STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Nick Weatherspoon had 18 points and D.J. Stewart scored 16 as Mississippi State held off South Carolina 79-76 on Wednesday.
Abdul Ado had 14 points for the Bulldogs (17-9 overall, 8-5 in Southeastern Conference), while Reggie Perry had 10 points and 10 rebounds. It was Perry's 14th double-double of the season and the 23rd of his career.
Maik Kotsar's 24 points led South Carolina (16-10, 8-5), while Jermaine Couisnard had 17 points. A.J. Lawson also finished in double digits with 12 points for the Gamecocks.
After trailing by 11 points with under four minutes remaining, South Carolina had a furious comeback attempt in the closing seconds. Jair Bolden made a 3 pointer with 7 seconds left to close the deficit to 78-77. Mississippi State's Robert Woodard made one free throw with 6 seconds left and South Carolina did not get a potential game-tying shot off.
The opening minutes proved to be a back-and-forth affair that featured five lead changes and three ties. Mississippi State took a 17-12 lead following a Robert Woodard 3 pointer at the 10:09 mark of the first half. After the Bulldogs stretched the lead to 21-14, Kotsar responded with six straight points to cut the deficit to one.
Mississippi State answered with a 9-2 run, sparked by a Carter 3-pointer, and led 30-22 with 4:36 remaining in the half. The Bulldog led 36-27 at halftime, which was their largest lead of the half.
Mississippi State shot 44% in the first half and made 11 of 13 at the free-throw line. The Gamecocks shot 46% and missed 6 of 7 attempts beyond the arc. The Bulldogs held a 17-13 rebounding advantage at the half and both teams combined for 19 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks had won eight of their last ten games entering Wednesday's game and are now 4-13 all-time at Mississippi State.
Mississippi State: Since losing by 25 points to rival Ole Miss last week, Mississippi State has responded with two straight wins to remain in the NCAA Tournament conversation.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks begin a two-game homestand against LSU on Saturday.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs return to the road and travel to Texas A&M on Saturday.