Athens, GA - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all scorers with 18 points as the Bulldogs rallied to take down SEC opponent South Carolina 62-54 in overtime in front of a crowd of 6,590 at Stegeman Coliseum Saturday. Freshman Charles Mann and sophomore Nemja Djurisic both contributed double figure scoring off the bench, totaling 14 and 11 respectively.
“Well that was a hard fought game,” Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox said after the game. “We felt coming in that this was going to be a battle and it certainly was. We were fortunate to get the game into overtime and then we played pretty solid in the OT. It was certainly a hard fought SEC game.”
Both Georgia (13-14, 7-7) and South Carolina (13-14, 3-11) got off to a rough start in the first half as the first six field goal attempts were missed. The first points in the game didn’t come until the 17:45 mark when John Florveus was able to lay one in off the glass off of an assist from Caldwell-Pope. The next field goal did not come for another three minutes when the Gamecocks were finally able to get on the board with a lay up from Laimonas Chatkevicius.
The first half came to a close with Georgia clutching on to a 23-16 lead despite shooting just 23.1% from the field, making 6-26 field goal attempts and failing to make a three pointer. The Gamecocks shot just 20% from the field, also making just six field goals on 30 attempts and failing to make a three pointer. Caldwell-Pope failed to score in the first half for the second consecutive game, contributing to the Bulldogs shooting woes missing on each of his four field goal attempts and failing to make any of his three free throw attempts as well.
The second half started off on a much quicker note, as both teams were able to score 10 points in the first four minutes, making nine consecutive shots. South Carolina then went on a 16-5 run that lasted seven minutes and put the Gamecocks in front 42-40 with 7:05 remaining in the game.
A three pointer by Bruce Ellington gave South Carolina a four point lead with 1:43 remaining in the game. The Bulldogs were able to battle back as Caldwell-Pope and Djurisic combined to make three consecutive free throws, cutting the lead to one with under a minute to play.
South Carolina’s Eric Smith then connected on two free throw attempts with 17 seconds remaining in the game to put the Gamecocks back up by three before Georgia called for a timeout.
Following the time out, the Bulldogs immediately went to their go to player, Caldwell-Pope who knocked down a three pointer to tie the game with 8.9 seconds remaining.
“That last play was a well-executed play,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I just knocked down a big shot. In practice, we go over every offensive play, and that is one of them. I just have to knock down the shot when the ball is in my hands.”
Following Caldwell-Pope’s shot, however, the clock did not stop once the ball went through the net. South Carolina’s Smith was forced to throw up a deep three as time expired, which bounced off of the rim, appearing to send the game into over time.
During the intermission, the officiating crew congregated around the scorer’s table and determined that, because the clock did not stop after Caldwell-Pope’s shot, that time must be added back to regulation. The officials added 4.5 seconds back to the end of the second half.
“With 8.9 seconds left, the clock was erroneously started during a dead ball situation,” official’s crew chief Anthony Jordan said. “By rule, it was clearly a correctible-error situation. We put the ball back in play, giving South Carolina the 4.5 seconds it had lost when the clock erroneously ran.”
The correction gave the Gamecocks one last attempt to end the game in regulation, however, Bruce Ellington was unable to get a clean shot off as he was blocked by Charles Mann as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
“We were up four with one minute to go, you have to win the game and we didn’t do that,” South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin said. “We were scrambling from the word ‘go’ and I have no idea why. We had said we were chasing [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] off of every screen because we knew they were going to him. We knew the play they were running and we fell asleep. Give him credit….he made a long shot.”
It was all Bulldogs in overtime as Georgia held South Carolina to just one point in the extra period. Caldwell-Pope scored four points in overtime while Djurisic added three of his own as the Bulldogs outscored the Gamecocks 9-1 to lockup the victory and get back to .500 in SEC play.
“It feels good to win,” Coach Fox added after the game. “The team has had a tough last ten days. It feels good for them to get a victory….It helps this group because they did things right and when you do things right you want them to be rewarded. So tonight they get that reward.”
With just four regular season games remaining, Georgia will travel to Vanderbilt on Wednesday February 23, 2013 before returning home to face rival Tennessee on Saturday March 2, 2013 in Stegeman Coliseum at 1:45 pm.