South Carolina 57, Georgia 56
Malik Cooke knew he had to make a play and Damontre Harris knew
he had to get a block. Both followed through perfectly and South
Carolina got the win it badly needed.
Cooke scored 13 points, including the go-ahead basket with 19
seconds left and Harris blocked a layup attempt by Georgia’s Gerald
Robinson Jr. to save the Gamecocks 57-56 victory Wednesday night –
ending a five-game losing streak that stretched more than three
”We really were just tired of losing,” said Cooke, South
Carolina’s only senior. ”We just want to try and start a win
The Gamecocks (10-15, 2-9 Southeastern Conference) overcame a
seven-point deficit in the second half, capped by a wild finish at
the Colonial Life Arena.
Bruce Ellington had the chance to extend South Carolina’s lead
after Harris’ big block, but missed his foul shot. That gave the
Bulldogs one last chance. However, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was too
strong on his 3-pointer and Cooke got his hands on the rebound.
There was a tie-up call and Georgia (12-13, 3-8) got 0.2 seconds
to pull off a miracle. But the 6-foot-9 Harris got a piece of
Connor Notle’s inbounds pass and the ball went harmlessly off the
side of the backboard to end the game.
Harris ended with five blocks, to go along with his 9 points and
”Coach (Darrin) Horn knows I’m pretty good at blocking shots,”
Robinson led Georgia with 11 points.
Brenton Williams had 10 points and Harris finished with 9
points, eight rebounds and five blocks. None were bigger than his
swat down of Robinson, who looked like he was on his way to putting
Georgia back in front.
”I have to give South Carolina credit,” Georgia coach Mark Fox
said. ”I thought they played a little hungrier than we did
The Bulldogs appeared to take control midway through the second
half when Caldwell-Pope’s two foul shots gave them a 46-39 lead
with 9:11 to go.
Cooke, though, got South Carolina’s rally started with a jumper
and Ellington followed with a 3-pointer for his first basket of the
South Carolina tied it at 48-all on Cooke’s basket with 5:09 to
go. The game was tied twice more before Robinson gave Georgia it’s
final lead with three with 41.8 seconds left and set up the final
”It probably goes without saying that this, for the sake of our
team, was an important game,” said Horn, the fourth-year coach
under fire from fans for South Carolina’s last-place showing so far
in the SEC.
Robinson was Georgia’s only player in double figures.
Caldwell-Pope ended with 9 points, five fewer than his average, on
3-of-12 shooting, including 1 of 7 from three-point range.
Georgia had won two in a row over Arkansas and a ranked
Mississippi State team in overtime last Saturday. The Bulldogs
hoped to carry that momentum into the Colonial Life Arena against a
Gamecock struggling for any positives.
Yet, Georgia couldn’t get much going early on. Leading scorer
Caldwell-Pope was 1 of 4 for the half, missing all three of his
attempts from behind the arc. The Bulldogs ended the period 9 of 29
South Carolina, meanwhile, found a bit of life thanks to
freshman guard Brenton Williams.
Georgia was up 21-20 on Caldwell-Pope’s jumper when Williams
struck for two straight 3-pointers that brought the sparse crowd at
the CLA to their feet.
South Carolina built a 28-23 lead right before the break –
remember last year in this contest the Gamecocks trailed 28-9 –
when Dustin Ware drained a fade away three as time ran out.
The Gamecocks leading scorer, Ellington, also had some shooting
problems. He was 0 of 3 overall and missed his two three-point
attempts. The sophomore guard also left the game for a time in the
first half after spraining a toe on his right foot. He returned a
short while later and played 15 minutes of the half.
South Carolina hit 14 of 15 foul shots, Ellington’s miss at the
end the only shot off the mark.
Cooke played for Fox when both were at Nevada. Cooke transferred
to the Gamecocks to be closer to his family in Charlotte, N.C. The
two have a good relationship, Cooke said, and he didn’t think at
all that he was beating his former coach. ”I just wanted to get a
win for South Carolina,” Cooke said. ”That’s what was in my