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Georgia's Anthony Edwards reacts to hitting back-to-back 3-pointers against Kentucky during the team's NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in Athens, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Gamecocks take on Bulldogs in midweek matchup

A midweek matchup between Georgia and South Carolina will emphasize the differences in seasons the two schools have endured in the 2019-20 basketball season.

Even though both teams were projected to finish in the bottom half of the Southeastern Conference entering the season, the Gamecocks are on the verge of being top-4 in the conference with a win.

Exceeding Expectations

For South Carolina, they have struggled to put together a strong season since their 2017 Final Four run.

Consecutive 16-loss seasons after their 26-11 season in 2016-17 have put head coach Frank Martin on the hot seat.

However, a couple of shock wins have put the Gamecocks in a fight to make the big dance. The Gamecocks will try to add to their resume with a midweek-road win over a projected-lottery pick for the 2020 NBA draft, Anthony Edwards.

https://twitter.com/GamecockMBB/status/1227604267151826944

For South Carolina, their guard-play will have to keep up with Anthony Edwards. Underclassmen Jermaine Couisinard and A.J. Lawson lead the scoring charge for the Gamecocks, putting up a combined 25.5 points per game.

Beyond the guards, Forward Maik Kotsar will faceoff with Georgia’s Rayshaun Hammonds, Georgia’s second-leading scorer. the senior from Estonia currently boasts 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in just under 30 minutes of game time on average.

Overall, the midweek battle is a chance for South Carolina to overtake Florida for the fourth spot in the SEC. Both teams currently have a record of 6-4 in the conference and 14-9 overall. Florida currently owns the tie-breaker after beating South Carolina in early January.

One-Man Show?

Georgia has relied on Anthony Edwards in a variety of ways this year.

Georgia’s Anthony Edwards (5) shoots against Mississippi during an NCAA college basketball game in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

The No. 2 overall prospect in the 2019 class, according to 247Sports, plays over four minutes more than any other player on the Georgia roster. The shooting guard has put up a stat line of 19.7-5.5-3.0 on average in his 23 games played this season.

In the words of opposing coaches, he is a force to play against.

“He’s fantastic. What a talent,” Florida Head Coach Mike White said of the SG. “One of the best talents that I’ve ever witnessed in this league at his age.”

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari said that Edwards scoring 23 against his wildcats was shows his talents. “He still gets baskets,” Calipari said. “It tells you how good he is.”

Edwards currently sits at second in the SEC in PPG, 38th in all of college basketball.

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This midweek game against South Carolina represents Georgia’s final push to possibly make it into postseason play.

Currently sitting at 2-8 in SEC play with a 12-11 overall record, rattling off wins could push their record to 17 or 18 wins, which is usually enough to grant NIT Tournament action to an SEC team. For example, Alabama was a 1-seed in the NIT last year with a regular-season record of 17-14.

Georgia will look for help from Forward Rayshaun Hammonds, team leader in rebounds per game (7.3), and Guard Sahvir Wheeler, team-leader in assists per game (4.5), to split the scoring and keep up with South Carolina’s balanced scoring.

Tip-Off

The game is set to tip-off at 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.

About Kyle Fansler

Originally from Seminole in the Tampa Bay area, Kyle is a contributor for ESPN Gainesville as well as local NPR and PBS affiliate WUFT. Kyle wants to get into sports with a lofty dream of being a sports broadcaster. He was raised playing soccer and baseball while watching hockey and football, so the knowledge about various sports is fairly extensive.

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