South Carolina pulls away early, beats Georgia 75-59

South Carolina pulls away early, beats Georgia 75-59
AJ Lawson had 20 points as South Carolina picked up a win on the road over Georgia on Wednesday (Source: USA Today)

ATHENS, Ga. (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. Redshirt 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.

KEY STATS

> South Carolina opened the game on a 22-5 run the first 13 minutes, limiting Georgia to just one field goal in the stretch. The Gamecocks led comfortably from that point on, seeing the lead grow to as much as 23 in the second half.

> The Carolina defense held Georgia's high-powered offense in check, holding the Bulldogs almost 20 points below their season average of 76.8 points per game. Georgia also shot just 34.6 percent (18-of-52) opposed to its season average of 45.1 percent. The Bulldogs were just 3-of-24 (12.5 percent) from behind the arc.

> The Gamecocks were dominate inside with a +12 advantage on the boards (45-33) and a 40-22 points in the paint edge.

NOTABLES

> Sophomore AJ Lawson was efficient and effective on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 20 points while going 7-of-10 from the floor in just 23 minutes of action. It marks his sixth 20-point outing of the season and the 12th of his career.

> Redshirt freshman Jermaine Couisnard, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, scored 14 points with a team-high four assists. He was 3-of-6 from behind the arc, hitting two clutch 3s in the second half to halt Georgia runs.

> Sophomore Keyshawn Bryant had a solid game scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. It was his first time in double figures since scoring 15 in the victory vs. No. 10 Kentucky (1/15/20).

> Senior Maik Kotsar continued to stuff the stat sheet with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.

> Tonight's win marks the team's sixth true road win of the season, the most since the 2016-17 Final Four team, which also won six contests away from Colonial Life Arena.

> The Gamecocks have now won seven-straight matchups against the Bulldogs, with a perfect 4-0 record at Stegeman Coliseum the past four seasons.

> Carolina improves to 13-3 this season when scoring 70 or more points.

> The Gamecocks, who came into tonight's game leading the league (16th nationally) in field goal percentage defense, have now held 12 opponents below 40 percent shooting in the 2019-20 season (8-2 record when holding teams to less than 39 percent).

UP NEXT

The Gamecocks return to Colonial Life Arena on Saturday for a 6 p.m. ET matchup vs. Tennessee (14-10, 6-5 SEC). The contest will be Carolina’s Mike Slive Foundation game and also “The Office Night.” Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Pat Bradley (analyst) will have the call for the SEC Network broadcast from Colonial Life Arena.