STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Lamar Peters had 19 points, including five in overtime, to lead Mississippi State past South Carolina 72-68 on Saturday.
Tyson Carter and Quinndary Weatherspoon had 13 points apiece for Mississippi State (21-8, 9-7 SEC). Nick Weatherspoon also had 10 points for the Bulldogs before fouling out in the second half. Quinndary Weatherspoon hit two free throws with 6.8 seconds left in overtime to clinch the win for Mississippi State.
Peters also had five assists and four steals. He was 6 of 16 from the field and was 5 of 6 at the free throw line.
“South Carolina was the most physical team we’ve faced and anybody can see that,” said Peters. “We went into halftime, kept our heads up and we’re down just 7. We just want to make this run for the (NCAA) Tournament so we had to get back in the game. We kept our heads up and found a way.”
Hassani Gravett had 19 points to lead South Carolina (15-14, 6-10) and added five assists and four steals. Gravett’s 3-pointer at the end of the second half sent the game into overtime. Chris Silva had 11 points and 12 boards despite battling foul trouble. Maik Kotsaw and Felipe Haase also had 11 points for South Carolina.
“It was a phenomenal win and a gut-check win for us against a hard-nosed and well-coached team in South Carolina,” said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. “You see why South Carolina had Auburn down 26 points and how they got to the Final Four last year. They really denied everything and I think we only had four assists in the first half. We did a better job in the second half and the key juncture in the second half was when Eli Wright came into the game. He did a phenomenal job for us.”
Wright scored all eight of his points in the second half and fueled a 17-4 run by the Bulldogs, which gave them a 49-47 lead with 6:45 left in regulation. Wright scored his eight points over a span of 2:27.
The visiting Gamecocks jumped on Mississippi State early and held an 11-2 advantage in the game’s opening six minutes. South Carolina stretched the lead to 13 points with 6:07 remaining in the first half.
Mississippi State responded with an 11-2 run to close the deficit to 26-22. Gravett, however, sank back-to-back 3 pointers for the Gamecocks to push the lead back to 32-22. Mississippi State’s Tyson Carter responded with a 3 pointer to end the first half and South Carolina held a 32-25 lead at the break.
South Carolina finished with 21 turnovers and outrebounded Mississippi State 40-30. The Gamecocks shot 44.1 percent for the game while Mississippi State shot 42.9 percent.
“I was disappointed in our ability to play offense in the second half and that’s been our downfall all year,” said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. “We just have no consistency on offense. We had 21 turnovers tonight and that’s just been the downfall all year. It just makes no sense.”
The Bulldogs shot just 33.3 percent in the first half while South Carolina shot 46.2 percent from the field. The Bulldogs were just 2 of 10 beyond the arc and had eight turnovers in the first half. The Gamecocks were 11-0 this year when leading at halftime.
Mississippi State is now 18-1 at home this season and that includes a 7-1 mark inside SEC play.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have now lost four straight games on the road and finish their road schedule next week.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have now won seven of their nine games to keep NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The 21 wins mark the most by the Bulldogs since winning 21 in the 2011-12 season.
South Carolina finishes its home slate on Wednesday as the Gamecocks host LSU.
Mississippi State closes out the regular-season home slate on Tuesday as the Bulldogs host No. 19 Tennessee.