Carolina Falls to Georgia in SEC Quarterfinals

NASHVILLE, TENN. – Despite another gutsy effort, a shorthanded Carolina men’s basketball team fell in the quarterfinal round of the SEC tournament Friday night, losing to Georgia 74-62. In a final score that belied the drama of the night, the third-seeded Bulldogs outscored the Gamecocks by 12 over the final five minutes of regulation to squash the upset attempt. Duane Notice led all scorers with 20, including 16 in the second half. The team now sits at 17-16, while Georgia improves to 21-10 overall. Playing in its first game of the tournament, the Bulldogs showed fresh legs early on in the game, and took the early lead. Carolina tied the score at 14 with 12:16 still to play, but were outscored 15-5 in the ensuing six minutes of action. Georgia held an advantage in every major statistic in the first half, hitting 50 percent of its shots to go with a sizable rebounding margin. Marcus Thornton would lead all scorers with 10 points in the half. Carolina saw all eight rotation player score at least two points, but struggled from the field and made just 9-of-26 shots in the first 20 minutes (34.6 percent). Michael Carrera pitched in four points and four rebounds, and was one of four different players to reach the scoring mark for the Garnet and Black. The second half started on a much different note. A jumper from Marcus Thornton gave Georgia as 12-point lead, its biggest of the game, but a lengthy cold streak and a healthy dose of Notice would get the Gamecocks back into contention. The sophomore guard was on fire in the opening six minutes, hitting three straight 3-pointers and a pair of field goals. After going down by 12, Carolina went on an 18-7 run in just six minutes and took its first lead of the night on a jumper by Laimonas Chatkevicius with 11:40 still to go. Georgia was able to keep up with the blistering half from Notice, but not from the field. It made nine free throws in just over nine minutes to start the half, helping to overcome a nine-minute stretch without a field goal before a 3 by Nemanja Djurisic put the Dawgs ahead 50-47. The combination of tired legs and growing foul trouble would slow the comeback attempt, as Carrera joined Sindarius Thornwell with four fouls with seven minutes to go. The two were forced to risk it on the court, and Thornwell was able to keep the Bulldogs from pulling away again thanks to a pair of free throws and a three-point play two possessions later to tie the game back up at 57 with five minutes to go. Carolina was never able to retake the lead, and after a Notice layup to make it a 63-60 deficit with 2:25 to play, the Gamecocks finished 0-of-6 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free throw line for the rest of the game. Georgia finished with a 7-0 run in the last 41 seconds of regulation to pull away for the win.

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