Bulldogs fall in overtime against No. 17 South Carolina

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, March 9, 2024

STARKVILLE (AP) — B.J. Mack had 25 points and Collin Murray-Boyles scored 19 to lead No. 17 South Carolina to a 93-89 overtime victory against Mississippi State on Saturday.

The Gamecocks (25-6, 13-5 Southeastern Conference) finished off the regular season with one of the best turnarounds in college basketball. They were 4-14 in the conference and 11-21 overall a year ago.

“They told me this was the most regular-season wins in school history,” coach Lamont Paris said. “We finished tied for second place and there is a lot of pride in this group. We played with a chip on our shoulders all season and one day they are going to say these guys are good. Maybe they will say it today and I am just so proud of these guys.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Mack had seven points in overtime for South Carolina, and Meechie Johnson scored five. Johnson finished with 16 points in the game.

Freshman Josh Hubbard had 28 points and Cameron Matthews had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Mississippi State (19-12, 8-10), which dropped its fourth straight game.

Dashawn Davis added 16 points and Tolu Smith had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.

In the closing seconds of regulation, Hubbard sank two free throws to tie the game at 75. Mack responded with two free throws of his own to give the Gamecocks a 77-75 advantage with 4.2 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs rushed the ball up the floor and Davis was fouled with 1.4 seconds remaining. He made two free throws to send the game into overtime.

South Carolina never trailed in the extra period after Johnson hit a 3-pointer 28 seconds in. Mississippi State did, however, have a chance to tie it late. Hubbard was fouled on a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left and made the first two free throws to pull the Bulldogs to within 89-88.

Hubbard missed the third, however, and Mack grabbed the rebound for the Gamecocks. He made two free throws on the other end, and Johnson hit two more with five seconds remaining to seal it.

“It’s really frustrating knowing it was right there. It was in our hands. We couldn’t really just grasp it and get the win,” Matthews said. “We’re all a group of adults, and we know that this game doesn’t make or break our season. We’ve got a big tournament coming up, SEC Tournament, make a good run in that. Everything is good.”

For the third straight game, Mississippi State had a slow start. South Carolina took a 17-8 lead after a Myles Stute 3-pointer with 12:48 remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs kept chipping away and tied it at 27-all with 5:14 left in the opening half. South Carolina eventually took a 38-37 advantage at halftime.

“The last three games have all been similar in the way they’ve unfolded from our perspective,” said Mississippi State coach Chris Jans. “Auburn, (Texas) A&M and tonight against South Carolina, the difference in the margin throughout the game wasn’t as big but that theme of playing from behind and just fighting uphill all night long was the same.”

Hubbard, a freshman guard, hit a game-tying 3-pointer with a little over three minutes left in the second half. It was his 98th 3-pointer of the year, passing the previous school single-season record set by Darryl Wilson during the 1994-95 season.

Hubbard has now scored 20 or more points in five straight games and averaged 28.2 points per contest over that span.