Late free throws lift South Carolina past Georgia 61-55
COLUMBIA (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.
Georgia opens league tournament play against LSU on Wednesday. A win would pit the Bulldogs against Vanderbilt on Thursday.
South Carolina faces Ole Miss on Wednesday night in the opening round of the league tournament and the winner would face Missouri on Thursday.
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