Mississippi State University (20-7, 8-6 SEC) displayed how much heart they had as they came back from a 17-point deficit in the first half to defeat the University of South Carolina (14-13, 9-5 SEC) by 15 points with a final score of 76-61 on Saturday.
Early on, South Carolina had MSU’s number with how well they defended the Bulldogs with their zone defensive schemes. The Gamecocks' defense created their offense, causing MSU to turn over the ball numerous times and not allowing MSU good shot opportunities.
When the second half began, there was a strong sense of urgency showed by the Bulldogs as they immediately started to attack offensively.
This offensive strength would ultimately help MSU in the long run, as they would eventually went on an 18-3 run early in the second half to take the lead. South Carolina's A.J. Lawson, a freshman guard from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, said the Bulldogs changed how they were playing offensively.
“They started attacking more offensively, some guys got out the way and we just had to help each other out… and we didn’t do that,” Lawson said.
In the second half alone, MSU shot 65.4 percent from the field on 17-26 shooting, along with missing just four threes, going 6-10 from the three-point range. Lamar Peters, junior guard from New Orleans, gave the team a brief talk at halftime and it seemed to have turned things around.
“I just told the guys at halftime, ‘Let’s get out there and have fun, don’t get too frustrated because it only gets worse when you play mad,'” Peters said.
One of those players being Reggie Perry, freshman forward from Thomasville, Georgia, who ended the game with 21 points, six rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal. Peters said his physicality is what enables him to play so well.
“Reggie has real strong body,” Peters said. “He’s a real strong kid. He knows how to use his body down there, and whenever I break my guy down, I just want to feed him the ball.”
Since Nick Weatherspoon, a sophomore guard from Canton, was suspended for violation of team rules, Peters has had to pull double duty and he almost ended the game with a double-double. He finished the night with 11 points and nine assists, while also showcasing some defensive prowess with three steals.
Since the absence of sophomore guard Nick Weatherspoon, the team has been stepping in each position to make up for the one member of the team who is not there, and in these past two games against Georgia and South Carolina, the Bulldogs have managed to do that successfully.
One of those players who stepped up is Abdul Ado, a sophomore forward from Lagos, Nigeria, who tallied up an outstanding six blocks along with seven points and four assists against the Gamecocks. Ado said he has contributed to the team even when it felt like he was out of rhythm in the team’s past few outings.
“My teammates have given me a lot of confidence," Ado said. “My teammates believe in me a lot. They told me, especially with Nick out, ‘We need you to step up your game.’ So, I decided whatever I got to do to help my team, I got to do (it).”
The Bulldogs will host the Missouri Tigers at the Humphrey Coliseum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26. ESPN SEC Network will broadcast the game.