Feb. 15, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Senior Malik Cooke led all scorers with 13 points, but it was his go-ahead layup with 20 seconds remaining that sealed a 57-56 South Carolina victory over Georgia Wednesday night at the Colonial Life Arena.
The Bulldogs (12-13, 3-8 SEC) had one final desperation attempt in the final second of play, but the Gamecocks (10-15, 2-9 SEC) held on for their second conference victory of the season to end Georgia's win streak.
Cooke's 13 points were followed by Brenton Williams's 10-point effort. Damontre Harris posted a stat line of nine points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Georgia was led by Gerald Robinson's 11 points.
Both teams got off to a slow start in the game, shooting a combined 7-for-27 in the opening eight minutes with the Gamecocks holding a 9-8 lead into the second media timeout. Georgia then proceeded to try and separate themselves by hitting three of four shots in an 8-0 run to take the largest lead of the half for either team, 16-9, but South Carolina quickly responded by making the next three shots of the game to even the score at 16-16 with 6:23 remaining in the half.
Trailing 19-18, Brenton Williams put the Gamecocks on his back with eight consecutive points in a one minute span to give South Carolina its biggest lead of the half, 26-21, with two minutes remaining before the break. After trading jumpers with Georgia's Ken Caldwell-Pope, Williams hit back-to-back 3's sandwiched around a Georgia turnover to get the Gamecock crowd back into the game.
The teams headed into halftime with the Gamecocks holding a 28-26 lead with both teams hitting nine field goals in the half and South Carolina going a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
An even second half was threatened to open up when Georgia fought to take a 46-39 lead with 9:10 remaining, but South Carolina again immediately shot its way back into the contest with a jumper by Malik Cooke preceding a Bruce Ellington three-pointer to make it a one possession game.
The Gamecocks reclaimed the lead at 50-48 in the waning five minutes with a six consecutive points coming at the hands of Cooke and Ellington before the teams entered the final media timeout tied at 53-53 on the back of consecutive 3's from South Carolina's Damien Leonard and Georgia's Caldwell-Pope.
Georgia's Gerald Robinson hit a 3 to give the Bulldogs a 56-55 advantage with 42 seconds remaining, but Cooke hit the go-ahead layup at the 20 second mark to put Carolina ahead 57-56. On the next possession, Damontre Harris rejected Robinson's shot in the paint, and Ellington collected the rebound, forcing Georgia to foul for the 1-and-1. Ellington missed the free throw, and Caldwell-Pope gave the Bulldogs a look for the win, but South Carolina escaped for their second conference victory.
South Carolina stays at home this Saturday when the team hosts LSU at the Colonial Life Arena with a tip-off of 1:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
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