Feb. 11, 2017
STARKVILLE, Miss. — No. 19/16 South Carolina (20-5, 10-2 SEC) notched its 20th win of the season Saturday night after topping Mississippi State (14-10, 5-7 SEC) on the road in conference play. With the victory, the Gamecocks remain tied for first in the SEC with No. 15/12 Kentucky and No. 17/17 Florida. Senior Sindarius Thornwell led all scorers with 28 points for his 10th 20-plus outing of the season.
Thornwell, who was coming off a career-high 44 points vs. Alabama, started the game 4-for-4 (2-for-2 from 3) with 10 points as Carolina jumped out to a 10-2 lead, forcing a timeout by Bulldogs head coach Ben Howland with 17:02 to go. The Gamecocks remained in front 12-5 at the first media timeout with 15:11 left in the opening half.
A 6-2 run by Mississippi State trimmed Carolina’s lead to 14-11 at the next media timeout with 11:26 left. Thornwell’s third 3 of the game snapped an 0-for-7 field goal draught for the Gamecocks and put them ahead 17-14. The Bulldogs grabbed their first lead of the game, 20-17, after capping a 15-3 run with a 3 just before the under eight media timeout with 7:52 on the clock.
Mississippi State’s seventh 3-pointer of the first half gave them its biggest lead, 31-24, forcing a timeout by head coach Frank Martin with 3:21 left.
Carolina ended the half on a 12-5 run out of the timeout. Thornwell found senior Justin McKie in the corner on the Gamecocks’ final possession, and McKie knocked down a 3 as time expired to tie the score 36-36 at the half.
Thornwell led all scorers with 19 points in the first half after going 6-for-10 from the field and 3-for-4 from behind the arc. Carolina shot 12-for-27 (44 percent) from the floor and the Bulldogs shot 13-for-25 (52 percent) in the first half. Both teams shot it extremely well from deep, as the Gamecocks were 5-for-10 (50 percent) from 3 and Mississippi State was 8-for-15 (53 percent).
Carolina started the second half on a 7-0 run to push in front 43-36. The Bulldogs clawed back within two, 46-44, at the first media timeout of the second half with 15:41 left. The Gamecocks remained in front, 54-51, at the under 12 media timeout with 10:56 to go in the ballgame.
Mississippi State grabbed its first lead of the second half, 56-54, after a 3 by Xavian Stapleton with 9:36 on the clock. Carolina answered to take the lead back, 59-58, at the under 8 media timeout with 7:38 left after an and-1 by sophomore Chris Silva and a layup by McKie.
The Bulldogs then retook the lead, 64-63, but the Gamecocks responded again after a 3 by senior Duane Notice and a layup by freshman Maik Kotsar with 3:31 to go. A basket by Thornwell put Carolina up 72-64 with 2:52 left, matching the team’s biggest lead of the game.
The Lancaster, S.C., native, took over and scored the team’s final seven points to propel the Gamecocks to the 77-73 road win. Silva (15) and Kotsar (10) joined Thornwell in double figures. After a strong first half from behind the arc, Carolina held the Bulldogs to 25 percent (3-for-12) shooting from 3 in the second half. The Gamecocks shot 56 percent (15-for-27) in the second half.
South Carolina held Mississippi State’s leading-scorer Quindary Weatherspoon (17.3 ppg) to just three points on 1-of-5 shooting. Weatherspoon made a free throw with 1:22 left in the game for his first points of the night.
- The Gamecocks have now won three consecutive road games in league play.
- Tonight’s victory was the team’s fifth road win in SEC play this season, marking the most conference road wins since the 1997 squad went 7-1
- Carolina has now posted back-to-back 20-win seasons (first time since 2003-04, 04-05, 05-06) and the team’s six road wins this year are the most since 2005-06.
- The win tonight was the Gamecocks first in Humphrey Coliseum since a 74-62 win on March 8, 2014.
- Thornwell now has 25 career games with 20-plus points after scoring 28 tonight.
- Kotsar tallied his first career SEC game in double figures with his 10 points. Tonight was the freshman’s first double figure game since he scored 10 vs. Lander on Dec. 27, 2016.
South Carolina hosts Arkansas on Wed., Feb. 15, before beginning a two-game road swing at Vanderbilt on Sat., Feb. 18. Tip-off vs. the Razorbacks next Wednesday is set for 6:30 PM ET, with the matchup set to be broadcast on the SEC Network with Dave Neal (pxp) and Chris Spatola (analyst) on the call.
TWEET OF THE GAME