The South Carolina Gamecocks continued their surprising start to league play, collecting another thrilling win over an SEC foe and also bagging a top-15 upset in their 87-82 overtime win against the No. 14 Mississippi State Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
The game broke into a track meet right away, as both teams raced up and down the floor and were at one point shooting nearly 60 percent each. South Carolina held a 41-37 lead at the half, but the Gamecocks were starting to cool off and the Bulldogs wouldn’t go away.
Enter senior big man Maik Kotsar, who was playing in just his third game back from a concussion and put up a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds, which included a shockingly emphatic drive-and-dunk. Kotsar made several key plays down the stretch in regulation to keep the Gamecocks alive, especially when Chris Silva — who notched a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds — had to sit for a spell with foul trouble.
Freshman A.J. Lawson, who is South Carolina’s leading scorer this season but has been quiet lately, made a huge play of his own when he snatched the ball from Mississippi State in the final seconds of overtime, putting an exclamation point on the win with a breakaway dunk. Hassani Gravett, who’s been playing unquestionably the best basketball of his career, finished with 17 points, and freshman Tre Campbell enjoyed a solid evening with 10 points of his own.
Unsurprisingly, the Gamecocks found success when their veteran big men were productive, which is something they’ve sorely needed all year. With Silva taking over the Florida game and Kotsar showing out against Mississippi State, hopefully it’s a sign that South Carolina’s post players are back on track. After a tumultuous start to the season in non-conference play, it’s definitely surprising to see USC atop the SEC standings — but let’s see how far we can keep this thing rolling, shall we?
The Gamecocks (7-7, 2-0 SEC) face Missouri next on Saturday afternoon.