ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — A.J. Lawson and Chris Silva scored 19 points apiece as South Carolina ended a two-game losing streak with an 86-80 win over Georgia on Saturday.
Derek Ogbeide led Georgia (10-11, 1-7 SEC) with 16 points. Tyree Crump added 14.
The Gamecocks (11-10, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) never trailed, but had to fight off repeated comeback attempts by Georgia. The last one climaxed when a pair of free throws by Georgia's William Jackson made the score 83-80 with just 1:06 to play, but the Bulldogs could not get the rebound off a missed shot by Carolina's Hassan Gravett.
Georgia fouled Lawson, who hit two free throws. Georgia then missed three 3-point attempts on its next possession and ran out of time.
South Carolina scored the first seven points of the game and built a 14-4 lead when Lawson hit a 3-pointer from the corner at 14:02 of the first half. It was 22-8 by the time Silva scored on a breakaway dunk with 9:39 to play in the half.
The Gamecocks' man-to-man defense was stifling. All of Georgia's first eight points were second-chance points. The Bulldogs had failed to generate a point off its offense until 9:00 to play when Okbeide hit two free throws after being fouled on a drive.
The Gamecocks briefly pushed the first-half lead to 15 on another 3 by Lawson with 6:42 to play. It was still a 14-point lead with 3:27 to go in the half after a 3 by Tre Campbell.
But Georgia scored nine straight points, capped by an acrobatic tip-in by Jordan Harris with 1:47 to play for cut the margin to 40-35. It was 45-40 at halftime.
Jackson opened the second half for Georgia with a 3-pointer to cut the margin to two points, but the Bulldogs could get no closer. South Carolina's lead expanded and contracted until 6-9 sophomore forward Felipe Haase nailed three straight 3s in 95 seconds to make it 69-56 with 9:41 to play, prompting a Georgia timeout.
Georgia did not rally immediately. The Bulldogs were still down 10 with 4:09 to play, but cut it to five on another acrobatic tip by Harris with 3:07 to go. Gravett, a Georgia native, hit a step-back 3 with 2:41 to play, which proved to be the Gamecocks' last field goal.
Georgia: Tom Crean's first Georgia team continues to find consistency on offense. While the Bulldogs hit 22 of 25 free throws, they shot just 40 percent from the field and turned the ball over 14 times.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks shot 68.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line, hitting 11 of 16. Haase equaled his career high with his 96-second spurt in the second half.
Georgia: The Bulldogs will try to gain their first road victory of the conference schedule when they travel to Tuscaloosa next Wednesday to face Alabama.