Georgia men's basketball falls apart in loss to South Carolina

Kathryn Skeean | The Red & BlackGeorgia head coach Tom Crean yells from the bench. The University of Georgia men’s basketball team beat/fell to Samford 79-75 on Dec. 12, 2020, in Athens, Georgia.

The Georgia men’s basketball team lost to South Carolina 83-59 in Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina, on Wednesday. The Bulldogs’ lifeless performance continued a two-game losing streak and dropped their overall record to 9-6 (2-6 SEC). Here are some observations from The Red & Black.

Total collapse of the Dogs

Georgia may have traveled physically to Columbia, South Carolina, on Wednesday, but the Bulldogs seemed to leave all of their motivation in Athens.

Ahead of the matchup, head coach Tom Crean said Georgia “always responds well” to defeat and said the Bulldogs were working on improvements after their 92-84 home loss to Florida. In their first 10 minutes against South Carolina, it looked like that could’ve been the case.

Instead, a 24-point loss ensued.

“I didn’t say a lot to the team after the game,” Crean said in a virtual postgame press conference. “It’s not the time or place.”

Georgia’s lack of effort is obvious in its stat line. The Bulldogs shot a season-low 32%, making 21 of their 66 attempts, and sunk four of their 25 3-point shots. Their trend of second-half implosion also continued, allowing a 10-point halftime deficit to grow to as high as 31 points in the second.

Crean said when the shots didn’t fall, the Bulldogs grew quiet and frustrated. It’s been a common explanation following Georgia’s six SEC losses.

“The last thing I want them to lose is confidence,” Crean said. “But at the end of the day, the results are what they are. We’re not making those shots and it affects us on the other end. We’re not guarding the ball as well, and therefore we lose tonight.”

The Gamecocks (4-5, 2-3 SEC) weren’t exactly high-level competition, either. South Carolina came into Wednesday making 42% of its shots and saw 54% of them fall in the second half. Georgia, meanwhile, sunk 30% of its shots in the second.

The Bulldogs were also unable to fend off South Carolina’s Keyshawn Bryant, who recorded his fourth career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

3-point disaster

Georgia has been far from proficient from the 3-point line this season, averaging 32% before the South Carolina game. Wednesday night’s season-low of 15% was far from the already dismal expectation.

P.J. Horne missed all seven of his attempts from 3-point range. He averages 34%. Justin Kier missed four. He averages 40%. Without any production from two of the Bulldogs’ top performers from the arc, Crean doesn’t know where they can go.

“P.J. Horne and Justin Kier, those guys have to make [3-point shots] for us,” Crean said. “They just have to. Tonight, they didn’t. But they have to.”

Crean said the Bulldogs make shots in practice, and they wouldn’t take them otherwise. He said he didn’t want to debate on 3-point shots and they’ve improved. They just haven’t been better in the last two games.

For context, Georgia shot 30% from 3-point range in its loss to Florida on Saturday and 25% despite its win over Kentucky on Jan. 20.

“The bottom line is we’re not making them right now [and] we didn’t make them the other night,” Crean said. “That’s why we’ve got to get movement. We’ve got to make the next pass. We’ve got to get into the lane and drive and kick it. That’s part of how we have to play.”

What comes next?

Crean wants to give players like Tyron McMillan and Jonathan Ned more experience. He said McMillan gets an opportunity “every day” and would like to see him on the perimeter more often because he shoots well.

But Georgia falls into foul trouble quite often. When the Bulldogs are in the bonus, Crean said he likes to stay with more experienced players.

After earlier losses to Auburn and Florida, Crean said he wanted to explore lineup changes. It hasn’t come to fruition yet, but he said he will continue to consider the idea before the Bulldogs’ next meeting with Ole Miss on Saturday.

“I base a lot of things off practice and things differently like that,” Crean said. “[Lineup changes are] always going to be an open-ended situation for me.”

Printed with permission from The Red & Black independent student media organization based in Athens, Georgia;

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