South Carolina (12-19, 5-13 SEC) earned its first win since 2007 at Humphrey Coliseum, defeating Mississippi State (13-18, 3-15 SEC) 74-62 this afternoon. The Gamecocks were led by senior guard Brenton Williams, who had a game-high 27 points on 7-of-14 shooting from 3 and freshman Sindarius Thornwell, who recorded his second double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bulldogs were paced by Craig Sword who had 19 points, while Fred Thomas added 15.
Thornwell got the Gamecocks off to a fast start as he sank a trey 30 seconds into the contest before getting on a put back on the next possession. Sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas made it 7-0 with a put back on his own missed attempt before Roquez Johnson got the Bulldogs on the board from the foul line.
With a 9-4 lead, Williams came alive as he sank a 3 before turning over Tyson Cunningham and taking it the other way for a layup. With 13:29 on the clock, the senior hit his second 3-pointer of the half to give Carolina a 19-8 lead.
A 7-2 run though over the next two minutes, capped by a 3 from Fred Thomas brought the Bulldogs to within six at 21-15.
With a 31-21 lead with 6:38 remaining in the half, Mississippi State cut its deficit to three with after a 3-point play from Colin Borchert. Thornwell continued to keep the Bulldogs at bay as the freshman scored four more in the final minutes to give the Gamecocks a 36-29 lead at the half. Thornwell led South Carolina from start to finish in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Out of the break, the Bulldogs pushed the paced to the tune of an 11-0 run after a Sword converted on a 3-point play to give Mississippi State a 40-36 just over 3 minutes into the half. Freshman guard Duane Notice ended the scoreless drought for the Gamecocks with a 3 on the following possession.
With the Bulldogs holding a 47-39 lead with 14:18 on the clock, Williams caught fire from beyond the arc, hitting five straight 3 with fifth coming from 27 feet. His last 3 was also his seventh of the game as he tied his career high. Thornwell also added a 3-pointer during what amounted to a 22-4 run over six minutes as the Gamecocks took a 61-51 lead with 8:21 remaining.
The Bulldogs would get the within four with four and half minutes to play, but that was as close as they would get. Layups from Notice and Kacinas put the game out of reach, and Williams added three free throws in the final minutes as the Gamecocks earned their fifth conference win of the season 74-62.
Kacinas was one rebound shy of a double-double as he finished the day with 13 points and nine rebounds.
The win means South Carolina will play Auburn Wednesday night in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Tipoff is schedule for 7 p.m., ET at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.