Mississippi States Downs USC In Overtime

South Carolina thought they had they game won. With 5:24 remaining in the game and up by 12, the Gamecocks appeared in control. But the Bulldogs of Mississippi State didn't buy into it, rallying in the closing seconds and sending the game into overtime ...

With a little more than five minutes left in Wednesday's game before a frenzied sold-out crowd at the Colonial Center, South Carolina led No. 6 Mississippi State by 12 points.

The Gamecocks looked on the verge of pulling off its biggest victory in years, certainly the biggest win of the Dave Odom era.

It never happened.

Mississippi State stormed back from the seemingly insurmountable deficit to force overtime. MSU's Tim Bowers hit a game-tying three-pointer with seven seconds left.

The Bulldogs then outscored USC, 8-4, in OT to pull out a 79-75 victory, as USC missed a golden opportunity to make a splash on the national scene.

MSU turned the late momentum by switching to a halfcourt trap. The ploy worked to perfection, as MSU outscored USC, 17-5, over the final five minutes.

USC fell to 19-5, 6-4 in the SEC. The Gamecocks have lost three of four and now face a must-win situation against Vanderbilt Saturday night at the Colonial Center.

Mississippi State improved to 20-1, 9-1 in the SEC.

Rolando Howell (8-for-12) played one of his best games in a USC uniform, recording a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, both season highs.

Josh Gonner scored 12 points for USC, while Carlos Powell had 11 and Tre Kelley 10.

Lawrence Roberts, MSU's All-American transfer from Baylor, led the Bulldogs with 20 points. Branden Vincent had 13 points and a game-high 18 rebounds, 10 on the offensive end.

Poor free throw shooting and the inability to stop MSU on the offensive glass cost USC dearly. The Gamecocks were 1-for-6 from the line in overtime, 9-for-19 over the final 25 minutes.

MSU had a total of 21 offensive rebounds, as the Bulldogs outrebounded USC, 49-40.

Michael Boynton gave USC its first lead in OT (75-73) by nailing a 3-pointer with 2:05 left, the Gamecocks' only basket in the extra session. However, those were the final points for USC in the extra session, as USC missed its final four shots.

After Boynton's basket, Roberts came back with a strong move to the basket to tie the score. Howell missed a hook shot in the lane while trying to give USC the lead.

After a MSU free throw gave the Bulldogs a 76-75 lead, Tarence Kinsey missed a jumper from the top. MSU cemented the victory with three free throws.

USC played its best basketball over a 10:03 span in the second half, turning a 46-42 deficit into the 66-54 lead with 5:21 left.

After USC took a 34-32 halftime lead, the Gamecocks opened the second half with a defensive stop and then a 3-pointer from the corner by Gonner.

After a MSU jumper, Howell hit a turnaround jumper from the baseline and was fouled. He made the free throw to give USC its biggest lead (40-34).

MSU countered with seven straight points to take a one-point lead (41-40). Howell tipped home a miss in transition as USC regained the lead at 42-41.

MSU worked the ball inside to Roberts for a dunk and three-point play as the Bulldogs took a 46-42 lead heading into the first media timeout of the second half with 15:21 left. The baskets capped a 12-2 MSU run.

Kinsey ended USC's scoring drought with a jumper in the lane while being fouled. He missed the free throw, however. Moments later, he made amends by drilling a 3-pointer from the corner to give the USC lead back at 47-46.

Kinsey then skied for an offensive rebound in the lane, which lead to an easy basket by Howell. It was the final points in USC's 7-0 run.

Roberts hit a jumper from the corner for MSU before Tre Kelley made a perfect feed inside to Howell for a dunk. The basket gave a USC a 51-48 lead heading into the second media timeout with 11:56 left.

Kelley made one of the more exciting baskets of the night when he hit a jumper in the lane with the shot clock winding down. The ball rolled around the rim a few time before dropping through. The basket made it 53-48 with 11:00 left.

USC's 14-2 surge continued with a free throw by Kinsey and a dunk by Balkman to make it 56-48 with 9:31 left. MSU called a 30-second timeout with 9:28 left to try to stop the bleeding.

MSU showed why it's the No. 6 team in the land by scoring four points to cut the lead to 56-52. Powell answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

USC led, 59-52, when the third media timeout was called with 7:12 left.

Howell received the ball in the low before turning into the lane and converting a baby hook while being fouled. He made the free throw to give USC a 62-53 lead with 6:53 left.

Gonner followed with a jumper from the corner and Howell hit two free throws to give USC its largest of the night, 66-54, with 5:21 left.

Little went right the rest of the way for USC. MSU's comeback began when it converted USC turnovers on consecutive possessions to score two baskets, one a 3-pointer, to cut the USC lead to 66-63 with 3:25 left.

Kelley, not looking like a true freshman, hit a jumper in the lane to push USC's edge to five (68-63) with 2:52 left. MSU scored five straight points to tie the game at 68-68 with 2:04 left.

Balkman's deflection and steal near midcourt led to a Carlos Powell free throw with 44.9 seconds left to give USC a 69-68 lead. MSU called timeout to set up the potential go-ahead shot and had several cracks at the basket but couldn't score.

