Strong Second-Half Effort Not Enough as Bulldogs Give Way to 13 Straight Losses

A 20-4 run by South Carolina (12-19, 5-13) in the second half became too much for Mississippi State (13-18, 3-15) to handle as they fell for the 13th straight time, 74-62. The Bulldogs held an eight-point lead at one point in the second half but a barrage of three pointers put the Gamecocks over the top for their fifth conference win.
"I think it's a sustained effort," Rick Ray said. "It's not just physical effort, it's mental, too. It goes back to us not being able to sustain an effort mentally and physically and not having enough bodies on the front line and guys being bigger than us."
South Carolina came out on fire and the Bulldogs were sluggish turning the ball over five times in the first six minutes as the Gamecocks hit 7-12 to open the game and take the 16-4 lead. State might have turned the ball over but they hit their shots. The Bulldogs would make 67% of their as they made it to the three minute point and the game at 31-28.
The half would close out with Carolina extending that lead out to seven at 36-29. State hit 53% of their shots but struggled elsewhere on offense with 12 turnovers after hitting just nine total field goals. Colin Borchert led the way for MSU with six points.
"If you look at that first half, they had 13 points off of second-chance point and 10 points off of turnovers," Head Coach Rick Ray said. "We can't give up offensive rebounds. We just didn't take care of those things in the first half."
The Bulldogs came out full of intensity and fire on their way to the second half's first 11 points and a 16-3 run with five minutes gone by to take a 47-39 lead. However, South Carolina put together a 13-2 run of their on as they hit three straight threes to retake the lead at 52-49 with 10:30 left.
The lead grew for Carolina as they were putting the game out of reach with two more three pointers making it 61-51 capping a 22-4 run to give USC the double digit lead with 7:50 left.
State fought back into the game despite the barrage of threes. Defense leading to offense, State worked the game to four at 62-58 with four minutes remaining. That was unfortunately as close as the Bulldogs could get as they lost their 13th-straight ball game and finished the season as the SEC's worst team with a 74-62.
"I really wanted to send out our two seniors Colin and Tyson on a better note than this," Head Coach Rick Ray said. "We gave them a 16-4 lead. When you're struggling like we are and playing quality ball clubs in the SEC, you just can't spot guys points. Then we were up eight points with about 14 minutes left in the ball game and with about nine minutes left it turned to a seven-point deficit in that short amount of time."
State was led by Craig Sword who put together 19 points with 14 of those coming in the second half. The sophomore hit 7-14 from the field and 5-7 on the line while pulling down six rebounds and dishing out a team-leading five assist with two more steals. Fred Thomas also put together a strong second half effort connecting on 6-10 from the field and hitting 2-5 from three.
The two seniors Tyson Cunningham and Borchert combined for 10 points in 37 total minutes.
While State still lost the second half on the scoreboard, the Bulldogs were much more in control. After turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, they lost it only twice in the second half. They were dominated on the boards as the Gamecocks reeled in 46 rebounds to State's 27 including a deflating 21-10 edge on the offensive glass.
MSU now finishes up their season in the SEC tournament starting with the late game on Wednesday night against Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs look to avoid their worst losing streak since 1954 and have an opportunity to face rival Ole Miss in the second round.