South Carolina started this season with one of the longest win streaks in America. Frank Martin’s team got to 15-0 by Jan. 9.
Since then, with a schedule that’s been markedly tougher, USC is 8-7. And on Thursday night, the team’s seeding took a big hit with a home loss to 16-12 Georgia. South Carolina is the victim of a Dawgs season sweep.
Georgia won 74-72 after USC hit a few garbage baskets late. What makes the loss painful for the team is how they rallied to take a second-half lead, were up 55-50 and the under-8 timeout, then led 61-47 with four minutes remaining. But Mark Fox is still a very solid coach. UGA’s tactician watched as his two most important players, Kenny Gaines (20 points) and J.J. Frazier (19 points) lifted the Bulldogs to the win.
Georgia might be a solid spoiler in the SEC tournament next week. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team wound up in the conferences semis. Its starting five is among the five most talented in the conference.
South Carolina’s (23-7, 10-7) now gotta figure itself out. It hasn’t won three straight in almost two months. Its only win over a surefire NCAA Tournament team is against Texas A&M. The wins against Vandy, LSU and Florida are OK, but the league isn’t that strong. If USC is going to dodge being on the lower end of a 7-10 or 6-11 game, it will need two more wins, probably.
Next up is a tough ask: The Gamecocks close out the regular season on Saturday at Arkansas. The Hogs aren’t really good this season, but anyone in the SEC will tell you that Bud Walton Arena is a top-four toughest place to play in the conference. Winning there would go a long way to stabilizing USC.