Mississippi State, the No. 10 seed, pulled away in the second half to defeat 7-seed South Carolina, 73-51, in a second-round matchup of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Amalie Arena on Thursday night.
Tolu Smith led the Bulldogs with 20 points, while Iverson Molinar added 19 and Shakeel Moore had 12.
The Gamecocks got 18 points from Erik Stevenson and 10 from Devin Carter, but could not overcome a scoring drought in the second half after trailing just 36-34 at halftime.
In fact, the game was still close, with Mississippi State leading just 51-46 folowing a layup by Carter with 9:42 remaining.
But from that point on, the Bulldogs clamped down on defense and the Gamecocks went ice cold. Mississippi State closed the game on a 22-5 run to break the game open and win going away.
South Carolina made just 17 of 60 field-goal attempts (.283) and was even worse from 3-point range, going 6 of 23 (.261).
Mississippi State improved to 18-14, while South Carolina fell to 18-13.
Mississippi State moves on to to SEC Tournament quarterfinal matchup with 2-seed Tennessee on Friday. The 6 p.m. game will be televised by SEC Network.