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FINAL: South Carolina downs Georgia 67-61 in the SEC opener.
— Gamecock MBB (@GamecockMBB) January 5, 2017
I could only pump sunshine for so long.
The Gamecocks (11-3) got a much-needed victory over rival Georgia, 67-61, on Wednesday night.
The win was Carolina’s first in five tries against the Bulldogs — going 0-3 against Mark Fox’s club in 2016.
More than their recent winless streak against the Dawgs, the Gamecocks saw their NCAA Tournament hopes take a serious hit as of late. Carolina went 3-3 in their last six games, dropping key non-conference tilts against Clemson and Seton Hall.
The win was just what the Gamecocks needed heading into conference play. Let’s just hope the team wasn’t out in downtown Athens celebrating a 1-0 SEC record after the game.
There was another big story on Wednesday night …
The Gamecocks got a major boost on Wednesday night with the return of guard Sindarius Thornwell.
The Lancaster, S.C., native notched his eighth career double-double, scoring 19 points to go with 11 boards, 6 steals and 3 blocks.
Frank Martin on Thornwell return"Sin is the back bone of our team.He gives a toughness.
He makes plays that others aren't willing to make pic.twitter.com/n0KNJGrdET
— Joe Cook (@JoeCookSports) January 5, 2017
While Thornwell was suspended from the team, fellow guard PJ Dozier picked up the slack. The sophomore guard’s scoring tear continued with a 24-point effort. Dozier now has six 20-point games in his last eight.
With a backcourt of the multi-threat Thornwell and next-level Dozier, I like the Gamecocks’ chances in conference play.
That being said, the three losses in December make the margin for error quite slim.
Reading the tea leaves
As discussed on Wednesday, prized Carolina commit Jamyest Williams will take an official visit to UGA between now and signing day.
I can’t and won’t wax poetic about how this is a normal part of the recruiting process and Williams is likely to ultimately come to Columbia.
However, I can over-analyze a tweet from Class of 2018 5-star DE Xavier Thomas: re: Williams …
— Connor Tapp (@MeetMeAtTapps) January 4, 2017
Thomas siding with the Gamecocks in this SEC East battle? I’ll take it.
Fish keeps swimming
I couldn’t help myself …
— John Brunelli (@JohnBrunelli) January 5, 2017
The Gamecocks’ former special teams ace and trick-kick extraordinaire has been quick to find his footing since leaving Columbia. Fish has founded his own clothing line, Crayton Davis Co., in his native Shelby, N.C.
“It eventually evolved into something bigger than we ever though it would,” Fish said. “I’m very excited to see what the future has in store for us.”
John Brunelli of the Shelby Star has a great story looking at Fish’s inspiration behind the brand and his plans moving forward.
Orth moves on
Not to be outdone, former QB Perry Orth also unveiled his post-Carolina plans on Wednesday as well …
— QB1 Ath1etics (@QB1_Ath1etics) January 5, 2017
With Orth taking freshmen QBs Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain under his wing, it’s no shock to see “Dad” move over to the coaching/training side.
Three Gamecocks transferring
Coach Will Muschamp announced on Wednesday that WR Jamari Smith, DB Jasper Sasser and RB David Williams would be leaving the program.
“All three of these student-athletes will have earned their degrees at the University of South Carolina,” Muschamp said in a statement. “We appreciate their contributions to the program and wish them the best in the future.”
All three players contributed in their time in Columbia, but with their respective graduations and the team’s ongoing youth movement, the exodus is no surprise.
Williams found himself in the doghouse early with Muschamp, but came around and found playing time in 2016 — really shining against East Carolina.
Bummed to see seniors leave a year of eligibility on the table, but completely understandable. Thanks for the memories, guys.
Conway Gamecocks vs. The World
I want to feign outrage over this, but Deebo Samuel’s made his name this season by being consistently overlooked. Bulletin board material for the Gamecocks’ standout received and jet sweep specialist …
Must have missed Deebo Samuel's performance in the Birmingham Bowl. Dude didn't even get an honorable mention. ? https://t.co/KYbhTgpP1U
— Hale McGranahan (@Hale_AJC) January 4, 2017