Plug one leak, and another opens up.
The Gamecocks limited Georgia forward Nemanja Djuristic to five points and three rebounds, but it was Kenny Gaines who scored 27 points to spur the Bulldogs to a 73-56 victory over South Carolina Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena.
Djuristic, who scorched the Gamecocks for 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal in the teams' prior meeting on Jan. 22, commanded enough of South Carolina's attention to create space for Gaines to make nine of his 14 shots from the field, including five 3-pointers.
"We was keeping an eye on Djurisic, I think we did a pretty good job on him," said senior point guard Brenton Williams. "But Gaines, it was the rotations on defense and we were just like seconds late, and that was giving him just enough time to get shots off. That happened in the first half and also in the second half."
While South Carolina struggled to get the ball into the basket at all, Gaines' 27-point outing ties for the second-most points the Gamecocks have allowed a single player to score in a game this season.
"He just hit big shots," said freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell. "There's nothing you can really say."
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING. Martin picked up a technical foul in the second half for arguing with a referee. Martin appeared upset with many of the officiating staff's calls throughout the game, and gave the staff a solid helping of his signature glare.
"Don't do that to me," Martin said to a media member who asked about the technical. "You understand what I'm saying? You know what I can answer and what I can't answer. Don't do that to me."
CARRERA AT WORK. Like his teammates, sophomore Michael Carrera struggled to get the ball into the basket. But Carrera did make his presence felt down low in a game - and a season - where the rest of South Carolina's frontcourt hasn't.
The Venezuelan scored just three points on 1-5 shooting - something head coach Frank Martin says has to improve - but hauled in a team-high 12 rebounds. Carrera set personal season-highs for offensive rebounds (7) and total rebounds in a single game. But the rest of South Carolina's frontcourt couldn't find the same success.
"We can't get any of those other bigs to make a layup or get a rebound," Martin said.
Mindaugas Kacinas, Demetrius Henry and Laimonas Chatkevicius combined for just four points and 11 rebounds, something Martin says hurt the Gamecocks offensively.
"We have no presence from a post-up," Martin said. "So we can't just throw the ball in the post and be able to even attempt a shot. So then we have to depend on dribble-driving, and the guys kind of left Sindarius on his own on that."
STEELE AND THE RESERVES. Walk-on Brian Steele saw his impact and playing time spike against Georgia. A 6-foot-5 junior from Greenville, S.C., Steele scored eight points on 2-7 shooting, including two 3-pointers, in 22 minutes of action. Steele averaged just 7.9 minutes and 1.6 points per game before Saturday.
But the rest of the bench didn't fare so well. Jaylen Shaw, Laimonas Chatkevicius and Demetrius Henry combined for five points, six rebounds, one assist and a block.
"Some guys off the bench have to help our team," Martin said. "I'm not into calling out people by name and all that stuff, but we need some of those bench guys to help our basketball team. They've got to find a way to be productive players for our basketball team."
WHITEOUT. With South Carolina's 3-0 record with snow on the ground in Columbia in mind, USC's athletics department encouraged fans to wear white to the game as part of a "Snowstorm With Whiteout Conditions" at Colonial Life Arena.
Fans in the lower bowl got white "SEC Network" rally towels, and students got free white t-shirts and concession stand food. The Gamecocks' record in artificial snowstorms this season dropped to 0-1 with the loss.
TRAILING. Georgia now leads 54-48 in the overall series.
Team SEC, Overall
Florida 14-0, 25-2
Kentucky 10-3, 20-6
Georgia 9-5, 15-11
LSU 7-6, 16-9
Missouri 7-6, 19-7
Tennessee 7-7, 16-11
Ole Miss 7-7, 16-11
Texas A&M 7-7, 16-11
Vanderbilt 6-7, 14-11
Arkansas 6-7, 17-9
Auburn 4-9, 12-12
Alabama 4-9, 10-16
Mississippi State 3-10, 13-13
South Carolina 3-11, 10-17
Florida 75, Ole Miss 71
Georgia 73, South Carolina 56
Texas A&M 68, Tennessee 65
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 4 p.m.
LSU at Kentucky, 4 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Auburn, 6 p.m.
Missouri at Alabama, 8 p.m.
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