Top-ranked Gamecocks dominate No. 22 Georgia, 58-35

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Players' hands shot up when South Carolina coach Dawn Staley asked before Thursday night's game against Georgia how many were thinking of the upcoming game at Connecticut.

Staley reminded the Gamecocks to focus first on Georgia. Her players listened to the warning.

Bianca Cuevas scored 16 points and top-ranked South Carolina protected its undefeated record by beating No. 22 Georgia 58-35 to set up the much-anticipated matchup of the nation's top teams.

South Carolina (22-0, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) plays at No. 2 UConn on Monday night.

Jatarie White, who had five points, seven rebounds and two blocks, said players knew not to look ahead.

''Of course we raised our hand but we know that we needed to take care of this game before we could actually start concentrating and putting our focus on UConn,'' White said.

White said Staley's message was ''We'll focus on UConn when it comes.''

Tiffany Mitchell had 14 points for the Gamecocks.

Georgia (17-6, 5-5) has lost three straight - all to Top 10 teams.

Georgia starting forward Krista Donald, the team's leading rebounder, was suspended for the game for an undisclosed violation of team rules in another blow to the squad's depth. The Lady Bulldogs lost scoring leader Shacobia Barbee to a season-ending leg injury Jan. 25.

The Gamecocks also were missing their leading rebounder. Sophomore center Alaina Coates also was suspended for a violation of team rules.

Staley said Coates, who participated in pregame warmups, will return against UConn.

''She's back,'' Staley said. ''She served her time and we'll keep moving.''

Cuevas, a freshman, led South Carolina in scoring while playing 20 minutes off the bench.

Georgia coach Andy Landers said Cuevas was the ''x factor.''

''Believe it or not, that's the way I had it on the board,'' Landers said. ''Watching tape in preparation for the game, she's gotten better and better. ... I told the kids before the game that she's no joke, this kid is for real. I put her on the board in a different color than everybody else.''

Despite the warning from Landers, Georgia couldn't contain Cuevas, who made two 3-pointers and had two steals.

Aleighsa Welch had two points, 14 rebounds and three of the Gamecocks' 10 blocked shots, which matched their season high.

Georgia freshman Mackenzie Engram had eight points in her first start, including the game's first basket. It was the Lady Bulldogs' only lead.

TIP-INS

South Carolina: The Gamecocks improved to only 3-15 at Stegeman Coliseum but have won four straight overall in the series. ... Elem Ibiam had eight points, three rebounds and two blocks before fouling out. ... The team-record 22 straight wins ties the longest streak for any South Carolina sport. The Gamecocks' 2000 baseball and 1979-80 women's tennis teams also had 22 consecutive wins.

Georgia: Georgia made only 5 of 28 shots from the field (17.9 percent) while setting a season low with 14 first-half points. ... Donald leads the team with 7.0 rebounds per game. ... Georgia has never beaten a top-ranked team in seven tries at home and fell to 3-17 overall against No. 1 teams. ... Georgia's 18-game home winning streak ended, included a 12-0 record in Athens this season. ... Haley Clark had eight points.

MOMENT OF SILENCE

There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims of Thursday's shooting on the South Carolina campus.

''I think it was probably best that we were on the road when that was going on,'' Staley said. ''... Our hearts and prayers go out to everybody who was affected by what happened on our campus today.''

DEFENSE

No team has scored more than 63 points against the Gamecocks, and only two have shot over 40 percent from the field. Georgia didn't come close to either mark as it shot 21 percent (12 of 58).

''Our defense has gotten better each and every time we've stepped on the floor,'' Staley said.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: Visits No. 2 Connecticut on Monday night.

Georgia: Visits Arkansas on Monday night.

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