Georgia tops South Carolina in regular season finale
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Gerald Robinson scored 23 points to lead Georgia to a 67-55 win over South Carolina Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams.
Georgia (14-16, 5-11 Southeastern Conference) failed to score in the first 7:43 of the game as South Carolina bolted to a 10-0 lead.
Malik Cooke led the Gamecocks (10-20, 2-14) with 17 points, and Bruce Ellington chipped in 10 points.
Coach Mark Fox started all four seniors, including career subs Connor Nolte and Matt Bucklin. That rare lineup plus the residual effect of playing at No. 1 Kentucky at 9 p.m. Thursday night contributed to the Bulldogs' sluggish start.
South Carolina's Cooke accounted for seven of the Gamecocks' first 10 points. The Bulldogs appeared headed for another low-scoring first half. Sixteen times this season already Georgia had scored fewer than 30 points in the first half, including three games with fewer than 20 points.
Georgia finally broke through when Robinson got a steal and a layup with 12:17 to go in the half. That started a 6-0 run, but the Gamecocks pushed their lead back to 16-6 on two layups in 12 seconds by Ellington.
But the Bulldogs heated up in the last six minutes of the half, hitting five straight 3-point baskets during a 24-7 run that put the Bulldogs up 30-23 at halftime. Robinson, who closed out his Stegeman Coliseum career, hit three of those treys.
South Carolina had its own scoring drought in the second half, going 7:37 between field goals, though the Gamecocks did make four free throws during that stretch. Cooke scored on a short jumper with 15:09 to play to cut the gap to 35-33. The Gamecocks did not score another field goal until 7:25 remained with Cooke hitting a 3-pointer that made it 49-40.
Georgia's biggest lead was 49-35 with 8:15 left when Donte Williams hit two free throws. A 3-pointer by Brian Richardson pulled the Gamecocks within 57-50 with 2:58 to go, but South Carolina could get no closer down the stretch.
Georgia hit 10 straight free throws over the last 4:05. For the game, Georgia hit a season-high 23 field goals. Entering the game, Georgia was 11th in the SEC in free throws made this year. Only South Carolina had made fewer.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season in 11th place in the standings and will play the SEC's sixth-place finisher Thursday at 10 p.m. in New Orleans.
South Carolina finished last and will draw the fifth place team at 3:30 Thursday.
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