Is it too little, too late for the USC basketball team and the NCAA Tournament? Time will tell, but the Gamecocks certainly are giving their fans something to cheer about down the stretch of the season. They won their fourth in a row Wednesday night at the Colonial Life Arena 66-56 over Mississippi State to cross the .500 mark in SEC play for the first time this season at 8-7. They are 17-10 overall with three games left on the schedule. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
USC never trailed, held a double-digit lead for the final 24:53, and led by as much as 19 points in the second half. Jermaine Couisnard kept up his strong play of late leading the Gamecocks with 22 points while dishing out four assists. Keyshawn Bryant was the only other Gamecock in double figures with 14 points.
The Gamecocks were locked in defensively and limited the Bulldogs to a 36% shooting night, including a 0-14 effort from three-point range. It was the first time this season Mississippi State had failed to make a three in a game, and the second time USC had held an opponent without a three (Arkansas). And after being whipped on the boards 41-27 in a loss in Starkville earlier in the season, the Gamecocks turned it around this game with a 38-29 advantage including 15 offensive rebounds they converted into 14 points.
The Gamecocks will travel to Alabama this Saturday seeking their first ever win in Tuscaloosa under Frank Martin. They will finish up the regular season next week at home against Missouri and at Auburn.