COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Meechie Johnson scored 18 points and Jacobi Wright had 14 and the pair combined for five free throws in the last 3.6 seconds to give South Carolina a 61-55 win over Georgia on Saturday to close the regular season.
Johnson made 1 of 2 free throws with 7.6 seconds to go for a 56-53 lead for the Gamecocks, who chose to intentionally foul before the Bulldogs could attempt a tying 3-pointer.
Justin Hill converted the one-and-one for Georgia at 4.6 seconds — giving him 1,001 points for his career — but on the inbounds, as Terry Roberts fouled Wright, Roberts was given a technical for grabbing Wright’s foot after the whistle.
Wright made three of the four free throws to make it 59-55 and Johnson was fouled on the ensuing possession with his free throws at 2.1 seconds making it the biggest lead for either team in the second half.
Hayden Brown scored 13 points for the Gamecocks (11-20, 4-14 SEC), who snapped a three-game losing streak with their first home SEC win. Josh Gray had 11 rebounds and Johnson had seven assists.
Roberts had 14 points for the Bulldogs (16-15, 6-12), who have lost five straight, and Braele Bridges had 12.
It was a fitting game for teams that will be the 11th (Georgia) and 12th seeds (South Carolina) for opening-round games of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday in Nashville, as well as teams that produced a close first game, won by the Bulldogs 81-78 in overtime to snap a 12-game losing streak in the series.
Johnson’s layup to open the scoring in the second half tied it at 27 and then Georgia scored four. The teams traded baskets before the Gamecocks scored six and from the 16:24 mark neither team would lead by more than two until Johnson’s free throw at 7.6 seconds.
- South Carolina made five of their final six free throw attempts over the final three seconds of the game. Jacobi Wright knocked down three and Meechie Johnson made two securing the Gamecocks first SEC home victory this season.
- Meechie Johnson had a game-high 18 leading all scorers. He also led the Gamecocks with seven assists. It is Johnson’s 19th game in double figures, 8th game leading the team in scoring, 21st game with three plus assists, and his 18th game leading the team in assists.
- Three players scored in double figures for Carolina: Johnson (18), Jacobi Wright (14), and Hayden Brown (13).
- Hayden Brown, who was the lone Gamecock honored for Senior Day today, locked up his 83rd career game scoring in double figures with his 13 points. Brown shot 50.0 percent (5-of-10) from the field and grabbed five rebounds in his final collegiate regular season game.
- Josh Gray led the Gamecocks with a game-high 13 rebounds. It is his 8th game with double digit rebounds, and his 14th game leading the team in boards.
- Carolina had a plus 15 margin on the glass 40-25 – a 24-17, margin on the defensive end, and a 16-8, advantage on the offensive end.
- Carolina held Georgia to just 21.7 percent (5-for-21) from three.
- The win against the Bulldogs marks Carolina’s first SEC home victory this season and the first SEC win at Colonial Life Arena for coach Lamont Paris.
- South Carolina has now won 13 of the last 14 against Georgia and now leads the all-time series 63-59.
- With the win Carolina locks up the No. 12 seed for the SEC tournament in Nashville next week.
Carolina (11-20, 4-14 SEC) heads to the SEC Tournament in Nashville. The Gamecocks will face Ole Miss (11-19, 3-14 SEC) in the 12-13 game at 7 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Tom Hart (pxp), Daymeon Fishback (analyst) and Alyssa Lang (sideline) will be on the call for the game.