By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Today will mark the final appearance for seniors Colin Borchert and Tyson Cunningham at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Mississippi State seniors close out the regular season at 3 p.m. against South Carolina hoping to snap a season-long 12-game losing skid. Borchert and Cunningham will be honored in a pre-game ceremony but head coach Rick Ray wants the focus to be about basketball.
“There are still things at hand,” Ray said. “You have to make sure you don’t get so wrapped up in senior day. You still have a game to play and guys have to go out and execute. Our approach is still going to stay the same. We may have only eight scholarship guys but we’re still going to go out and try to win the ball game and I think that’s the mindset I think our guys will have.”
The Bulldogs enter today’s regular season finale at 13-17 overall and 3-14 in league play. MSU is in last place in the Southeastern Conference standings one game behind the Gamecocks, who are 4-13 and 11-19 overall.
A win would give State a 13th place finish in the conference for a second straight year.
The Bulldogs have had success against South Carolina of late winning eight of the last 10 meetings. State leads the all-time series 18-9 including a 9-2 mark in Starkville.
The two teams met three times last season with the Bulldogs winning two of those matchup. Mississippi State edged the Gamecocks 56-54 at Humphrey Coliseum before falling 79-72 in Columbia. The Bulldogs eliminated South Carolina in the first round of the SEC Tournament 70-59.
Sophomore shooting guard Craig Sword averaged 14.7 points in three games against the Gamecocks last year and continues to lead MSU with 13.2 points per game this season.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 66-45 loss at Georgia on Wednesday, their 18th consecutive road loss.
South Carolina enters this afternoon’s game having lost four of its last five outings. The Gamecocks upset No. 17 Kentucky at home 72-67 last weekend but suffered a 72-46 setback to No. 1 Florida on Wednesday.
“The first thing that jumps out to you is their toughness,” Ray said. “They are going to be a team that goes out and will make it a physical ball game. You’ve got to be prepared for that. Frank Martin has always coached his guys to be tough. They are going to be a tough, physical ball club and if you not prepared to go out there and battle then you’re going to have a tough time against South Carolina.”
Martin will not be on the Gamecocks bench today while serving a one game suspension for “inappropriate verbal communication as it relates to the well-being of our student athletes” from the university.
The backcourt duo of Brenton Williams and Sindarius Thornwell leads South Carolina with 14.8 and 13.3 points per game respectively.