It was yet another no-show on the road for the South Carolina men's basketball team. The Gamecocks fell to Mississippi State, 68-58, Saturday afternoon in Starkville.
They never led and never really came close to leading after the Bulldogs got off to a hot start. MSU got out to an early 13-4 lead and a few Gamecock baskets cut their deficit to five but the home team reeled off a 12-1 run, and while it didn't feel like an early nail in the coffin, it ended up being just that. South Carolina never really recovered and were never able to truly challenge the Bulldog lead.
For much of the game, Mississippi State held a three-to-four possession advantage over South Carolina. It was much more than that at times like when the Bulldogs got out to a 25-9 lead midway through the first half - and that wasn't even the largest lead of the day.
The Gamecocks defense was likely good enough to earn a win on Saturday but yet again, on the road, the USC offense is what let the team down. Turnovers were a large problem as Frank Martin's club turned the ball over 21 times, a new season-high. Poor shooting was again a familiar culprit. South Carolina shot 30 percent from the field in the first half against Mississippi State's 56 percent clip, hitting 15 of their first 25 attempts from the floor.
The Bulldog lead would get as high as 17 in the second half. Carolina cut their deficit to single-digits in the final few minutes of the ball game but it never got below eight. USC's 21 turnovers turned into 24 MSU points, a season-high for a Gamecock opponent in that department.
Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks in scoring with 12 points, 10 of them coming in the second half. Michael Carrera contributed six points and eight rebounds but left the game briefly with an injury. The senior's six points on Saturday ended a streak of double-figure scoring that stretched back to Jan. 11.
South Carolina heads back to Columbia for their final home game of the season. Thursday's game against Georgia will be Senior Night for Carrera, Mindaugas Kacinas and Laimonas Chatkevicius. It's hard to believe these program building blocks will be gone in the near future.