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Feb. 28, 2015

Final Stats | USATSI Photo Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif | Photo Gallery 2 media-icon-photogallery.gif | Photo Gallery 3 media-icon-photogallery.gif | Quotes

Team 1st 2nd Total
Mississippi State 31 37 68
South Carolina 39 42 81
Coach Martin
Laimonas Chatkevicius and Tyrone Johnson

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind a career high 28 points from senior guard Tyrone Johnson, the Gamecocks posted an 81-68 victory over Mississippi State (12-17, 5-11 SEC) on Saturday night at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina (14-14, 5-11 SEC) shot 46.3 percent (25-54) from the field in the victory, its highest percentage in 12 games. Junior forward Laimonas Chatkevicius matched a career high with 18 points in the win, and the duo of Johnson and Chatkevicius scored a combined 33 of Carolina’s 42 second-half points.

A slow six minutes to begin the game soon gave way to an offensive shootout as the two teams combined for 70 points in the first half. A jumper from Tyrone Johnson gave Carolina a 9-4 lead after Mississippi State scored the game’s first four points, but the Bulldogs would ignite from the field over the next 11 minutes. MSU made 11-of-14 shots in that span, but would still be unable to take the lead back from an equally accurate Gamecock squad.

Six 3-pointers in the first half alone would be the difference as Carolina brought a 39-31 lead to halftime. Duane Notice would make three, matching Mississippi State’s entire team output, and Sindarius Thornwell hit a pair to lead the way. The team’s starting five combined for 35 first-half points, led by Notice’s nine. Both teams made half of its shots or better in the first 20 minutes, with the Bulldogs hitting 59 percent to Carolina’s 50 percent.

Early in the second half, Notice hit his fourth 3 of the contest to extend Carolina’s lead to nine at 42-32. Shortly after, a technical foul was called on the Gamecocks and the Bulldogs would connect on 3-of-4 from the foul line to pull within five at 43-38 with 17:38 remaining in the half.

Three lay-ups from Chatkevicius and a pair of free throws from Mindaugas Kacinas would give the Gamecocks a 12-point advantage at 50-38 with just over 15 minutes remaining.

The Carolina lead would balloon to as many as 18 points at 59-41 with 12:39 remaining, but the Bulldogs would continue to battle, closing the lead to 12 behind a layup and two free throws from Craig Sword, and another two at the line from Travis Daniels.

Johnson and Chatkevicius would combine to score the next 11 Carolina points and the Gamecocks would hold a 70-53 lead with 6:23 remaining.

MSU’s Sword would answer the duo’s run, however, with a seven-point swing of his own to pull the Bulldogs within 11 at 7-61 with 4:14 to play.

The teams would trade made baskets over the course of the next two minutes, and a 3 from Sword would pull the Bulldogs within nine at 74-65 with 2:44 to play. The Gamecocks would hold their lead, hitting 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minutes, including a 6-of-6 effort from Johnson, to close the 81-68 victory.

Sword led MSU with 26 points, hitting 10-of-14 from the field. Gavin Ware also scored 10 points for the Bulldogs.


Leading by five early in the second half, Chatkevicius would score on three-straight lay-ups and Kacinas would add two free throws during the stretch to push the Gamecock lead to 14 points. The Gamecocks would lead by at least nine the remainder of the game.

KEY STAT South Carolina hit 46.3 (25-54) percent from the floor in the victory over the Bulldogs, its highest percentage since hitting 50.0 (26-52) percent from the field vs. Auburn on Jan. 17.


  • Rookie guard Marcus Stroman missed Saturday’s game after experiencing recurring symptoms of a throat infection.
  • Junior forward Laimonas Chatkevicius hit his career high for the second straight game with 18 points vs. Mississippi State. Also for the second straight game, he came just one rebound shy of a double-double, collecting nine.
  • Senior guard Tyrone Johnson scored a career high 28 points, marking his third-career 20-point outing. Johnson scored 22 of those points in the second half, fueled by an 11-of-12 effort from the free throw line.
  • South Carolina’s 81 points vs. Mississippi State was the most in an SEC game this season, and the most since scoring 91 vs. NC A&T on Dec. 30.
  • Sophomore guard Duane Notice dished a team high five assists to go along with 13 points vs. the Bulldogs. The five assists marked the fourth time this season he has hit the mark, and his 13 points marked his 16th double-figure scoring game of the year and the fourth-straight game he has reached double-digits.
  • QUOTABLE South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin

    Opening Statement
    “I’m proud of our guys, to come out and play well at home. We challenged our three guards after the Alabama game because we didn’t think they were very aggressive, not just in shooting the ball, but just aggressive on offense. They fought defensively and they want to win but we weren’t aggressive and those three guards have to be aggressive to be good and all three came out today and responded. I’m happy as heck for Ty [Johnson]. To deal with the ball pressure that they put on you, the variety of presses and to only have one turnover, take care of that ball and set a career high in your second-to-last home game, that’s what you want from seniors. We challenged them after Alabama and when players respond to challenges that means that’s why they’re good players.”


    South Carolina will host No. 18/16 Arkansas on Thursday, March 5, on Senior Night. The Gamecocks will honor senior guard Tyrone Johnson, junior guard Austin Constable, and senior manager Reggie Gallant prior to the matchup vs. the Razorbacks. The meeting vs. Arkansas will be the second 2015 matchup between the two schools. The Razorbacks posted a 75-55 win at Bud Walton Arena on Feb. 3. The matchup will be broadcast on ESPN2.