COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Chris Silva had 24 points and 10 rebounds as South Carolina beat Georgia 66-46 on Saturday assuring the Gamecocks a double-bye into the quarterfinals of next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The dominating Silva came out after he was honored on Senior Day. He had 19 points and seven rebounds in the first half as South Carolina (16-15, 11-7) used an 18-1 run to turn a one-point deficit into a 30-14 lead with 7:30 left in the half and eventually a 23-point lead just before the break.
As Silva goes, often goes the Gamecocks. This was his sixth SEC game with 22 or more points. In four SEC games he has scored seven points or less. In last weekend’s loss to lowly Missouri, the 6-foot-nine All-SEC player last season did not pull down a single rebound.
A poor second half nearly spoiled the party. Georgia (11-20, 2-16) crawled back in it, trailing just 51-41 after E’Torrion Wilridge made one of two free throws with just over six minutes to go.
But South Carolina scored the next five points including a soaring dunk by Keyshawn Bryant with 4:55 to go in the game which finally pushed them over 10 points for the half.
Bryant added 14 points and Hassani Gravett added 12 after he was also honored on Senior Day.
Nicolas Claxton had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Derek Ogbeide added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia.
The Bulldogs shot just 26.2 percent (11 of 42) on Saturday after making just 25.5 percent (13 of 51) of their shots in Wednesday’s 64-39 loss to Missouri. Georgia is the 13th seed in the SEC Tournament and will play on the opening night of the five-day tournament for the second year in a row.
Georgia: The Bulldogs’ 16 SEC losses are the most ever, matching the 1973-74 team, which also went 2-16 in the league. Only once has Georgia won fewer SEC games, going 1-13 in 1955-56. Georgia will likely lose its 21st game sometime next week at the SEC Tournament, which would be the most losses for the Bulldogs since that 1955-56 team also lost 21 games. For Georgia fans, it’s only 175 days until the 2019 football opener at Vanderbilt.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks now have finished in the top four in the SEC for the third time in four seasons, but unless they get the league’s automatic bid by winning next week’s SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks will likely have just one NCAA bid over that time (the 2017 run to the Final Four). And winning the SEC Tournament may be a tall task for South Carolina, who is 1-5 against the top five teams in the league (LSU, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi State).
Georgia: The Bulldogs are the 13th seed and play Wednesday in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are the fourth seed and get a double-bye to Friday’s SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
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