‘No lesson to be learned today’ Frank Martin on loss to Tennessee
Who: South Carolina (10-10, 5-2 SEC) at Georgia (10-10, 1-6)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia area
Series: Georgia leads 58-54
Last meeting: Feb. 21, 2018 in Columbia — South Carolina 66, Georgia 57
KenPom prediction: Georgia 78, South Carolina 74
1. Skid-stopping opportunity
Sandwiched between games with SEC powers Tennessee and Kentucky comes Georgia for the Gamecocks.
The Bulldogs enter with the same overall record as South Carolina, but haven’t had nearly the SEC success, dropping league games by an average score of 80-62.
The Gamecocks haven’t lost three consecutive games since mid-December. A victory in Athens would be crucial considering next week’s trip to Lexington and the seventh-ranked Wildcats.
2. Bryant’s status
Frank Martin revealed Thursday night that Keyshawn Bryant (knee inury) didn’t practice that afternoon, meaning there’s a chance the Gamecocks are without their starting swingman against the Bulldogs.
USC has been down Justin Minaya at that small forward position since late November. There’s little depth there, but Martin does have options. Without Bryant, Carolina could go small and put Hassani Gravett in the starting lineup as a guard next to Tre Campbell. That would push A.J. Lawson to the wing. Or Felipe Haase could start at SF, leaving Gravett in his sixth man role.
Whatever the case, a Bryant absence would be a blow. The freshman’s athleticism has provided a spark to the Gamecocks in SEC play.
3. Free throw watch
The road hasn’t been kind to the Gamecocks over their last two trips in one specific area.
Losses at LSU and Oklahoma State came with the opposition taking 41 more free throws than South Carolina. The Gamecocks get 21.6 percent of their points off FTs — good for 52nd most in the country. It’s vital for USC to get to the line Saturday.
“Home and away game,” junior forward Maik Kotsar said Friday, “of course the atmosphere’s different, but overall it’s just basketball. It’s still the same. We have to attack the basket more, we got to be more aggressive to get to the foul line more.”
Georgia averages 23.5 free throws a game. South Carolina averages 22.9.
Coach: Tom Crean (366-241 in 19 seasons overall; first season at Georgia — 10-10)
Projected starters: G Turtle Jackson (5.6 points per game), G Tyree Crump (10.3), F Rayshaun Hammonds (13.0), F E’Torrion Wildridge (3.5), F Nicolas Claxton (12.9)
Last game: Lost to Arkansas, 70-60, on Tuesday on the road
KenPom ranking: 97 (No. 113 in offense efficiency, No. 106 in defense efficiency)
Notes: Georgia has announced that Saturday’s game is sold out. That’s four straight sellouts at Stegeman. ... After shooting 66.7 percent from the field in a win over Texas last Saturday, the Bulldogs made just 29.2 percent of their FGs in the Tuesday loss at Arkansas. ... UGA is last in the SEC in scoring defense (73.9 ppg).
Coach: Frank Martin (240-154 in 12 seasons overall; seventh season at USC — 123-100)
Projected starters: G Tre Campbell (6.0), G A.J. Lawson (13.0), F Keyshawn Bryant (9.1), F Chris Silva (13.9), F Maik Kotsar (8.5)
Last game: Lost to Tennessee 92-70 on Tuesday at home
KenPom ranking: 109 (No. 119 in offense efficiency, No. 115 in defense efficiency)
Notes: USC assistant Chuck Martin served on Crean’s staff at Indiana from 2014-17. ... Hassani Gravett’s five turnovers against Tennessee were a season-high and his most since last February against LSU. ... USC is next-to-last in the SEC in scoring defense (73.7 ppg).