Georgia (21-10) beat South Carolina (17-16) by a dozen points, 74-62, to move onto the semifinals in the 2015 SEC Basketball Tournament.
After the injuries Georgia has suffered this year, with its position in the NCAA tournament secure and with the potential for a quick turnaround from a game that tipped off at approximately 10 p.m. ET for a semifinal the following day at 3:30 p.m. ET, this game had the potential to be one in which the Bulldogs had a lack of interest. Add in Ole Miss losing the previous day to South Carolina and costing Georgia the chance to add another top 50 RPI win to pad its NCAA tournament résumé, and this game felt like one that Mark Fox and Georgia would coast through and wouldn't be terribly upset about if it caused a quick return to Athens.
Instead, Georgia came out of the gates hot in the game's first 14 minutes and had a 10-point lead over South Carolina before going cold and being held without a field goal for the last six minutes of the first half. Georgia carried a seven-point lead into halftime via a 33-26 score, led by Marcus Thornton's eight points and five rebounds.
After halftime, Georgia extended their lead to 12, but would then go nine and a half minutes without a field goal, and South Carolina would fight back to take a 44-43 lead. The Gamecocks' second-half rally was led by Duane Notice, who scored a game-high 20 points, including 16 second-half points.
When Charles Mann went down with an apparent knee injury with 9:25 remaining, and Kenny Gaines limped off less than 45 seconds later, the bottom looked to be falling out for Georgia. Both returned shortly thereafter, but momentarily it appeared that Georgia fans' worst fear for this game was becoming a reality.
South Carolina played hard for the third straight night, and it wasn't until a deep three-pointer by Georgia's J.J. Frazier with 40 seconds remaining as the shot clock expired that the win was secured for the Bulldogs. Georgia finished with four scorers in double digits, led by Thornton's 15 points and a double-double off the bench for Yante Maten.
Georgia met their semifinal opponent, Arkansas, in their opening SEC game, with the Razorbacks winning 79-75 in Athens. The rematch for a berth in the SEC tournament final is at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, with the semifinals airing on ESPN.