Kotsar leads South Carolina over Mississippi State 83-71

South Carolina forward Maik Kotsar scored 20 points on his Senior Night and pushed the Gamecocks to an 83-71 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday.

Posted: Mar 3, 2020 10:03 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina forward Maik Kotsar scored 20 points on his Senior Night and pushed the Gamecocks to an 83-71 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday.

The Gamecocks (18-12, 10-7 Southeastern Conference) clinched their fourth winning conference season in five years and breathed life into their flagging NCAA Tournament hopes, which nearly flatlined after Saturday's loss at Alabama. The Bulldogs (19-11, 10-7) saw a two-game winning streak snapped.

"They really were phenomenal tonight, and with all riding on this game tonight from our standpoint … ," Bulldogs coach Ben Howland trailed off. "You don't want to play them."

South Carolina is still in contention for a top-four finish in the SEC, which would be its fourth in five years, but needs help from Florida, to which it would lose a tiebreaker. Kotsar, A.J. Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant, who threw down two highlight-reel dunks among his 12 points, helped keep the Gamecocks in range.

"I feel like we fought really hard and it was a great way to go out," Kotsar said. "I feel like confidence is my main thing. Today, I didn't make a lot of shots, but the guys were encouraging me, helping me out, saying, ‘If you're open, shoot it.'"

He did, posting a couple of rare dunks and taking advantage of an even rarer fluid offensive night. The Gamecocks' reputation this year has been a team that fouls too much, goes on severe dry spells from the floor and can't make its free throws.

On Tuesday, the Gamecocks shot 48.5% still had 23 fouls, only missed five from the line and were the better offensive team.

Bryant and Lawson each had 12 points while three other Gamecocks finished with eight apiece. MSU got 17 points and 16 rebounds from SEC Player of the Year candidate Reggie Perry and 24 points from Tyson Carter, who cooked the Gamecocks with 10 straight points in one second-half stretch.

Yet it wasn't enough. Kotsar owned the paint, Jermaine Couisnard stroked a big 3-pointer and the Bulldogs dropped a game they had to have for their own NCAA Tournament chances.

South Carolina took control with a 20-0 first-half run, but Mississippi State responded with a 25-9 run to make it a two-point game at halftime. The Bulldogs wilted in the second half.

"To use all that energy, to be down so big and have to come back from that, it was really tough on us," Howland said.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs lost their last shot for a Quadrant 1 win. Although they still have a chance of finishing in the SEC's top four and have a solid NET ranking, their resume doesn't boast many very notable wins. They'll have to win their final game and get a couple in the SEC tournament to feel strong about their at-large NCAA Tournament chances.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are clinging to their own slim chance for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth. The loss to Alabama the last time out put them right on the precipice but if they win their final game, then notch their 20th win of the season at the SEC tournament, they could sneak in.

HISTORICAL

South Carolina has hardly ever been a player in the SEC, notching three winning league seasons in the 21 years before Martin arrived.

He has four in his last five seasons.

HE SAID IT

Howland compared playing South Carolina to a root canal two weeks ago. He corrected himself Tuesday, saying it was like a dental implant.

Martin, who developed dry socket once after getting his wisdom teeth removed, appreciated it.

"If playing us hurts that bad, then we need to keep playing that way," he said.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State finishes the regular season at home Saturday against rival Ole Miss. The Bulldogs were pummeled 83-58 in Oxford on Feb. 11.

South Carolina is at Vanderbilt on Saturday, which will be a prelude to returning to Nashville for the ensuing SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks beat the Commodores 93-57 in Columbia but Vandy, with nothing to play for other than sending its seniors out on a strong note, is a classic trap game.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
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