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Kotsar, Gamecocks get critical 83-71 win over Mississippi State

A good time was had by all on Senior Night.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

When even Maik Kotsar is getting in on the dunking action, you know it’s a good night for the South Carolina Gamecocks.

On Senior Night, the veteran big man posted a team-high 20 points and helped USC clinch its fourth winning SEC season in the past five years, and even more importantly, score a crucial victory against fellow NCAA Tournament bubble competitor Mississippi State.

The game got off to an unexpectedly hot offensive start for South Carolina, with the Gamecocks building a lead that ballooned to as many as 18 points before the Bulldogs got back off the mat and went to halftime trailing just 40-38. But the Gamecocks enjoyed an even crisper 55% shooting performance in the second half, keeping the Bulldogs at arm’s length and pulling away to secure the win.

The game’s best highlights came in the form of one Keyshawn Bryant, who threw down two of his best dunks this year in what has been an overstuffed highlight reel of them. The first one featured a block on the defensive end, while the second was...well, you just need to see it for yourself, or watch it a few dozen more times even if you have already:

Bryant and A.J. Lawson finished with 12 points, while Jermaine Couisnard, Alanzo Frink, and Jair Bolden scored eight apiece.

As of March 2 — so, before this game — South Carolina was still lingering in Joe Lunardi’s “Last Four Out,” with Mississippi State in the “First Four Out” category. It’ll be interesting to see if the teams swap places when he updates his Bracketology next, given that they split the season series.

South Carolina (18-12, 10-7 SEC) travels to face Vanderbilt (10-20, 2-15) in the regular-season finale on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.