In a game needing a big play, Duane Notice provided it.
Notice scored just six points and was only 1-7 from the floor, but his big three-point make with 2:15 left gave South Carolina a wave of momentum they rode all the way to a 63-57 victory over Mississippi State on Senior Day at Colonial Life Arena.
The Gamecocks were looking to avoid dropping a game in which they had a 10-point lead - 45-35 - with 12:53 left. But the offense went cold: the Bulldogs built a 17-5 run spanning 8:19 to take a 52-50 lead with 4:33 left in regulation. Many Carolina fans were probably thinking “Not again” after seeing the team hit a wall at Vanderbilt ten days ago. However, things turned the Gamecocks’ way on the wings of a 7-0 run - capped by Notice’s big three - as they pulled ahead 57-52 with just 2:15 left. The Bulldogs were held at arm’s length as they would get no closer than three down the stretch.
The first half featured Chris Silva: he lit up the scoreboard with 11 points and seven rebounds. Half number two belonged to Sindarius Thornwell. After being held to just five points in the opening stanza, he dropped 17 points on 4-5 shooting from the field. While Carolina couldn’t take big advantage of Mississippi State’s 20 turnovers, they were able to avoid what would have been a tough loss for a team looking to make the tournament for the first time since 2004.
But, as the old saying goes, a win is a win. And it’s a landmine avoided as the Gamecocks head to Ole Miss to wrap up the regular season on Saturday (8:30 ET on SEC Network). It also puts them in great shape to clinch a top four seed in the SEC Tournament, a plus in their quest to win the league’s championship and erase all doubt of getting to the Big Dance.