Georgia’s 91-70 loss to South Carolina marked its second 20-plus point loss to the Gamecocks this season. Saturday’s game also counts as the Bulldogs’ tenth consecutive loss to the Gamecocks, and Tom Crean’s sixth since taking over as head coach in 2018.
The last time these two teams met was Jan. 27 when South Carolina defeated Georgia 83-59. The Bulldogs led for all of 19 seconds this time around in a game where they could get nothing going on the offensive end.
“I feel like we just did not come to play today,” said forward P.J. Horne. “We came, we were out there, but we did not play to the best of our ability to win that game.”
Much like the earlier meeting between Georgia and South Carolina, the Bulldogs struggled to score the ball efficiently. Their 31.8% shooting from the last game was only slightly improved to 36.7% in the second loss to the Gamecocks.
The poor offensive outing comes at an unexpected time after Georgia had one of its better wins of the year against LSU just four days earlier.
“I think our defense led us to moving the ball slowly on offense and being stagnant,” Horne said. “We have to correct things on the defensive end so that we can compete on the offensive end.”
Georgia trails in the all-time series with South Carolina 60-56 and sits in the midst of its worst stretch in the matchup’s history. Its 10-game losing streak dates back to Jan. 4, 2017, when the Bulldogs were coached by Mark Fox.
In both losses to South Carolina this season, Georgia has been held significantly under its scoring average of 77.7 points per game. The Bulldogs scored 64.5 points per game against the Gamecocks this season while shooting under 40% in both affairs.
Crean was adamant the blame fell on him following his team’s dismantling at the hands of South Carolina once again.
“I would say it starts with me, to be honest with you,” Crean said. “They wanted to fight and we did not. So I did a poor job of having our guys completely, 100% understand what this game was going to entail. We never locked into the fight … when nobody plays well, when nobody leads their teammates and when nobody is really to go through, cut, get hit, go up strong through the contact, that falls back on me.”
Georgia looked lifeless for stretches against South Carolina. Players stood in place for too long and neglected to cut as their head coach expected. Crean was disappointed in his players not being physical and moving with a purpose, which is how Georgia played in its wins.
“It was not because of practice, it was not because of fatigue,” Crean said. “When no one is in the fight, that falls back to the head coach and that is where I am at.”
Contrasting styles could play a significant part in Georgia’s inability to find success against South Carolina over the last few years. The Gamecocks are more physical and powerful than the Bulldogs in the paint while featuring more size as well.
Georgia has lacked size the last two seasons since losing Nicolas Claxton to the NBA. Rodney Howard was another Crean recruit who was poised for a larger role at 6-foot-11, 245 pounds, however, he transferred after last season. Even the Gamecocks’ guards boast some rather large size advantages.
“Well it could be because we have not had success with them,” Crean said. “They brought their best. Trey Hannibal, they left home for Mississippi State and today he comes in. He pushed the right buttons with his team so there is probably some truth to that.”