Mississippi State holds South Carolina at bay, 79-76

Mississippi State holds South Carolina at bay, 79-76
South Carolina drops to 16-10 on the season with a loss to Mississippi State on Wednesday (Source: USC Athletics)

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Nick Weatherspoon had 18 points and D.J. Stewart scored 16 as Mississippi State held off South Carolina 79-76 on Wednesday.

Abdul Ado had 14 points for the Bulldogs (17-9 overall, 8-5 in Southeastern Conference), while Reggie Perry had 10 points and 10 rebounds. It was Perry's 14th double-double of the season and the 23rd of his career.

Maik Kotsar's 24 points led South Carolina (16-10, 8-5), while Jermaine Couisnard had 17 points. A.J. Lawson also finished in double digits with 12 points for the Gamecocks.

After trailing by 11 points with under four minutes remaining, South Carolina had a furious comeback attempt in the closing seconds. Jair Bolden made a 3 pointer with 7 seconds left to close the deficit to 78-77. Mississippi State's Robert Woodard made one free throw with 6 seconds left and South Carolina did not get a potential game-tying shot off.

The opening minutes proved to be a back-and-forth affair that featured five lead changes and three ties. Mississippi State took a 17-12 lead following a Robert Woodard 3 pointer at the 10:09 mark of the first half. After the Bulldogs stretched the lead to 21-14, Kotsar responded with six straight points to cut the deficit to one.

Mississippi State answered with a 9-2 run, sparked by a Carter 3-pointer, and led 30-22 with 4:36 remaining in the half. The Bulldog led 36-27 at halftime, which was their largest lead of the half.

Mississippi State shot 44% in the first half and made 11 of 13 at the free-throw line. The Gamecocks shot 46% and missed 6 of 7 attempts beyond the arc. The Bulldogs held a 17-13 rebounding advantage at the half and both teams combined for 19 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.

KEY STATS

> Mississippi State shot 57.1 percent (12-for-21) in the second half.

> The Bulldogs were 28-for-36 (77.8) at the free throw line, doubling up the Gamecocks who were 14-for-19 (73.7 percent) at the charity stripe.

> Carolina shot it well overall, including 50 percent (17-for-34) from the field in the second half, but it was just 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) from deep tonight.

NOTABLES

> Senior forward Maik Kotsar continued his standout play with a season-high 24 points. He made a career-best 11 field goals, including seven-straight to start the game. Kotsar led the team in rebounds (7), assists (4) and steals (3) as well. Tonight marks his eighth game of the season (17th career) with three or more steals.

> Redshirt freshman point guard Jermaine Couisnard had 17 points, three assists and two steals. He matched a career-high with nine makes at the free throw line.

> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson was the final Gamecock in double figures with 12 points. He had seven rebounds as well, matching a season high for the third time in the 2019-20 campaign.

UP NEXT

Carolina opens up a two-game homestand on Saturday when it host LSU (18-8, 9-4 SEC) for a 6 p.m. ET matchup at Colonial Life Arena. The game will be Carolina’s “Pet Appreciation Day” with a fun halftime show provided by Flying Houndz Frizbee Trick Dog Show.