Caldwell-Pope’s key 3-pointer spurs Bulldogs to overtime victory against Gamecocks

Georgia finally got things to go its way down the stretch.

First it needed heroics from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and then had to survive a replayed final 4.5 seconds after officials put time back on the clock.

The sophomore guard drained a game-tying 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds left in regulation and the Bulldogs pulled away from South Carolina in overtime Saturday for a much-needed 62-54 win before 6,590 in Stegeman Coliseum.

“That’s probably the best one,” Caldwell-Pope said of where he would rank the 3-pointer of the more than 300 shots he’s made from the field in college. “Just taking us into overtime, that’s probably the best one I’ve had here so far.”

Caldwell-Pope, the Southeastern Conference’s second leading scorer, finished with a game-high 18 points despite being held scoreless in the first half for the second consecutive game.

Georgia (13-14, 7-7 SEC) snapped a three-game losing streak that included road losses at Ole Miss (when it wanted a foul called on a Donte’ Williams miss at the end of regulation) and Arkansas (when Vincent Williams’ runner before the buzzer was off).

Caldwell-Pope’s 3-pointer from the right wing came on a set play after a Georgia timeout.

“That shot gave us another life,” said freshman guard Charles Mann, who scored 14 points. “It was like an energy-booster. We all felt thankful and just wanted to win a game and finish it.”

The Bulldogs had to wait first after guard Bruce Ellington missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to seemingly send the game into overtime.

The officials spent several minutes huddling because the clock started running before the Gamecocks inbounded the ball after the Caldwell-Pope 3.

They eventually put 4.5 seconds back on the clock.

Ellington (team-high 11 points) had another try, but his 3-point attempt was blocked by Mann.

Official Anthony Jordan, the crew chief, said in a statement: “With 8.9 seconds left, the clock was erroneously started during a deadball situation. The difference from 8.9 seconds, when the basket was scored, and the time the South Carolina player received the ball was 4.5 seconds. By rule, it was clearly a correctable-error situation. We put the ball back in play, giving South Carolina the 4.5 seconds it had lost when the clock erroneously ran. The ball was placed on the baseline at the point closest to where he initially received the ball.”

Georgia coach Mark Fox said “when I look back, I don’t know why they got the ball back, but it was fair. I don’t know.”

He added: “I thought it was the ’72 Olympics all over again.”

That was a reference to the United State-Soviet Union game when the Soviets won the gold medal after three seconds were put back on the clock. Georgia escaped regulation and overtime after making 28 of 46 free throws and shooting 31.3 percent but held the Gamecocks to 30 percent shooting.

The Bulldogs were 0-3 in overtime games this year, losing at Ole Miss and at home against Youngstown State and Iona.

Fox said Caldwell-Pope looked “flat worn-out” after the Bulldogs’ Thursday-Saturday turnaround. It was hard to argue that after he missed all three free throws in the first half after being fouled on a 3-point try. He went 0-for-4 from the field in the first half.

“I had a little pain in my stomach,” Caldwell-Pope said of what he thought might have been food poisoning. “It was messing with me. That could be the reason. I should have just knocked down the free throws anyway.”

Caldwell-Pope didn’t get his first points of the game until he hit a pair of free throws with 17:55 left for a 28-18 lead.

In overtime, he scored on the baseline 50 seconds into the extra session and the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead.

Georgia led by as much as 10 in the second half and didn’t trail until 8:47 to go when Brian Richardson hit a 3-pointer to make it 39-38, and the Bulldogs fell behind by four with 1:43 to play.

“It was a great win,” Mann said. “The last two games have been rough. It was hard for us to sleep. We just had to move on, keep practicing and win this one.”

The Bulldogs outscored South Carolina (13-14, 3-11) 9-1 in overtime, holding South Carolina to 0 of 7 shooting.

Caldwell-Pope’s shot at the end of regulation was bigger than any in the extra period.

“We knew the play they were running and we fell asleep,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “Give him credit. It’s not like he made a 10-foot shot.”

Fox called the play during a timeout with 17 seconds left after Eric Smith hit two free throws for a 53-50 Gamecocks lead.

“We knew exactly what we were doing,” Fox said. “It’s a play we had in our arsenal and it was executed perfectly by our kids, and Kentavious made a big basket.”

Nemanja Djirisic inbounded the ball and Mann fed Caldwell-Pope, who came off a screen set by Djurisic and hit the shot.

“It’s definitely a big relief off our shoulders,” said freshman forward Brandon Morris, who had a career-high 11 rebounds and three points. “We showed a lot of heart.”

GEORGIA 62, SOUTH CAROLINA 54, OT

SOUTH CAROLINA (13-14)

Chatkevicius 1-8 1-2 3, Carrera 1-5 3-5 5, Jackson 4-8 1-2 9, Smith 0-7 3-6 3, Ellington 4-15 0-0 11, Williams 3-7 2-3 9, Richardson 3-6 0-0 8, Kacinas 2-4 1-2 5, Slawson 0-0 1-4 1. Totals 18-60 12-24 54.

GEORGIA (13-14)

D. Williams 1-4 3-5 5, Morris 0-3 3-7 3, Florveus 1-1 1-2 3, Caldwell-Pope 4-12 8-13 18, V. Williams 1-5 0-0 3, Mann 3-5 8-13 14, Dixon 2-4 1-2 5, Echols 0-0 0-0 0, Gaines 0-1 0-0 0, Brantley 0-7 0-0 0, Cannon 0-1 0-0 0, Djurisic 3-5 4-4 11. Totals 15-48 28-46 62.

Halftime — Georgia 23-16. End Of Regulation — Tied 53. 3-Point Goals — South Carolina 6-19 (Ellington 3-9, Richardson 2-4, Williams 1-3, Smith 0-1, Kacinas 0-1, Chatkevicius 0-1), Georgia 4-16 (Caldwell-Pope 2-8, V. Williams 1-1, Djurisic 1-2, Brantley 0-5). Fouled Out — Carrera, Jackson, Williams. Rebounds — South Carolina 39 (Chatkevicius 10), Georgia 47 (Morris 11). Assists — South Carolina 8 (Ellington 3), Georgia 9 (Caldwell-Pope 4). Total Fouls — South Carolina 29, Georgia 21. A — 6,590.

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