agusi scored 12 points with five assists. Todd Withers pulled down eight rebounds. The Royals hit just 26-0f-66 field-goal attempts and 7-of-26 3-point tries. Trevon Shaw with 17 points and Dorian Pinson with 16 led the Railsplitters (15-1, 9-0).
Georgia Southern 60, Appalachian State 59: At Boone, Tookie Brown hit two straight jumpers in the final minutes as Georgia Southern rallied to beat Appalachian State 60-59 for its fourth straight Sun Belt Conference win.
Trailing 57-56, Brown hit a jump shot for a 58-57 lead. He made the game-winning shot with 56 seconds left. Isaac Johnson answered with a layup with 39 seconds remaining. The game ended on Ronshad Shabazz’s missed 3-point attempt that would have won the game for the Mountaineers.
Brown, who drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Little Rock 72-69 last Saturday, had 21 points, three assists and two steals. Mike Hughes added 12 points and Montae Glenn chipped in eight with eight rebounds for Georgia Southern (14-5, 5-1).
Appalachian State was up 25-21 at the break and led 46-34 with 12:28 remaining. The Eagles rallied to take a 52-51 lead after Quan Jackson’s dunk with 5:57 left.
Shabazz had 17 points for the Mountaineers (8-11, 3-3).
Observer News Services contributed.