COLUMBIA — Malik Cooke knew he had to make a play and Damontre Harris knew he had to get a block. Both followed through perfectly and South Carolina got the win it badly needed.
Cooke scored 13 points, including the go-ahead basket with 19 seconds left and Harris blocked a layup attempt by Georgia’s Gerald Robinson Jr. to save the Gamecocks 57-56 victory Wednesday night – ending a five-game losing streak that stretched more than three weeks.
“We really were just tired of losing,” said Cooke, South Carolina’s only senior. “We just want to try and start a win streak.”
The Gamecocks (10-15, 2-9 Southeastern Conference) overcame a seven-point deficit in the second half, capped by a wild finish.
Bruce Ellington had the chance to extend South Carolina’s lead after Harris’ big block, but missed his foul shot. That gave the Bulldogs one last chance. However, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was too strong on his 3-pointer and Cooke got his hands on the rebound.
There was a tie-up call and Georgia (12-13, 3-8) got 0.2 seconds to pull off a miracle. But the 6-foot-9 Harris got a piece of Connor Notle’s inbounds pass and the ball went off the side of the backboard.
Harris ended with five blocks, to go along with his nine points and eight rebounds.
Robinson led Georgia with 11 points.
“I have to give South Carolina credit,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “I thought they played a little hungrier than we did tonight.”
The Bulldogs appeared to take control when Caldwell-Pope’s two foul shots gave them a 46-39 lead with 9:11 to go.
Cooke, though, got South Carolina’s rally started with a jumper and Ellington followed with a 3-pointer for his first basket of the game.
South Carolina tied it at 48-all on Cooke’s basket with 5:09 to go. The game was tied twice more before Robinson gave Georgia it’s final lead with three with 41.8 seconds left and set up the final frantic moments.