The Bulldogs never led on Wednesday night in Columbia, South Carolina, in a 66-56 defeat to the Gamecocks. 

South Carolina opened up with an 8-point lead midway through the first half of play, before heading to the locker room with a 12-point advantage at the break. 

Mississippi State University trailed by as many as 19 in the second half, before making a run that was much too late. 

The Bulldogs shot 0-of-14 from three in the ballgame, as South Carolina made six of theirs for a +18 point differential in that area. MSU head basketball coach Ben Howland addressed this in his postgame interview.

"We did not shoot the ball well. I don't know if I've ever had a team play a game and not make a three," Howland said. 

MSU lost the rebounding battle as well, allowing 15 offensive rebounds. Junior Forward Tolu Smith, who was the SEC's leading rebounder last season, only had two rebounds in the contest.

"They just fought harder than us … at the end of the day, it's on to the next one and never quit. That's what we're going to do," Smith said. 

The Bulldogs needed to win this game to stay on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. The road now goes through Tampa.

"I think we're going to have to win the conference tournament to get in. There's no doubt at this point. This was a must win to keep that hope alive of having an at-large bid," Howland said.

MSU will look to bounce back on Saturday afternoon, as they host Vanderbilt at 12:00 p.m. in Starkville. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

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