Mississippi State (19-10) at South Carolina (10-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 29th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) -- Columbia, South Carolina. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Mississippi State 14-3, South Carolina 9-8. Away Record: Mississippi State 2-6, South Carolina 1-8. Neutral Record: Mississippi State 3-1, South Carolina 0-2. Conference Record: Mississippi State 6-8, South Carolina 2-12. Series Record: Mississippi State leads, 15-8.
GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs aim to stop a disastrous losing streak at five games, when they head to Colonial Life Arena for a Southeastern Conference tilt with South Carolina.
Mississippi State hung tough with Alabama early on before faltering down the stretch in an eventual 67-50 road setback Saturday. The Bulldogs have been in free-fall ever since an overtime loss to Georgia February 11th that cost them a spot in the national rankings. MSU shot 38.3 percent from the floor against Alabama, which knocked down 53.2 percent of its field goals. The Bulldogs also made just 8-of-15 foul shots while going 6-for-16 from three-point range. Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney each scored 14 points in the setback, dropping Mississippi State to 6-8 in SEC play.
South Carolina remained entrenched in the SEC basement with Saturday's 73-64 home loss to Tennessee. The Volunteers led wire-to-wire and shot 52.2 percent from the floor while the Gamecocks limped to a 31.9-percent shooting clip. USC got a number of its points (23) from a whopping 21 turnovers by the Vols with Bruce Ellington's 19 leading the way. Malik Cooke put up 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as South Carolina lost for the eighth time in nine tries to fall to 2-12 in league play.
Mississippi State has won five straight games over the Gamecocks and lead the all-time series, 15-8. The Bulldogs also own a 6-4 edge in games staged in Columbia, with South Carolina's last home win in the series coming back in 2006. USC did come up with a win in Starkville a year later.
The Bulldogs still retain one of the SEC's better offenses, averaging 71.4 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting. The driving force behind those numbers is the play of both Arnett Moultrie and Bost, who sit fourth and fifth, respectively, in the SEC in scoring. The junior Moultrie puts up 16.7 ppg and leads the league in rebounding with 10.7 per contest. His 54.9 field- goal percentage ranks third in the SEC. Bost meanwhile, is as good a second option as you'll find at 15.9 ppg, while leading the conference with 5.0 assists per game. The senior also tops the roster with 66 three-pointers on 35.1 percent shooting. Freshman Rodney Hood has been a nice addition, chipping in 11.0 ppg, 4.9 boards and 43 triples on 38.1 percent shooting. Hood was forced to sit out Saturday's loss to Alabama with a knee injury. Sidney gives MSU a quartet of double-digit scorers by contributing 10.3 ppg while securing 5.0 rpg. Adding still further depth is Jalen Steele's 8.0 ppg and 57 threes on 39.3-percent accuracy. The Bulldog defense could use some improving, allowing 66.8 ppg on 43.3 percent shooting. MSU is able to hold down a decent +3.0 margin on the glass.
The Gamecocks struggle on offense and sit second from the bottom in the SEC at 61.6 ppg on just 40.3 percent shooting. The defense allows it to be somewhat competitive in holding opposing teams to 64.9 ppg -- but strangely on a league-worst 44.8 percent shooting from the field. The Gamecocks don't do themselves any favors in the rebounding department either, securing a conference-low 31.2 per game. Cooke's 12.4-point average paces the offense and his 4.9 rpg stand second on the club. Ellington slots in second on the team with his 10.8 ppg followed by Anthony Gill (7.8 ppg), who also grabs 4.8 boards per contest. Damontre Harris adds 6.7 ppg and a team-high 5.3 rebounds while Damien Leonard averages 6.5 ppg and serves as USC's top three-point threat with 45 on 31.3 percent shooting.
The Bulldogs' streak should come to an end in Columbia where the Gamecocks are simply playing out a lost season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 71, South Carolina 63
02/29 10:37:44 ET