Poor shooting and a lack of physicality hurt the South Carolina’s men’s basketball team on Saturday in a 75-59 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The Gamecocks got thrown around the court and physically outplayed. The Bulldogs played hard from start to finish, outrebounding South Carolina 46-30 in the game.
“We got absolutely destroyed in the physicality department of the game,” South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said. “Today was the equivalent of going in to box and you’re fighting a guy that just hits you in the gut over and over."
Tempers flared early in the game. Before tip-off, the teams broke into a scuffle, which lead to two technical free throws for Gamecock junior guard AJ Lawson. He made one of the two shots.
The Gamecocks started the game off by driving to the bucket and getting easy points. They managed to go on an 8-0 run early, allowing them to have a slight lead. Soon after this, a Mississippi State run put the Bulldogs back on top.
Neither team shot well in the first five minutes. The Gamecocks started the game 3-12 from the field, shooting a poor 25%. The Bulldogs shot 36%.
Having lost the physicality they started the game with, the rest of the half did not go well for the Gamecocks. Their offense stayed cold while Mississippi State’s started to heat up, and the Bulldogs ended the half by pulling their shooting percentage to 43%.
13 Bulldog turnovers and 13 fouls kept South Carolina in the game. A lob to Bryant from redshirt sophomore Jermaine Couisnard sparked a 6-0 run for the Gamecocks to end the half. The team shot 11-16 from the free-throw line in the half, allowing them to get some points on offense despite not shooting efficiently.
Still, South Carolina found themselves down 36-30 at halftime.
After halftime, the Gamecocks brought more energy to the court than the Bulldogs. After a quick three from Mississippi state’s Devon Smith, the Gamecocks went on a 9-0 run to tie it at 39. The team shot 50% from the field in the first 10 minutes of the half.
Then, the Gamecocks missed 13 straight field goals, allowing Mississippi State to build a double-digit lead.
This proved to be the point of no return for this game and Mississippi State finished the game off strong putting the Gamecocks down with no chance of getting up.
“When it’s guys that always get shots and they shoot air-balls, that’s the recipe for a bad night, ” Martin said. "Everyone can shoot open threes and layups on a broken floor. Except us tonight."
The Bulldogs shot 46% from the field for the game, as opposed to the Gamecocks' 31%.
South Carolina kept forcing turnovers throughout the second half. Mississippi State gave the ball up 21 times the whole game. Unfortunately, they could not capitalize off these mistakes, scoring 17 points off turnovers and 6 fast break points.
“We got nothing out of our open court opportunities,” Martin said. “It’s a shame we had an opportunity today to build more momentum and we just didn’t do it.”
Lawson scored his 1,000th point as a Gamecock, making him the 47th player to do so in school history.
Lawson finished the game with 13 points and 5 rebounds. Redshirt senior guard Seventh Woods added 10 points of his own.
Sophomore guard D.J. Steward Jr. led the Bulldogs in scoring with 29 points on 10 for 17 shooting and 5-5 from the free-throw line.
The Gamecocks fall to 5-7 on the year and 3-5 in the SEC. They will host No. 10 Alabama Tuesday at 6:30 p.m Tuesday.