COLUMBIA, S.C. – Craig Sword led the way with 26 points but it was not enough for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team Saturday night as it dropped a 81-68 decision to South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena.
MSU dropped its fourth straight to fall to 12-17 overall and 5-11 in league play. South Carolina improved to 14-14 and 5-11. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks are now in a two-way tie for 11th place in the conference standings with two games remaining.
“Defensively, we did not do the things we needed to do to be successful,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “Our identity has to be on the defensive end and we had too many lapses there on that end of the court.”
MSU scored the game’s first two baskets but then went better than five minutes without scoring again. South Carolina scored nine straight points and did not trail the rest of the way.
Tyrone Johnson, who scored a game-high 28 points for the Gamecocks, got his team going during that run.
The Bulldogs were within 16-11 after a layup by Sword. However, the Gamecocks put together a 9-2 run to take a 25-13 lead with 7:29 left in the half.
I.J. Ready hit back-to-baskets to keep the Bulldogs within striking range. MSU also got some good minutes from Demetrius Houston.
MSU shot 59.1 percent from the field in the first half but still trailed 39-31 at the intermission.
In the second half, a 9-0 South Carolina run allowed the Gamecocks to stretch the lead to 52-38 with 15:08 left. The Bulldogs would fall down by as many as 18 at 59-41 with 12:39 left.
Sword scored seven straight points helping the Bulldogs get back to a 74-65 deficit with 2:48 left. However, the Maroon and White would get no closer.
For the contest, MSU hit 22 of 46 shots from the field (46.8 percent), 5 of 15 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 19 of 29 shots from the foul line (65.5 percent). South Carolina hit 25 of 54 shots from the field (46.3 percent), 8 of 24 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 23 of 34 shots from the foul line (67.6 percent).
South Carolina held a 33-27 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 12 turnovers, while the Gamecocks had 19 assists and seven turnovers.
Gavin Ware had 10 points for MSU.
Laimonas Chatkevicius had 18 points and Duane Notice 13 points for South Carolina.
MSU plays at Vanderbilt at 8 Wednesday night on the SEC Network.
(From MSU Media Relations)