South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks set new record with win over Mississippi State

South Carolina basketball set a new program record for regular season wins after beating Mississippi State on Saturday.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball entered Saturday tied for 2nd in the SEC, but on what was the final day of the season, mathematically, they could finish anywhere from 2nd place to 6th place. In search of the double-bye in the SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks were also just one win away from setting a new program record for regular season wins.

On the road at Mississippi State, Lamont Paris' Gamecocks

Collin Murray-Boyles lost the tip to Tolu Smith, but the Carolina freshman beat the veteran Smith for the game's first bucket. After a Cam Matthews score for State, BJ Mack made his first shot, hopeful that it would lead to a bounce-back performance after a tough game against Tennessee on Wednesday.

Matthews scored again to tie the game, but Meechie Johnson hit a deep 3-pointer before both teams missed a ton of shots in a row. The next basket didn't come until the 15:54 mark when Collin Murray-Boyles scored through a Tolu Smith foul. After the free throw, USC led 10-4.

Some really nice minutes from Josh Gray saw the big fella get a "seal assist" on a Murray-Boyles score, block a shot at the rim, and earn a post-up score through contact. When Myles Stute (still wearing the cumbersome knee brace) hit a 3-pointer a minute later, the score stood 17-8 in favor of the visiting team.

A 4-0 run from the Bulldogs was answered by a 1-2 trip to the free throw line from Meechie Johnson, but Shakeel Moore got an easy layup to cut the lead to just 4 points. A 3-point play the old-fashioned way from BJ Mack made the score 21-14.

Meechie Johnson was called for his 2nd foul, the first of what would be three fouls in 10 seconds against the Gamecocks. State took advantage, and scored again. Veteran point guard Ta'Lon Cooper cooly answered with a driving layup, and then Zach Davis made a tough shot in the lane. Josh Gray was also called for his 2nd foul when Tolu Smith threw his head back into Gray's face.

Two Gray turnovers saw him take his turn on the bench, and the newly reinserted BJ Mack scored on his first possession. Dashawn Davis hit a wing 3-pointer, and a Mack turnover led to a Josh Hubbard runout. After getting fouled, Hubbard tied the score with 2 free throws.

Jacobi Wright committed USC's 5th turnover in 4 minutes, but Collin Murray-Boyles spiked a Hubbard layup attempt to prevent the go-ahead score. When the Gamecocks got the ball back, Mack drove to the rim for his 8th and 9th points of the half.

A possession with 3 offensive rebounds for the Gamecocks resulted in 2 foul shots from Mack to put Lamont Paris' group up 31-27. Carolina went with their 1-3-1 and forced a bad miss from 3 by Hubbard, but the long rebound went right to a wide-open Dashawn Davis, and he hit the long ball. After a Zach Davis layup to go up 3, Josh Gray had a big block on Tolu Smith and then drew a foul on DJ Jeffries on the other end.

The man known as "The Horse" knocked down both attempts from the charity stripe, and with just 1:40 left on the clock, the Gamecocks led 35-30. Hubbard canned a 3-point jumper to make it a one-possession game, but Myles Stute answered. The furious scoring pace continued through the final minute, but thanks to a turnover, MSU was able to make the score 38-37 heading into halftime.

When the 2nd half started, the two teams traded turnovers, but a Josh Hubbard 3-point ball put the Bulldogs ahead momentarily until Meechie Johnson silenced the crowd at Humphry Coliseum. Excellent defense from the Gamecocks forced a miss, and Collin Murray-Boyles picked up his 5th assist, finding Meechie Johnson for a layup to go up 44-40.

A Zach Davis 3-pointer was sandwiched between two Cam Matthews inside buckets, and then Ta'Lon Cooper hit a shot from the wing to put South Carolina basketball up 50-44. Dashawn Davis got fouled and then committed a foul; he made 1-2, but Meechie Johnson made both of his shots, allowing the Gamecock lead to grow a bit to 52-45.

Josh Gray joined Collin Murray-Boyles with 3 fouls, and Tolu Smith outmuscled Ebrima Dibba for a bucket. BJ Mack grabbed his first rebound, but the Gamecocks couldn't cash in. DJ Jeffries tied the score on the next possession to cap off State's 7-0 run.

Mack ended the run with a bucket inside on Matthews, and a 3-point play from Jacobi Wright put Lamont Paris' team back up by 5. A deep 3 from Josh Hubbard, a layup from Collin Murray-Boyles, and a bucket from Matthews all came within a minute as the game moved at a faster pace than Carolina is comfortable playing.

After Tolu Smith cut the lead to just 2, Mack continued his strong scoring day with a 3-pointer. USC's hot shooting kept up as a Collin Murray-Boyles shot fell to give them 5 makes in 7 attempts. With 8:45 left in the game, the black-clad visitors led Mississippi State 66-59.

After a short break, Mack turned the ball over by dragging his pivot foot, but Collin Murray-Boyles got it back with a block. Just one score (a Tolu Smith bunny) lit up the scoreboard until a timeout with 6:45 left. The Gamecocks' scoring drought lasted nearly 4 minutes before a Collin Murray-Boyles score put his team up 68-64, and the freshman scored again to go up 6.

After a Shakeel Moore make, Josh Hubbard's point total grew to 20 with a 3-pointer with a hand in his face, and all of a sudden, the game was tied 70-70. A foul on a rebound went uncalled, and the ball bounced off of Meechie Johnson to give MSU the ball back with 2:!7 on the clock heading into the final media timeout.

After Collin Murray-Boyles' 4th steal, Zach Davis dunked all over two Bulldogs, and with the free throw, the Gamecocks were up 3. DJ Jeffries quickly made an outside shot to re-tie the count. Collin Murray-Boyles got a tough follow to go after a Meechie Johnson miss, and with just 43 seconds left, the Gamecocks led by 2 in Starkville.

Josh Hubbard hit a pull-up off a screen to even the score, but the Gamecocks used almost the entire clock before taking their final shot. BJ Mack drew a foul on Tolu Smith with the attempt, and after making both free throws, the Gamecocks led 77-75 with 4 seconds to go.

A critical foul was called as Jacobi Wright and Ta'Lon Cooper had Dashawn Davis get tripped up between them. Davis made both shots to tie the score, and the game was headed to overtime.

After Collin Murray-Boyles won the tip, Meechie Johnson made a 3-pointer to kick start the offense in the extra period. Johnson then fouled Josh Hubbard, and the Bulldog freshman made both foul shots. Murray-Boyles scored to put Carolina up 82-79, but Cam Matthews countered with an inside basket.

Zach Davis gathered a pass in the dunker's spot and drew a foul on Matthews, and the sophomore knocked down both clutch free throws to go up 3 again. Again, though, MSU answered as Hubbard picked up his 25th and 26th points.

BJ Mack continued the perfect overtime shooting with a top-of-the-key 3-pointer. Tolu Smith scored off of an offensive rebound, and after Carolina's first miss, Smith came down and drew a foul against Mack. Smith made just 1-2, so when USC got the ball back, they led 87-86 with 1:00 to go in the game.

Mack made a shot through tons of contact at the end of the shot clock, and the Gamecocks had a 3-point lead heading into what should have been Mississippi State's final possession. Josh Hubbard missed an outside shot, but after an offensive board, Zach Davis fouled Hubbard on a second 3-point attempt. He missed the final shot, however, and BJ Mack secured the rebound and drew a foul.

Mack made two shots (with a Bulldog timeout in between), and Jacobi Wright intentionally DJ Jeffries with 6 seconds left. He missed the first and made the second shot from the line. On the ensuing inbound, Meechie Johnson made both shots to ice the game.

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