In what’s becoming a familiar pattern, the South Carolina Gamecocks couldn’t complete a late rally and allowed the Mississippi State Bulldogs to win for the first time on the road this season, falling 81-76 on Wednesday in Columbia.
The slumping Gamecocks have lost three of their past four games, all of them at home. Though they trailed by just one at the half, 37-36, the Bulldogs started the second period on a tear, building a 57-48 lead behind the Weatherspoon brothers (Quinndary finished with 18 points, while Nick added 17). From there, the Gamecocks could get no closer than three points the rest of the way.
Frank Booker scored a career-high and game-high 25 points for South Carolina, followed by Chris Silva’s 18. Wes Myers, who had stepped up big in the aftermath of Kory Holden’s injury, continued his recent struggles with an eight-point performance and five turnovers to one assist. Adding to the Gamecocks’ depth woes, starter Justin Minaya missed the contest with a right ankle sprain, which also contributed to the team’s defensive issues against Mississippi State’s guard play. Coach Frank Martin unfortunately didn’t specify a timeline for his return, although it at least sounds like Holden is on the verge of hitting the court again for the Gamecocks.
To say this was a disappointing way to wrap up the homestand would be an understatement. South Carolina needs to come out on the right side of these winnable games if it still wants a shot at an NCAA Tournament berth, but the mounting personnel issues might just be too much to overcome.
Up next: South Carolina starts a road trip with a visit to Texas A&M at 2 p.m. on Saturday.