A Josh Gray layup with 8:20 to play moved USC into a 57-53 lead at Mississippi State Tuesday night, and thoughts of a fourth SEC road win were legit, but the Gamecocks could not sustain that level of play the rest of the way and the Bulldogs pulled away to a 74-68 win, their 20th of the season. It was the 20th loss of the season for the Gamecocks who are 10-20 overall and 3-14 in the SEC.
The Gamecocks had battled back from eight points down to take that four point lead. The Bulldogs then rolled off eight straight points to retake the lead 61-57. The Gamecocks suffered four turnovers during that stretch.
Despite that, the Gamecocks kept the game within reach and trailed 66-63 after a Hayden Brown layup with 2:38 remaining. But back to back offensive fouls by the Gamecocks helped to fuel a 7-0 Bulldog run for a ten point lead with :27 to play.
The Gamecocks suffered nine of their 14 turnovers over the final ten minutes of the game. The Bulldogs converted those 14 turnovers into 17 points. They had nine steals and 15 fastbreak points. USC had zero points on the break. The Bulldogs also outscored USC in the paint 40-26.
GG Jackson led the Gamecocks with 22 points and 8 rebounds, but he did not make a basket for the final 11:23 of the game. He also accounted for five of the team’s turnovers including three inside the final ten minutes. Josh Gray and Hayden Brown had 12 points each. Shakeel Moore, who had a career high 22 points in the win at USC in January, led all scorers with 20 points.