State Falls to South Carolina, 76-62 in SEC Championship

Mississippi State guard Jordan Danberry (24) dribbles the ball against South Carolina guard Tyasha Harris, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford) (Photo: The Associated Press)
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (MSU Athletics) Mississippi State came up short in the SEC Tournament championship game on Sunday, falling to top-seeded South Carolina, 76-62, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

The Bulldogs (27-6) fell behind early on and couldn't find any momentum to fight their way back in the game. Offensively, State shot 23 percent from the floor in the first half, while the Gamecocks (32-1) had the hot hand with 50 percent shooting. Mississippi State outscored SC in the second half, but the damage was done by that point, and the Bulldogs were unable to rally from the early deficit.

The two areas that really hurt Mississippi State in the game were the battle in the paint and the fast break points. South Carolina dominated both categories, outscoring the Bulldogs 52-34 down low and winning the battle on the glass 53-42. The two teams also combined for 21 blocks in the matchup, as MSU finished with 10 of them. In transition, the Gamecocks held a massive 25-4 advantage that kept State from getting its defense set.

Aliyah Matharu had a game-high 17 points to go along with four rebounds in the contest. Jordan Danberry was the other double-digit scorer, finishing with 11 points and four assists. Rickea Jackson had nine points and five boards, while JaMya Mingo-Young added eight points and five rebounds. Jackson was tabbed to the SEC All-Tournament Team after the game.

South Carolina held the early advantage, using a 14-2 run to pull ahead out the gate. State struggled to get a basket to start the game, but a couple of buckets late helped get the Bulldogs going on offense. The Gamecocks led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.

Mississippi State's offensive woes continued into the second stanza, shooting just 21 percent from the field and knocking down only one of its final 10 shots in the quarter. South Carolina shot 50 percent from the floor in the half to take a 38-22 lead into intermission.

MSU got some momentum going late in the third period, ending things on 7-2 run, but the Gamecocks added onto their lead to hold a 61-39 advantage going into the final frame. State outscored SC 23-15 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late. The Bulldogs couldn't rally from the double-digit deficit.

Up next, Mississippi State will have the week off to prep for the NCAA Tournament. The official bracket will be unveiled on March 16 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.