Gamecocks’ seniors lead South Carolina past Georgia, 66-46
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Chris Silva had 24 points and 10 rebounds as South Carolina beat Georgia 66-46 on Saturday assuring the Gamecocks a double-bye into the quarterfinals of next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The dominating Silva came out after he was honored on Senior Day. He had 19 points and seven rebounds in the first half as South Carolina (16-15, 11-7) used an 18-1 run to turn a one-point deficit into a 30-14 lead with 7:30 left in the half and eventually a 23-point lead just before the break.
As Silva goes, often goes the Gamecocks. This was his sixth SEC game with 22 or more points. In four SEC games he has scored seven points or less. In last weekend’s loss to lowly Missouri, the 6-foot-nine All-SEC player last season did not pull down a single rebound.
A poor second half nearly spoiled the party. Georgia (11-20, 2-16) crawled back in it, trailing just 51-41 after E’Torrion Wilridge made one of two free throws with just over six minutes to go.
But South Carolina scored the next five points including a soaring dunk by Keyshawn Bryant with 4:55 to go in the game which finally pushed them over 10 points for the half.
Bryant added 14 points and Hassani Gravett added 12 after he was also honored on Senior Day.
Nicolas Claxton had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Derek Ogbeide added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia.
The Bulldogs shot just 26.2 percent (11 of 42) on Saturday after making just 25.5 percent (13 of 51) of their shots in Wednesday’s 64-39 loss to Missouri. Georgia is the 13th seed in the SEC Tournament and will play on the opening night of the five-day tournament for the second year in a row.
> The Gamecocks turned in one of their finest defensive performances of the season, holding Georgia to 26.2 percent shooting (11-for-42). Carolina forced 20 turnovers by the Bulldogs, who were just 5-of-20 (25.0 percent) from the floor the final 20 minutes.
> Seniors Chris Silva (24), Hassani Gravett (12) and Tre Campbell (11) combined for 47 of the team’s 66 points in their final games at Colonial Life Arena.
> Silva had 24 points and 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season (26th career) and seventh in SEC play.
> The three-year starter from Libreville, Gabon was 11-of-16 at the free throw line, his fifth game during the 2018-19 campaign (10th career) with 10 or more makes at the charity stripe.
> Silva started his 107th career game today, tying him with Mike Doyle (1977-80) for sixth all-time in program history.
> Freshman wing Keyshawn Bryant turned in another solid performance, scoring 14 points and pulling down five rebounds in 27 minutes.
> Gravett finished with 12 points, his 19th game this season (29th career) in double-figures. The Gamecocks are 9-3 in league games when he scores 10 or more. The SEC Sixth Man of the Year candidate averaged a career-best 12.9 points per game in league play.
> With its victory today, South Carolina secured the No. 4 seed and a double-bye in next week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville. It marks the third time in the last four seasons the Gamecocks have earned an automatic berth to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament (2016, 2017 and 2019).
> Today’s victory over the Bulldogs is the sixth-straight for the Gamecocks, the longest active win streak against any SEC opponent.
> Head coach Frank Martin has passed Dave Odom (2002-08) for third on the all-time wins list at South Carolina with his 129th victory as head coach.
> The Gamecocks have won 41 SEC games the past four seasons, and are one of four teams in the league to have 40 or more victories alongside Kentucky (54), Florida (43) and Tennessee (42).
South Carolina is off until the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament next Friday in Nashville, Tenn. at Bridgestone Arena. The Gamecocks will take on the winner of the fifth seed (Auburn) versus the 12/13 seed at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. Click here to view the full SEC Tournament bracket.