Originally created 01/19/98

Gamecocks keep muzzle on Bulldogs



ATHENS, Ga. -- Perhaps Ron Jirsa should have broken out his credit card for the final 9:59 of Sunday's Southeastern Conference tilt with 14th-ranked South Carolina.

Somebody needed to get the Bulldogs to make a charge.

As it was, Georgia managed just two buckets over what turned out to be the deciding stretch and dropped its fifth straight game, a disappointing 68-60 decision to the Gamecocks in front of a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 9,495 fans.

The Bulldogs (8-8, 0-4) have now lost their first four SEC games for the first time since 1977.

"In the second (half) we didn't make the plays. We need somebody to step up and make plays in the second half when the game's on the line," Jirsa said. "I understand in this league there's going to be close games, but we've still got to make big plays down the stretch and we didn't do that."

In what has been a disappointing three-week stretch of games for the Dogs, Sunday's performance was anything but pretty. Georgia made only 2-of-15 shots from the field in the final 9:59 and both of those followed missed baskets, including one by Ray Harrison at the buzzer to account for the final score.

Georgia, which shot only 37 percent (20-of-54), was led by G.G. Smith with 15 points and Jumaine Jones with 14. Harrison, the Bulldogs' top scorer, managed only four points.

South Carolina was only 20-of48 (42 percent) but won the game with free-throw shooting and rebounding. Leading scorer BJ McKie, who finished with 24 points, was 5-of-15 from the field, collecting most of his total by making 11 of 13 free throws. He hit four in a row over the final 19 seconds to seal the victory.

"We're doing a lot of standing around, weren't moving as well as should have been," Bulldog Derrick Dukes said. "We just had lapses in the second half and that's something we've just got to keep working on."

To their credit, the Dogs still managed to stay close.

A pair of free throws by Larry Brown pulled Georgia within 58-57 with five minutes left, but both teams struggled at the offensive end the rest of the way. Gamecock William Gallman hit a short bank shot with 3:28 to play -- South Carolina's final bucket.

Jones hit a free throw to cut the gap to 60-58, but South Carolina (11-3, 3-2) held the ball for more than a minute by snaring two straight offensive rebounds before Melvin Watson was finally fouled and hit one free throw.

The Gamecocks led 62-58 when the Bulldogs squandered their final chance after Harrison missed a 3-pointer and Smith later dribbled the ball off his foot. McKie picked up the loose ball and drove the length of the court, before getting fouled intentionally by Brown with 19 seconds to go.

"This was a good win," South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler said. "You have to win on the road to some degree to stay in the SEC race, although Kentucky looks like the dominant team right now. Georgia struggled shooting the ball, and I hope our defense had something to do with that."

Melvin Watson was the only other Gamecock in double figures with 12 points. Jones added 14 for the Dogs, who will look to break their current losing streak Wednesday night at Mississippi State.

"Confidence is always a problem when you've lost five games in a row," Smith said. "I thought we had a couple of good practices and everybody was enthused. We believed we could come out and win. But believing and having confidence are two different things."



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