Mississippi State 70, South Carolina 59
USC was favored to win this match-up, but Missisippi State, who also struggled this season and was plagued by injuries, was pretty much in control for three quarters of this game. Three-pointers played a big role in that dominance, as the Bulldogs seven of the 15 shots they tried from behind the arc, and Fred Thomas – who had a career-high 21 points – notched four of the treys.
The Cocks allowed MSU to go on a 13-0 run and trailed by 11 at the half, but they managed to close the gap a bit and were down just four points with about two and a half minutes remaining in the game. The Bulldogs scored nine points in the final two minutes, though, while Carolina could only add two.
Laimonas Chatkevicius tied a career-high with 11 points, and he also had five rebounds, an assist, a steal, and two blocks to lead the Gamecocks. Thomas led MSU with the 21 points, three rebounds, three assists, five steals, and three blocks.
Honestly, neither of these teams, both of whom have new head coaches, was very good this year. While USC has more overall wins, both squads were victorious in just four regular season conference games. South Carolina finishes the season 14-17, and this is the fifth year in a row they’ve been one-and-done in the conference tournament. Mississippi State is now 10-21 on the season and will play Tennessee (19-11, 11-7) on Thursday.
Texas A&M 71, Auburn 62
Much like the Gamecocks, the Tigers kept things close and made things interesting in the second half, but it wasn’t enough after allowing a long scoring run by the Aggies. Texas A&M went a 15-0 streak and held Auburn scoreless for seven minutes, but were only up by seven at the half.
The Tigers fought back in the second half and tied the game with just over 11 minutes remaining. The Aggies manufactured a 9-2 scoring run, but Auburn pulled back within four with half a minute left in the game. They couldn’t get any closer than that, though, and Texas A&M helped their case by making nine of 10 free throws in the final minute.
Josh Wallace had eight points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals to lead the Tigers. Elston Turner, playing with a splint on his broken left pinky, led the Aggies with 22 points, two rebounds, and an assist.
Auburn finishes the season 9-23 overall and with just three conference victories. Texas A&M finishes 18-14 with seven SEC wins. They’ll meet their fellow conference newcomer – and a former Big XII foe – Thursday night when they take on Missouri (22-9, 11-7).