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Tuesday February 25th, 2020 1:42PM

South Carolina pulls away early, beats reeling Georgia 75-59

By Charles Odum
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ATHENS (AP) — AJ Lawson scored 20 points and South Carolina held Georgia to one field goal for the first 14 minutes to earn a runaway 75-59 win over the struggling Bulldogs on Wednesday night.

South Carolina (15-9, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) earned its seventh straight win in the series, including its fourth straight in Athens.

The Gamecocks, who have won five of their last six games, had four players score in double figures. Freshman Jermaine Couisnard had 14 points.

South Carolina led 27-5 before the Bulldogs' second field goal with less than six minutes remaining in the first half.

Georgia (12-12, 2-9) is 13th among 14 SEC teams and has lost seven of its last eight games, including three straight.

Anthony Edwards, the nation's top-scoring freshman with his average of 19.7 points per game, led Georgia with 16 points despite missing each of his seven 3-pointers. Edwards wasn't the only Georgia player to struggle with outside shots. Georgia made only 3 of 24 3s.

One game after the Bulldogs topped 100 points in a 105-102 overtime loss to Alabama, they suffered their lowest-scoring first half of the season. South Carolina led 38-20 at halftime, thanks to the Bulldogs' turnovers and poor shooting.

Rayshaun Hammonds finally gave Georgia its first field goal with 12:50 remaining in the half. The Bulldogs then suffered another seven-minute field-goal drought before Tye Fagan's basket with 5:40 remaining in the half.

South Carolina stretched its lead to 23 points, 49-26, on a three-point play by Couisnard early in the second half.

Georgia finally built some offensive momentum midway through the half. Donnell Gresham's four-point play cut the Gamecocks' lead to 55-41. Couisnard answered with a quick 3-pointer and South Carolina pushed the lead back over 20 points.

Former Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman gave Georgia fans a rare reason to cheer when he was introduced during a timeout and recognized for his role on the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl championship team. Georgia officials again appealed to football fans when coach Kirby Smart's six signees who enrolled in school early were introduced during another break.

THE BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: The Gamecocks, who had four players score in double figures, were dominant in almost every category when winning their second straight game since losing starting F Justin Minaya to a left thumb injury. South Carolina outrebounded Georgia 45-33, including nine by Alanzo Frink, and outscored the Bulldogs 40-22 in points in the paint.

Georgia: Coach Tom Crean identified his team's poor on-ball defense as a glaring weakness following the high-scoring loss to Alabama. This loss to the Gamecocks showed there are other glaring deficiencies, including on offense where 19 turnovers were a near-constant problem. South Carolina took a lopsided 25-4 advantage in points off turnovers. The Bulldogs' previous low for first-half points was 24 against both Texas A&M and Auburn.

UP NEXT

South Carolina returns home to play Tennessee on Saturday night.

Georgia will try for its second win over Texas A&M this month when it visits the Aggies on Saturday.

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