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Post Dawgs get what they need against Gamecocks

Thursday February 14, 2008

Following a loss at South Carolina two weeks ago, Dennis Felton thought that his offense had created plenty of good shots; they just didn’t fall. The Dawgs managed just 56 points, and they’d follow that up with a similar effort against Kentucky where open jumpshots were consistently missed.

Those shots finally fell last night, and Georgia dominated from start to finish in a 82-64 win over South Carolina. It was the first time Georgia has gone over 80 points since their last SEC win against Arkansas back in January.

Sundiata Gaines was impressive enough at Florida on Saturday, but his encore last night was something else. He tallied 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. His stellar night extended to the free throw line where he shot an above-average 70%. Gaines did most of his damage in the first half – nearly 20 points – and then Dave Bliss and Jeremy Price took over in the second half on their way to double-doubles.

This was the stat of the game to me: not only did the Dawgs outrebound the Gamecocks; Georgia had 17 offensive rebounds to 21 total rebounds for South Carolina. It’s one thing for Georgia to shoot 51.7% for the game, but when you add in the fact that they rebounded about 60% of their missed shots, the Dawgs were incredibly efficient with their possessions. 16 turnovers were the only thing slowing down the Georgia offense last night.

The sentiment seems pretty universal today: Georgia needed this one. No, the Dawgs aren’t suddenly tournament-worthy. But faced with a three-week span that included a five-game losing streak, a suspended/injured starter, speculation about the coach’s future, and an out-of-the-blue serious eye infection to a reserve…the Dawgs needed to take it out on someone.

Looking ahead, Tennessee comes to town this weekend. The Dawgs have played pretty well without Humphrey (and now without Barnes), but the question is how long they can keep it up. Gaines and Swansey each played 40 minutes against the Gamecocks, and even Dave Bliss was out there for 34. With Tennessee’s potent offense, Georgia will have to have another strong shooting performance just to stay in the gym. Tennessee hasn’t slipped up much this year, but Georgia came oh-so-close to a win over the Vols in the last regular season game a year ago, and stealing one on Saturday would make the past few weeks a distant memory.

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