Free throws and rebounding.
Those are the two statistics that hurt Georgia the most over the course of its 64-57 home loss to South Carolina. Rarely does a team go on the road and win a game while shooting only 27.1 percent from the field like the Gamecocks did. But thanks to early rebounding woes and a late struggle at the free-throw line, the Bulldogs found themselves on the losing end of a game that they had every chance to win.
In the first half, rebounding the ball proved difficult, especially when South Carolina (11-6, 2-3 SEC) had possession. The Gamecocks threw up 13 3-point shots in the opening period and converted on only three of them. With South Carolina clanking so many shots off of the iron early, plenty of rebounds went long.
Georgia head coach Mark Fox said his team's guards did not do a good job of cleaning up those misses that bounced out of the frontcourt's reach.
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"They have a strong and physical front line, as do we," Fox said. "As those guys are locked up while the ball is in the air, the perimeter players have to chase down the long rebounds. At the half, I think our perimeter guys had a total of three defensive rebounds. We did a little better job in the second half but we dug ourselves a hole."
On top of that, forward Yante Maten admitted there were some plays he assumed Georgia (11-5, 2-3) would come down with the rebound. He placed blame on himself for South Carolina ending the first half with a 24-15 rebounding advantage, which included coming down with 13 offensive rebounds.
"We knew they were going long and we tried to get in the spot," Maten said. "But there were a couple of bad bounces. At the end of the day it's going to come down to who wants it more. I personally put that on me. I know I let up on a lot of rebounds."
Georgia cleaned up the rebounding issues in the second half with 29 of its 42 rebounds coming over the final 20 minutes. But while the Bulldogs did a better job in this facet of the game, they were let down by their performance at the free-throw line.
After going 8-of-9 from the line in the first half, Georgia made only 10 of its 19 free throws in the second half.
"It was another factor that impacted us heavily," Ogbeide said. "Several opportunities in which to turn the game in any certain way. It's just another thing in the book of pointers that we had. It impacted us in the long run and at the end of the game. It's something to look to and something to work on."
Said Maten: "We didn't convert from the free-throw line either. In a close game like that, it can play a big role and a difference in the outcome of a game."
Georgia held South Carolina to 25 percent from 3-point range and blocked nine of their shots. The Gamecocks made only six field goals in the second half.
Rebounding and free-throw shooting, however, proved to be too much for the Bulldogs to overcome.
"We anticipated that it would be a slugfest," Fox said. "When you have a game like that you have to do things like rebound and make free throws to win. We didn't do that."