COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 19 points and Georgia won its third straight Southeastern Conference game for just the second time in coach Mark Fox's four seasons with a 67-56 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (10-11, 4-4) trailed 30-29 at the half, but began the final period with a 17-8 run to take control. Georgia freshman Kenny Gaines scored 9 of his 11 points in that stretch. He got things going with two buckets to start the second half. When he hit a 3-pointer seven minutes later, the Bulldogs were ahead 46-38.
Caldwell-Pope, the SEC's second leading scorer, increased Georgia's margin to 59-49 with 4:31 to play.
Michael Carrera led the Gamecocks (12-9, 2-6) with 16 points, but had just one of those the final 20 minutes. South Carolina's leading scorer, Brenton Williams, was held to 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting.
Caldwell-Pope added seven rebounds for the Bulldogs.
But it was Georgia's fast start to the second half that turned things around in what had been a tight game, which had been tied six times - the last at 31-all on Gaines' first basket of the game. He followed up with a driving shot on his team's next possession that put the Bulldogs ahead for good. Gaines' third bucket of the half extended the lead to 37-33. John Cannon added two easy layups after Georgia beat South Carolina's backcourt press and Gaines' struck with his 3-pointer.
The Gamecocks got within 46-44 on Bruce Ellington's 3-pointer and three-point play, but Dontae Williams followed with a put back and Vincent Williams a 3-pointer to restore the Georgia's edge. South Carolina would not get closer than five points the rest of the way.
Georgia had bounced back from an 0-3 start to SEC play to win four of its last five games..
Caldwell-Pope got the Bulldogs started off on the right foot, making four of his first five shots as Georgia opened up a 20-16 lead. But Carrera, the dynamic Gamecocks freshman, answered back with an inside jumper and a 3-pointer to retake the lead.
Carrera strode forward and held the pose to the cheers of the crowd after sinking his long-range basket.
Caldwell-Pope, though, wasn't done. He had two more baskets and a pair of foul shots as the Bulldogs moved back in front 29-25. Carrera again ignited South Carolina, putting back Damien Leonard's missed 3-pointer in heavy traffic for a basket and adding two foul shots after driving the lane with the shot clock winding down and getting fouled.
The Gamecocks took the lead right before halftime, 30-29, on Mindaugas Kacinas' three-point play.
Caldwell-Pope finished the half with 16 points while Carrera had 15.
Georgia freshman Charles Mann, who had 5 points in the opening period, went to the locker room just before halftime after falling hard on his shoulder. Mann returned to the floor for second-half warmups, his right shoulder in a protective wrap. He re-entered the game early in the period. Mann finished with 11 points in 24 minutes.
Ellington had 14 points for South Carolina, who was held to seven points this past Wednesday night in a 75-36 loss at No. 4 Florida.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved