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January 23, 2014

Hoops extra: UGA

ATHENS, Ga. - He's scored 50 points over his last two games, but to freshman Sindarius Thornwell, the accomplishment is so meaningless as to be irrelevant if his effort doesn't lead to a South Carolina win.

"I didn't play defense the way I was supposed to, I didn't rebound the way I was supposed to, I didn't make free throws," Thornwell said after South Carolina's 97-76 loss to Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum. "No matter what happened, how many points I score, it didn't help us win, so it doesn't mean anything."

Winning is all that does matter for the heralded freshman who now is averaging 18 points a game in SEC play and has scored 20 or more in three of five conference games. He said the losing streak, now at five games, is a bitter pill to swallow.

"It's tough man, it's tough." Thornwell said. "There ain't much I can say. I don't know what to do. We don't know what to do. There ain't no answers to this. We just have to play."

Thornwell refused to blame the 21-point loss on the referees, who called a season-high 33 fouls on the Gamecocks.

"We can't blame the game on the ref; it's us," Thornwell said. "The game plan was not to foul, but we came in and fouled. We didn't follow the game plan like we were supposed to, so that's all it is.

"We put them on the line. They scored a lot of points on the line. We didn't do our assignments. We turned the ball over, and that leads to open shots. We turned it over, they got penetration, kickouts. We didn't play defense. We didn't slide our feet and we fouled.

"There's nothing you can say. There's nothing I can say.:

For now, finding a confidence that's in short supply and executing assignments are the tasks at hand for a team at the bottom of the league standings.

"I think a couple guys on our team have confidence, but we still have to work," Thornwell said. "We have to move on. We can't dwell on the game. We have to come in tomorrow at 1:30 when it's time to practice and get prepared for Saturday.

"Yeah, you can (get confidence back). You just have to work. Get in the gym and work. That's the only way you build your confidence up."

"It's tough on us right now at 0-and-5. We feel bad right now. We can't dwell on it. We still have 13 more games to prepare for. There's only five games behind us. We can't take those games back, we have to come back and work and get prepared for Saturday."

BENCHED: One telling statistic from Wednesday's loss was bench points. South Carolina got just 17 points from its bench, 12 of those coming from one player - Jaylen Shaw. On the other hand, Georgia enjoyed 39 points from its bench, led by Nemanja Djurisic's 22 and points from six other Bulldogs.

DISHED: With point guard Ty Johnson likely out for the year, the Gamecocks lost their top scorer and also their top assist producer. Without him, South Carolina's guards have struggled to get the rest of the team open shots. Against Georgia, the Gamecocks had an SEC-low 8 assists while Georgia got shots at will as they combined for 21 assists.

HE'S BACK: A game after Brent Williams shot 0-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-6 from 3-point range against Ole Miss, the senior guard regained his shooting touch to score 18 against Georgia. He was 6-for-11 from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range and hit his only two free throws.

BOARDED: Georgia became only the most recent team to push South Carolina around inside, gaining a 39-27 advantage in rebounds. Mindaugas Kacinas and Desmond Ringer played a combined 21 minutes and scored no points, took no shots and collected no rebounds, though Kacinas did foul out and Ringer committed four fouls.

PLAYING TIME: Reserves Brian Steele and Reggie Theus Jr. saw their most action of the season against Georgia. Steele scored 3 points in 12 minutes of play while Theus Jr. was scoreless with a rebound (and a lane violation) in 13 minutes of action.



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