Howell was fouled on the rebound and swished the first free throw before USC called a 30-second timeout with to set up its defense after the second free throw attempt. Howell made the second toss to give USC a 71-68 lead with 11 seconds left.

MSU came down and Timmy Bowers, who had suffered through a subpar night, calmly drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the score at 71-71 with seven seconds left.

Howell inbounded to Boynton, who drove the length of the floor He went into the lane and the ball was swatted away by MSU and USC never got a shot off.

The first half was close and hard fought the entire way. The largest lead for either team was five points (USC 28-23). The half featured several runs by both squads before USC settled on a 34-32 edge at intermission.

Powell stole the ball from Roberts and jammed home a breakaway dunk to give USC an early 3-0 lead. MSU tied the score with a 3-pointer.

Howell had an opportunity for a conventional three-point play but he missed the free throw. Gonner nailed a triple while being fouled. He made the free throw for a four-point play and a 9-5 USC lead.

MSU scored the next six points on two 3–pointers to take an 11-9 lead. MSU led by the same score at the first media timeout with 15:28 left.

MSU completed an 8-0 run with a basket on its first possession after the timeout to take its largest lead of the half, 13-9.

USC responded with a 6-0 run of its own. The first two baskets came on offensive rebounds by Howell and Balkman. Howell completed the run with two free throws to give USC a 15-13 lead with 13:20 left.

Kerbrell Brown hit a three-pointer from the top of the key as USC took a 20-18 lead heading into the second media timeout with 10:49 left.

MSU took a brief 21-20 lead before Tre Kelly, inserted into the game for the first time, connected on a 3-pointer from the corner for a 23-21 Gamecock lead with 9:34 left.

Kelley displayed his superb athleticism when he stole the ball in the corner and drove aggressively to the basket and scored on a spinning move while being fouled. Kelley made the free throw as USC opened up a 28-23 heading into the third media timeout with 7:13 left.

The Bulldogs used a 6-0 run to take a brief 29-28 lead before Carlos Powell nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key after USC worked the ball around the perimeter.

Boynton hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to give USC a 32-29 lead with 1:54 left. MSU managed to tie the score in the final minute on a back-door layup and free throw (front end of a 1-and-1).

USC got possession with 45.4 seconds left and called a 30-second timeout. Boynton found Howell inside for a thunderous dunk to give USC a 34-32 lead.

Gonner deflected a MSU pass away at mid-court and attempted a runner from 35 feet but the ball bounce doff the backboard as the buzzer sounded.

USC shot 41.4% (12-for-29) in the first half, while MSU made 36.7% (11-for-30). Howell (4-5 FG, 2-3 FT) had 10 points in the first half.

Defensively, the Gamecocks held Roberts and Bowers in check for the most part in the first half. MSU's top two scorers were a combined 5-for-15 from the field.

NOTES: USC's starters were Boynton, Gonner, Howell, Powell, and Balkman. . .Current SEC East Standings: Kentucky 7-2, USC 6-4, Florida 5-4, Vanderbilt 4-5, Tennessee 4-5, Georgia 3-7. . .The last time USC defeated a ranked opponent was the 2002 SEC Tournament when the Gamecocks stunned No. 12 Kentucky, 70-57. . .USC is ranked No. 22 in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coach's poll and No. 25 in the AP poll. . .MSU's only loss this season came against Kentucky, 67-66, on a last-second shot. . .Wednesday marked Mississippi State's first ever appearance at the Colonial Center. USC is now 21-5 against teams visiting the CC for the first time. . .MSU leads the all-time series, 9-5. . .USC is 3-2 at home this season against SEC opponents. . .USC had 10 blocked shots. . .MSU became the first SEC team to record 20 victories. . .At No. 6 in the nation, MSU has its highest ranking since the 1962-63 season. . .USC came into Wednesday's game ranked No. 1 in five SEC categories: scoring defense (58.7), field goal pct. defense


USC HEAD COACH DAVE ODOM: "It was certainly a great basketball game. It was a heartbreaking loss for our players and our fans. Everyone put so much energy into the game. We played one of the best teams in the country. They are an excellent basketball team. Great teams make great plays at the key time. Tim Bowers made a great play (3-pointer at the end of regulation) You just don't want them to make them against you. After we went ahead by 12, they went to a halfcourt trap and we handled it very poorly. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know when. I knew it was coming. It's a difficult defense to play against. We wanted our players to play north-south and not east-west and we made three turnovers in a row."

"We came unglued for moment. They turned the heat up and we didn't respond. This team has a lot to be proud of. The next step is the hardest. If we back away, which we will not do, it will make everything else we've done a waste. We will not back away. We will use this game to get better. I will be surprised if we allow this game to hurt us Saturday night".

MSU: 32-39-8 = 79
USC: 34-37-4 = 75

USC Top Scorer: Rolando Howell, 24 points.
MSU Top Scorer: Lawrence Roberts, 20
USC Top Rebounder: Howell, 11
MSU Top Rebounder: Branden Vincent, 18.
Halftime: USC 34-32.

Next Game: Sat. 2/14 v. Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m.

SEC SCORES – Wednesday, February 11th
Tennessee 69, Arkansas 65
Vanderbilt 61, Georgia 39

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