It might have been a match up of two of the worst teams in the SEC, but that was of little consequence to the USC players. The Gamecocks held on to defeat Mississippi State at the Colonial Life Arena on Senior Night Wednesday night 79-72 to break a three game losing streak and move out of last place in the SEC standings. The Gamecocks are 14-16 overall and 4-13 in the league and will close out the regular season Saturday at Vanderbilt.
The star of the night was junior guard Brenton Williams. He scored a career high 38 points off the bench setting a Colonial Life Arena single game record. It’s the highest point total for a Gamecock player this season and he becomes the only Gamecock to score at least 30 points in a game this season.
Williams is the first Gamecock score at least 30 points in a game since Bruce Ellington scored 31 points in a loss at Furman in December of 2011. His 38 points are the most by a Gamecock since Terry Doxier scored 38 against Florida State in the Metro Conference Tournament on March 6th, 1987. And it’s a record for a Gamecock in an SEC game.
Williams was 10-17 from the floor, 6-9 from three point range, and hit all 12 of his free throws. He also contributed 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.
Of course, the Gamecocks did not make it easy on themselves. They had a 19 point lead at 68-49 with 5:08 to play. The Bulldogs then went on a 14-0 run to get to with 68-63. State hit six straight shots during the run while the Gamecocks turned it over three times and missed a pair of shots. A pair of free throws by Williams with 2:02 to play stopped the bleeding and the Gamecocks were able to hold on by hitting 9 of their last 10 free throws.
Williams was the only Gamecock to score in double figures. Bruce Ellington and Lakeem Jackson scored 9 points each. Craig Sword led Mississippi State with 20 points. The Bulldogs drop to 8-21 and 3-14 in the SEC.
USC loses out the regular season Saturday at Vanderbilt Saturday.