South Carolina Upends No. 14 Mississippi State, 87-82, in OT
Maik Kotsar scored a career-high 25 points to lead five Gamecocks in double figures
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Freshman A.J. Lawson stole the ball and finished with an emphatic dunk with nine seconds left in overtime to seal South Carolina’s 87-82 upset of No. 14 Mississippi State on Tuesday night.
Maik Kotsar scored a career-high 25 points and had nine rebounds for the Gamecocks (7-7, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), who were the only SEC team with a losing record in nonconference play but now sit atop the league.
Lawson, who came in as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 13 points a game, scored just six points on 3-of-11 shooting. But he may have turned around what appeared to be a lost season for South Carolina with his steal and dunk as the Bulldogs (12-2, 0-1) tried to get a potential game-tying 3.
Kotsar came up big in overtime too, with a mid-range jumper with 42.1 seconds to go that put South Carolina ahead, 85-82.
Hassani Gravett added 17 points and Chris Silva had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks.
Aric Holman had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Mississippi State. Nick Weatherspoon scored 17 points, and Lamar Peters had 16 points and seven assists.
Mississippi State trailed 61-54 with just under 12 minutes to go, but climbed back in it with some timely 3s. Both teams had good looks to take the lead late in regulation.
Silva had a rebound just under the basket slip out of his hands with 30 seconds to go in regulation. Peters missed a tough running layup with 5 seconds left, and Gravett’s half-court heave at the buzzer rolled around the rim before falling away.
> The Gamecocks forced four of MSU’s 16 turnovers in overtime. Freshman A.J. Lawson made the biggest play of the game with a steal and monster dunk on the other end to put Carolina ahead, 87-82, and the game on ice with nine seconds left in overtime.
> Junior forward Maik Kotsar was outstanding, scoring a career-high 25 points. The Tallinn, Estonia, native was 7-for-9 in the second half and overtime with 17 points.
> He scored six of the team’s 12 points in the extra period – a pair of free throws, a clutch tip-in and baseline jumper. Kotsar also had nine rebounds, two assists and a big block late in the second half.
> Redshirt senior Hassani Gravett followed up a 22-point outing in the team’s win at Florida on Saturday with 17 points off the bench against the Bulldogs.
> The Villa Rica, Ga., native went 6-for-13 from the floor and pulled down seven rebounds. He also made a pair of 3s, his eighth game of the season with multiple makes from behind the arc.
> Sophomore forward Felipe Haase also gave the Gamecocks big minutes off the bench, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds.
> Senior big man Chris Silva had 11 points, 12 rebounds, four assists (ties career high) and three blocks for his fourth double-double (19th career) this season. He played the final 9:34 with four fouls.
> Graduate transfer guard Tre Campbell had 10 points, three assists and a team-high three steals.
> South Carolina is now 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since the historic 2016-17 season.
> Tonight’s victory over Mississippi State was the Gamecocks first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 10/11 Auburn at home on Feb.17, 2018.
> It also marks Carolina’s first OT win since defeating LSU, 83-74, on Feb. 28, 2018 in Columbia.
Carolina concludes its brief homestand when it welcomes in Missouri to Colonial Life Arena this Saturday for a 1 p.m. ET matchup. The conference battle will be televised on the SEC Network with Richard Cross (play-by-play) and Debbie Antonelli (analyst) on the call.