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

weeks.

”We really were just tired of losing,” said Cooke, South

Carolina’s only senior. ”We just want to try and start a win

streak.”

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

eight rebounds.

”Coach (Darrin) Horn knows I’m pretty good at blocking shots,”

Harris said.

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

tonight.”

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

game.

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

frantic moments.

”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

(31 percent).

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

mind.”