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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: 266598

Reported Deaths: 5852
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17807191
Hinds16967332
Harrison14298204
Rankin11280221
Jackson10976190
Lee9088145
Madison8619169
Jones6782118
Forrest6236124
Lauderdale6128192
Lowndes5564120
Lafayette5229101
Lamar507465
Washington4951125
Bolivar4149109
Oktibbeha409482
Panola388281
Pontotoc378560
Warren3698103
Monroe3693110
Marshall358570
Union357764
Pearl River3508106
Neshoba3499154
Leflore3122109
Lincoln307688
Hancock296362
Sunflower293075
Tate281162
Alcorn273554
Pike271081
Itawamba270063
Scott260849
Yazoo257156
Prentiss254554
Coahoma251555
Copiah250749
Tippah250150
Simpson243872
Leake238467
Marion225973
Grenada224272
Covington222473
Adams215371
Wayne215034
Winston207771
George204839
Newton200046
Attala197464
Tishomingo195661
Chickasaw189644
Jasper182538
Holmes172268
Clay167537
Tallahatchie157535
Stone152925
Clarke148662
Calhoun141822
Smith130726
Yalobusha123835
Walthall115037
Greene114529
Noxubee114126
Montgomery112736
Lawrence107617
Carroll106922
Perry105331
Amite102426
Webster97424
Claiborne89725
Tunica89321
Jefferson Davis88930
Benton86523
Humphreys84824
Kemper81020
Quitman7149
Franklin70717
Choctaw63813
Wilkinson59925
Jefferson57121
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 443009

Reported Deaths: 6662
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson649101007
Mobile31746574
Madison28413217
Tuscaloosa21566275
Montgomery20088332
Shelby19452132
Baldwin17333189
Lee13261107
Morgan12678142
Etowah12141181
Calhoun11555206
Marshall10487123
Houston9031164
Limestone838181
Cullman8296124
Elmore8243110
Lauderdale7946107
DeKalb7900107
St. Clair7876130
Talladega6523112
Walker6050183
Jackson603245
Colbert558194
Blount548586
Autauga540762
Coffee466964
Dale412785
Franklin377550
Russell358415
Chilton346873
Covington340880
Escambia339244
Tallapoosa3163109
Dallas313696
Chambers305470
Clarke303336
Pike265231
Lawrence255855
Marion254661
Winston234742
Bibb222948
Geneva213047
Marengo210531
Pickens200431
Hale186144
Barbour183438
Fayette178829
Butler174860
Cherokee166031
Henry160025
Monroe152621
Randolph146636
Washington142727
Clay130746
Crenshaw124845
Macon122837
Cleburne122125
Lamar120622
Lowndes116836
Wilcox108322
Bullock104628
Perry100518
Conecuh98022
Sumter90627
Greene77923
Coosa64018
Choctaw52124
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