By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State gets a rubber match with South Carolina.
The Bulldogs will be the No. 13 seed for the SEC Tournament, which begins Wednesday at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. They’ll play the 12th-seeded Gamecocks for the third time this season.
MSU won the first meeting on Jan. 9 in Starkville, 56-54, then lost in Columbia on Wednesday, 79-72.
“Last time it was a gut match,” MSU forward Colin Borchert said. “They were being tougher than us, and that’s the one thing they’re coached to be, is they want to be tough. That’s what coach (Rick) Ray and everyone is trying to teach us here, is to be tough.”
MSU fell behind by 22 points in the second half in the last meeting but cut it to five with under three minutes to go. Ray said two things from that game did in the Bulldogs: 20 turnovers, and Brenton Williams’ 38 points.
Fix those, he said, “and I think we have a chance to beat them.”
Borchert’s big game
Borchert scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, his first career double-double at MSU. A week earlier, he scored a career-high 21 against Ole Miss.
“He was brought here on scholarship to be a skilled four,” Ray said, “and now you’re starting to see some of the things he can do offensively for us here in this stretch against Ole Miss, South Carolina and now.”
Player of the game
Borchert started hot, hit a lull, then finished strong. His 3-pointer with 17.5 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime.
“When the game gets tight like that, we play every possession like it’s our last possession.” – MSU guard Craig Sword on late-game defense