The South Carolina men’s basketball team (8-14, 1-8 SEC) lost its sixth game in a row in a 66-51 loss to Mississippi State (14-8, 2-7 SEC) Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks kept it close for most of the first half before allowing an 11-4 run in the final four minutes, bringing the score to 32-26 at halftime. Mississippi State carried this momentum into the second half, scoring the first 6 points after the break. This put Carolina down 38-26 early in the second half, a deficit that proved to be too much to overcome for the Gamecocks.
Overall, Mississippi State shot 52.9% from the field while South Carolina shot 34%. The Gamecocks also had difficulty shooting free throws, only making 7 out of 14, while the Bulldogs shot 9-12 from the charity stripe. South Carolina turned the ball over 18 times in the game, and a combined 12 of these turnovers came from freshman forward GG Jackson and sophomore guard Meechie Johnson.
“They're aggressive defensively, they force a lot of turnovers," head coach Lamont Paris said. "In some situations, I think we were trying to do more than what the situation called for ... they scored 21 points off of those turnovers.”
South Carolina also got dominated down low in this game and were outscored 42-16 on points in the paint. Even though junior forward Josh Gray grabbed a season-high 14 total rebounds himself, the Gamecocks allowed 11 offensive rebounds as a team, which led to 12 second chance points scored by the Bulldogs.
“These past couple of games, (Gray) has been playing really productive for us, grabbing rebounds, and tonight I feel like I'll take that load on me," Jackson said. "I was trying to box out, trying to get the ball to come my way, but it really wasn’t coming my way. But that’s no excuse just to box somebody out and put a body on someone.”
A bright spot for this young Carolina team is that, in this game, it shot more efficiently from behind the three-point line than Mississippi State. The Gamecocks shot 33.3% from long range, while the Bulldogs shot 25%. Most of this production behind the three-point line came from Jackson and Johnson, who both shot 3-7 from the three. Jackson and Johnson were also the Gamecocks' top scorers in this game, scoring 15 and 13 points, respectively.
South Carolina will get a chance to bounce back and try to break its losing streak on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Arkansas. The game will air on the SEC Network.