Williams scores 38 as Gamecocks beat Mississippi State 79-72
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina (14-16, 4-13 SEC) used an 18-5 run through the first 10 minutes of the second half to secure a 79-72 victory over Mississippi State (8-21, 3-15) at Colonial Life Arena on Senior Night in Columbia. Junior guard Brenton Williams scored a career high 38 points to lead the Gamecocks in the victory, which marked a new South Carolina record for points scored in an SEC regular season contest, and a new Colonial Life Arena record.
Williams' 38 points marked the first 30-point performance for a Gamecock since then-freshman Bruce Ellington posted 31 at Furman on Dec. 22, 2010, and the most points in a game since Terry Dozier also netted 38 in an 86-85 win over Florida State on March 3, 1987, 26 years ago to the day, in the Metro Conference Tournament. Williams hit 10-of-17 attempts from the floor, including a 6-of-9 mark from 3-point range and a 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line.
South Carolina honored four senior members of its team prior to the contest versus Mississippi State in senior forward Lakeem Jackson, senior guard Shane Phillips and senior managers Josh King and Bubba Wright.
Williams led all scorers, while junior guard Bruce Ellington added nine points for the Gamecocks. Jackson pulled down a team high eight rebounds. Mississippi State's Craig Sword paced the Bulldogs with 20 points, while Jalen Steele added 17. South Carolina collected 18 assists on 21 made baskets in the contest.
South Carolina's seniors hit back-to-back buckets to open scoring for Carolina, with Jackson connecting for an early layup and make from the foul line, followed by a jumper from Phillips just inside the 3-point line moments later.
A three-point play from MSU's Roquez Johnson tied the contest at 12 with just over 12 minutes to play, but the Gamecocks scored the next five points on a 3 from Williams and layup from Michael Carrera to regain the lead at 17-12.
Jackson's seventh point of the night pushed the Gamecocks lead to 23-16 with just under nine minutes to play before the half. The Bulldogs would answer however, scoring eight of the game's next 10 points to pull within one at 25-24 with just under five minutes to play before the break.
MSU's Gavin Ware hit a layup for a one-point Bulldog advantage just after, but Williams countered with a jumper for a 27-26 Gamecocks upperhand with 4:29 showing on the clock. Seconds later Ware collected an offensive rebound on a miss from Fred Thomas and was fouled by Carrera, who was then called for a technical foul, marking his fourth of the contest with 3:43 remaining before half.
Both teams were solid from the free throw line down the stretch and the Gamecocks held a 34-32 upperhand at the half. Mississippi State hit 10-of-19 attempts (52.6%) in the opening 20 minutes, compared to 11-of-24 from the field (45.8%) for the Gamecocks. South Carolina collected nine assists and committed just five turnovers in the half.
Brian Steele hit Carolina's second 3 of the second half with 16:31 to play, and Williams connected for two free throws at the 16-minute mark for a 42-35 Gamecock upperhand.
Williams hit his third 3 of the contest with 14:43 to play to push the Carolina lead to 10 at 45-35 and another trey from Williams with 11:50 on the clock saw the lead at 48-35, which forced a Bulldog timeout.
Carolina's lead was extended to 50-35 with a steal and layup from Williams at the 10:44 mark. The score gave Williams 22 for the game, which matched his career high.
Another 3 from the junior guard gave him his career high and fifth make from beyond the arc in the contest, pushing the Gamecocks lead to 59-40 with just over eight minutes to play.
Williams hit the 30-point mark with his career-best sixth 3 of the contest with 5:08 on the clock, but the Bulldogs would score 10 unanswered points to pull within nine at 68-59 with 3:25 to play.
Sword would hit his third-straight basket at the three-minute mark to force a Gamecock timeout with Carolina holding a seven-point advantage at 68-61.
Sword hit another out of a media timeout seconds later to put the score at 68-63. Williams would hit two from the free throw line with just over two minutes remaining for a 70-63 Carolina lead.
The score stood at 74-67 Gamecocks with 29.9 seconds to play, but a Carolina turnover would give the Bulldogs possession. MSU missed a 3, and Williams posted two from the free throw line to secure the 79-72 victory.