NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Georgia Bulldogs already had lost twice to South Carolina this season. They refused to add a third to that list.
Yante Maten scored six straight points down the stretch putting Georgia ahead to stay, and the third-seeded Bulldogs beat South Carolina 74-62 Friday night in the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
The last team to play thanks to a double bye, the Bulldogs (21-10) joined No. 21 Arkansas in avoiding the upset bug here. Not that it was easy against the Gamecocks who erased a 12-point Georgia lead in the second half. The Bulldogs put them away by finishing on a 17-5 run.
"I think we were a little disappointed with ourselves," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "I didn't have to get on them a lot in timeouts because they were getting on each other. And we just decided to close the game, and it was really encouraging."
Now the Bulldogs will play Arkansas in the semifinals Saturday afternoon, but they face a quick turnaround that may be too quick for Kenny Gaines to play. Fox said Gaines, who missed the regular season finale against Auburn with a sprained left ankle, had his foot stepped on.
"Will he be able to bounce back, after playing 27 minutes, tomorrow afternoon?" Fox said. "He's a tough rascal now, but I'm not sure. We'll have to see how much he swells and how he feels in the morning."
"Yante stepped up big time today," Thornton said. "It was great to get those contributions from him."
The 11th-seeded Gamecocks (17-16) snapped a three-game win streak.
"They attacked us on the inside and were real physical and made things real hard for us," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "Defensively, I thought they were phenomenal. They're one of the better defensive teams in the country for a reason. But real proud of our guys."
Georgia tried to take advantage of the double bye to rest up Gaines' and was as healthy as the Bulldogs had been in a while.
The Bulldogs led 33-26 at halftime and by as much as 12 early in the second half only to see South Carolina use a 15-3 run to take a 44-43 lead that was the Gamecocks' first since the opening bucket of the game. The Bulldogs went cold after a jumper by Thornton within the first couple minutes of the half and didn't hit another field goal for 9 minutes, 19 seconds when Djurisic hit a 3-pointer for a 50-47 lead.
Georgia took the lead back with an 8-2 spurt. South Carolina answered with six straight points tying it up for the seventh and last time at 57 with 5:23 left on a three-point play by Thornwell.
That's when Maten, the freshman from Michigan, took over. He hit two free throws, then a layup and his dunk with 2:57 left pushed Georgia's lead back out. South Carolina couldn't get closer than three the rest of the way.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks had won four of their last five. ... They were trying to reach the program's first semifinal since 2006.
Georgia: The Bulldogs now have won five of their last six with the lone loss to No. 1 and top-seeded Kentucky. ... The Bulldogs ranked second in the SEC and 15th nationally in total free throw attempts and third in the SEC making them. They went 23 of 29 against the Gamecocks.
INJURY UPDATE: Mann went down just past the midpoint of the second half near and grabbed at his left knee. But he returned. Guard Juwan Parker didn't play because of a sore Achilles. "We're just thin, and we can't afford too many more nicks. But fortunately those kids both dug in and fought through it," Fox said.
South Carolina: A call from the NIT?
Georgia: Semifinal Saturday against No. 21 Arkansas